Tag Archives: loyalty

Love’s Gonna Getcha’ (A History of Violence)

There are a million different ways to say “I love you”. As a male, even if whispered from the softest of lips from the one who holds us in the highest regards, the premise still seems unfathomable; it makes us uneasy. It doesn’t always come in the form of physical contact; it’s frequently delivered in subtle methods such as, “Put on your seatbelt.”; “Watch your step.”; “Did you eat?” or “Get some rest.” So as a man, imagine how uncomfortable it is when one of your brethren conveys that sentiment in any form. The slightest expression of emotion, the least bit of vulnerability is met with resistance or disdain. “Alright!” or “Stop tripping” are phrases that you might typically hear in response to adulation. Often times, a quick change of subject is warranted to re-regulate the testosterone loss by any displays of affection. “The male has paid a heavy price for his masculine ‘privilege’ and power.” According to Dr. William S. Pollack in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, “Although boys have the same emotional potential as girls, their emotional range is soon limited to a menu of three (3) related feelings: rage, triumph, and lust.” Anything else and they risk being seen as a sissy, says Dr. Pollack. Society demands that men display “machismo” at every turn; and culturally, as a black male there are but two (2) reactions that can be made when faced with conflict; fight or flight; there is no in-between.

Long before deciphering the concepts of the Willie Lynch letter – The Making of a Slave (in one case pitting black male against black male), the publication of Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, or understanding the dynamics of the prison industrial complex, there was October 15, 1997. The phrase “black-on-black crime” was first brought to the mainstream media in the early 1970s, which included Ebony magazine using the phrase in a November 1973 editorial titled, “What Can Be Done?” As an individual growing up in that era, as I matured, it was a normal part of my existence. On that overcast October morning, myself and two (2) of my dear friends were involved in a violent altercation. When I reflect upon the run-in, it was incomprehensible. The echo of gunfire reverberated off the surrounding structures as a number of bullets pierced the skin of my fallen comrade. We had all scattered in different directions after he attempted to remove the weapon the assailant pointed at his head away from his face; seeking to deprive him of the currency and jewelry he had in his possession. As the tires squealed from the vehicle that was left idling in the adjacent parking lot and fled northbound on the major roadway making their escape, I rushed over to my companion to discover what damage had been inflicted upon him. There were no tribal screams or acts of rage, flailing arms or legs as depicted in cinema; just a feeling of disbelief and remorse. I had seen this coming; spotted the play as it was taking place, and had done nothing to prevent it. I would like to think my skepticism about the events even taking place would relieve me of any guilt I may have had, but honestly we were slipping; I was slipping. We took the fact that we were in our neighborhood for granted and thought our stature in the community made us immune to incidents such as this. That was a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

The paramedics quickly arrived on the scene and our friend was airlifted to a hospital that managed those types of injuries. I had been out of college almost four (4) years and was three (3) years into my career in law enforcement when the confrontation transpired. So as the police conducted their investigation, numbered cones marked shell casings and yellow tape intertwined with trees and branches, questions needed to be answered. Admittedly, neither I nor many of my immediate friends were cut from a fabric of cutthroats and killers. Like most of Middle America during that period, we enjoyed mimicking the lyrics of our favorite gangsta rap artists and lived vicariously through movie characters like Doughboy from Boys N The Hood or O-Dog from Menace II Society. But after witnessing what had transpired, I believe we were all willing to take penitentiary chances in an attempt to get retribution for the possible loss of our homeboy. A visit to the hospital determined that he would recover and the only thing left was to “get our man/men”. After the laughter subsided, the saline solution was properly filled and administered, bed pan checked and breathing apparatuses were in place, there was a sense of angst in the air; a collective tension that justified action needed to be taken. Traveling to the police station once removing the bullets from my hood after leaving the hospital, I contemplated what measures needed to be taken to satisfy my desire to avenge the earlier proceedings. Was I willing to go to jail and throw away my career for the sake of attaining “street justice” and to not look “green” (soft) for failing to retaliate for an occurrence for which I was involved? It was a no-brainer. I contacted Azreal AKA Samael (the Angel of Death) who was willing to help undertake the task of delivering vengeance. And similar to Dough, Lil’ Chris and Monster, but without the convertible ‘64 Impala, we rode through the streets of then Unincorporated Miami-Dade County looking for our transgressors.

In retrospect, I am glad we never found the culprits that dreary, fall evening. There was a case of mistaken identity and misinformation. It is amazing how a series of events can cause a chain reaction which could plummet an individual into the pits of purgatory. I still have the deposition that reads, “State of Florida v. (insert name)”. The charges were Robbery, Gun/Deadly Weapon 1st Degree Murder/Premeditated and Robbery Gun/Deadly Weapon. The funny thing is we, myself in particular, have had plenty of opportunities to have our revenge, if death were our intent. It is common for most people not to recognize individuals that they have casual to little contact with. Perhaps neither of them could not identify us; maybe they did not care and thought we were not going to do anything; just some clean cut rabble rousers living their lives and not causing trouble. On one remote Sunday afternoon years later, my friends and I were all together, ironically at the scene of the crime by the basketball court. The primary suspect in question was in our view, less than one hundred (100) feet away; none the wiser to who we were and our possible intent. I spoke with the individual who nearly had their life taken by this person; identified the individual as the perpetrator of the offense and asked him what he wanted to do. Any answering would have been acceptable while awaiting his reply. He had lived through that unpleasant experience; had to endure the pain and heal both physically and emotionally. If he would have said, “Let’s duct tape that shit and put his ass in the trunk”, I would have gone along and help commit the dastardly deed. Being raised in a broken home or lack of formal education would not be the justification for my decision making; as I enjoyed the benefits of being raised in a two (2) parent home and being an academic scholar. Anything that would have help make him whole again, although wrong and knowing the ramifications, I would have prayed to have had the courage to undertake the task, and would have done so because of my love and loyalty to him. I would not have asked for anything in return because in my mind, that’s what you’re supposed to do as a friend; be all in. With adrenaline rapidly coursing through my veins, I reluctantly awaited his response with anticipation. “Nah…!! I’m good!” We never asked for the reasoning behind his answer, just a retort of, “You sure?” And from that point, the subject was never broached again until the writing of this piece. The entire incident has been lost to the annals time; only raised when expanding the mythology of the individual who was summoned to help swing his scythe as the Grim Reaper.

The phrase “black-on-black crime” makes sense only if you understand our propensity to commit crimes against people of our own race as inherently different from the way other racial groups commit crimes. There is no difference; crime is crime. In our case, look at how many lives a continued cycle of violence would have damaged. We may not have lived or been free from incarceration to have careers, be a presence in our children lives, create generational wealth for our families, or be mentors and educators. That is what is lost in the equation of violence amongst our own. If I get into an altercation with someone and as a result kill them, then essentially there are two (2) or more people no longer apart of society; unless it’s determined I committed the action in self-defense, there is a strong likelihood that I will be incarcerated for an extended period of time. As males, without our presence and the ability to reproduce, there would not be children. If children were had prior to the incident, there is no fatherly guidance. Without a male figure present, there is no family dynamic or structure. Upon release from a correctional facility, there is now an economic toll that has to be paid; the inability to get public housing, food stamps, student loans; one’s ability to succeed is hindered. In whichever case, there would have been either a choir singing or commissary bringing. At the time of the robbery, neither I nor any of my immediate friends (seven of us) had children; collectively we now have seven (7). I cannot speak for any of them, but his decision to say no definitely saved my life. In my twenties, I would have thrown it all away to get the respect from my peers by retaliating for the incident; to show my loyalty and prove myself as gangsta as any tattooed, grill wearing so-called “real nigga”; never thinking about having to retain an attorney to fight for my freedom or how any of us leaving the block (by death or incarceration) will allow another soldier to fill our shoes. If jailed, perhaps the continuous changing of the months on the calendar would have provided a sense of regret. For those armchair quarterbacking saying, “It couldn’t have been me!” it is easy to utter foolish rhetoric until placed in that life altering position. The prospect of taking another’s life weighs heavily on the human psyche. Who wants to send “kites” from cell to cell as a form of communication or use mirrors as an instrument for social interaction; or have family and loved ones mourn a loss clad in black attire? I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had to live and see my friend recover and move past that moment in time. I have never inquired if there were any psychological scars as a result of being shot; I am sure he would not tell me the truth if asked. On many occasions I have told the “Harbinger of Bereavement” how appreciative I am for him always being there when I have appealed for his services; it was not until I reached this state of consciousness that I realized how valuable my friend’s decision was to my current existence. The thoughts of our possible response play out like a nightmare in my subconscious and often times haunts my existence. Love comes in any many different fashions. Who would have ever thought the word “No” would be so reinvigorating. Thanks for making that decision King; for that, I love you.

Note: I have spoken to the victim involved in this incident prior to me sharing this story, and he said if he had to make that decision again, he would do so a thousand times. That in itself shows you that the cycle can be broken and people can rebuild themselves when tragedy befalls them. He is a better man than me; I pray I could be that forgiving. “‪‎We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)‬

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Leaps and bounds

If you own a telecommunication device and are one of the several million people that occasionally log onto many of the social media websites available to the public, then you’ve more than likely had the privilege of viewing one your “friends” addressing their “haters” or sending subliminal messages to their secret admirers stating one the following: “We spend money that we do not have, on things we do not need, to impress people who do not care” and “Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings & emotions…” One of my favorites is, “There comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for you.” When you look at the quote on its surface, it speaks to the fact that as people, we tend to make sacrifices for those who wouldn’t forfeit their desires to satisfy our needs. You reread the quote several times over, replaying incidents in your mind where you felt unloved, underappreciated and/or casted aside after making concessions for others who outwardly careless about your feelings, wants or needs. Some can disregard those actions and feel like their assistance is a blessing to others. Commonly these sentiments lead to severing relationships, alienation and resentment. Even when the situation is addressed and seemingly resolved, the bond that was once shared is never the same. In your heart you know it’s over, but you cling to the wreckage of an affiliation ravaged by distain; your self-worth couldn’t withstand the waves battering against the haul of your soul.

I reflect often times on the madness that’s called friendship. How we expect loyalty from others, and demand that people pledge allegiance to an invisible oath drafted by morals that those same individuals don’t adhere to. Like you, irrational decision making was also my calling card. As an only child and through my formative years, clamoring for acceptance was a norm. I wouldn’t realize this character flaw until I too had to learn the hard way that a rock only skips no more than three times when tossed across a body of water before submerging until its eventual doom.


“This is a gang; and I’m in it!” During my tenure in college, that was one of my favorite songs. The track was performed by Compton’s Most Wanted off the album “Music To Driveby”. The track blared through the subwoofers as I would often times travel from Tallahassee to Monticello, Florida to clear my head and spend time alone. I could relate to the song in so many facets, and it remains a staple in my iTouch. It expressed the camaraderie that a group a friends shared; getting into mischief, partying, and other foolery. I felt my group of friends, although not deemed the “coolest”, were the realist people one could ever be around. You could always be yourself and express your thoughts without repercussions. There was no “hate”, because although we all lead different lives, we were all equals despite our socioeconomic status. So when one of my friends was shot during a failed robbery attempt, there was no question in my mind what had to be done. After the initial shock, I called up an individual who was known to resolve such matters, and off we went into the Saturday night air looking for the assailants who committed such a heinous act. As we passed by possible locations where the alleged perpetrators could possibly be or reside, I began to feel the pit growing in my stomach as to what could take place as an encounter grew near. I had been here before, so the emptiness wasn’t necessarily fear. I had felt the pain of false devotion before; left in a club holding cell defending someone who never threw a punch in defense of themselves. Projectiles whizzing across landscapes and altercations at an assortment of locations all in an attempt to earn an unheralded badge of honor which held no value. And when I thought of the occasions that I was either the instigator or the defendant, there was only one that warranted my “friends” to rush to my aid. And as these thoughts penetrated the fiber of my every being, I could only think, would these same individuals be willing to throw away their careers, college degrees, families and lives if it were me? I could name two, maybe three, but not definitively all.   I won’t lie to you and say there was a Tre’ from Boyz N’ Da Hood moment where I told the driver of the vehicle to take me (us) back to where my car was located, but I came to the realization that everyone isn’t willing to do what you’d do for the sake of friendship, love and loyalty.


And as the years have passed, the lesson increases with its importance. Throwing rocks at the “chain gang”, looking at a period of incarceration, possible death, financial hardship and loves lost, all as a result of going the extra the mile for those that wouldn’t travel two feet to accommodate you. It’s saddening in a sense that the appreciation and admiration you have for others isn’t often reciprocated. I would never tell anyone to stop being good natured and not help your fellow man (woman) in their time of need. However, be mindful that the generosity you display may not be countered in return. And in your reluctance to assist someone, if the person dependent on your kindness begins to become agitated because you’ve now had an epiphany, tell them, “Keep calm and don’t be mad when I pull a YOU on YOU!” “We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)

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I Hate Myself! The struggle between being honest and being real.

“The road to success is paved with good intentions.”  The quote has been said repeatedly throughout the course of time and one of the meanings of the phrase is that individuals may have the intention to undertake good actions but more likely than not fail to take action.  Good intentions are meaningless unless followed through.  A different interpretation of the saying is that good intentions, when acted upon, may have sometimes led to unforeseen bad consequences.


This is where the struggle begins and never receives closure.  For people of color, the word “real” takes on similar comparisons to the word “love”.  Being “real” is like a badge of honor; a coronation to knighthood.  Words that are commonly spoken are, “I’m a real n*gga!”, “Keeping it real!” or “Real n*ggas do real things!”  However, when someone states, “I’m just being real with you!” it’s supposed to translate to “I’m just being honest!”  No other culture has the distinction or share the importance as to what that word means.  See, when you’re being “real”, it gives one a pass to say or do whatever you want without repercussions.  It’s equivalent to praising a person, an entity or situation and then adding the word “but”.  Once a person says the initial statement then adds “but”, a negative statement or opinion is usually forthcoming.  So if I hurt your feelings with my remarks, “I’m just being real!” If I want to justify my behavior when the majority disagrees with my actions, “I’m just being real!”  If I feel threatened or want to exert my masculinity, “I’m a real n*gga!”  You can see memes that depict people of color being “real” when they have their pants saggin’, involved in criminal activity or performing other acts that doesn’t conform to the norms of society.  If someone is seeking their college degree, earning a living in the workforce, shows affection toward their significant other and/or participating in something that reflects positivity, that somehow doesn’t correlate to being “real”.  Being “real” sometimes rings hollow because it shouldn’t be an act or a word used to punctuate behavior.  It should be a way of life which doesn’t require titles or labels.


In contrast, being honest requires a level of vulnerability.  It shows an ability to express oneself despite any impending criticism.  It’s something that people seek in friend and relationships, but many of those same people can’t adhere too because honesty sometimes hurts.  Honesty creates a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  When heartfelt, it can make the receiver feel inspired, joyous and appreciated; it creates a sense of trust and a level of comfort.  On the contrary, honesty can be deflating, demoralizing and gut wrenching.  Honesty creates both tears of joy and pain; it’s unyielding and is always pure.  There should be no ill intent when spoken in its rawest form.  It should be refreshing to the ears and the speaker’s intent should never be questioned when the words ring true.


See I hate myself because I’m in constant conflict with the two (2).  Being labeled as “real” amongst your peers is equivalent to becoming a “made” mafia figure.  Being described in different circles when you aren’t present as a person that can be relied upon as being a stand-up individual is an honor that inflates the ego.  But how is that any different than being “honest”.  Honesty requires the dropping of your guard and exposing yourself to sometimes unwarranted angst.  Being honest is saying what needs to be heard despite the negative connotations.  What I’ve done, in attempts to become closer to people and be more engaging, is be extremely forthcoming with all of my feelings.  Good, bad or indifferent, I pride myself on being authentic.  It doesn’t mean this approach is right or beneficial, it only reveals what’s behind the veil and makes me more transparent.  I’m human, so I have my flaws.  And like most humans, I speak my mind and do so at junctures that is untimely.  Being honest comes with both praise and dissent; it’s never on neutral terms.  So if you’re overly positive, you have an ulterior motive; negative, then you’re deemed a hater.  People want honesty, loyalty and love, but when they meet individuals with these attributes, they at some point shun them because they won’t placate to their individual needs.  I hate myself because I aspire to be that individual.  However, the people in the world who also want to share those qualities are afraid to do so due to the possible backlash of public opinion.  So despite my continuing travels down the interstate to attain success, the intent, be it through spoken word or action can sometimes be misinterpreted.  Acts that may be thought to be in done malice are sometimes truthful assessments as to what’s taking place at that time.  Metaphysics states, “When you are truly comfortable with who you are, not everybody will like you.  But you won’t care about it one bit.”  I haven’t reached that level of tolerance yet, and until I do, the struggle will remain prevalent.  I’m gone! (b)

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