On the eve of becoming 30 I am reflecting on the journey leading me to this very point in time. As music has always been a way for me to find solace in my emotions and as I travel down the path of examining my three decades on this planet I am brought to these three songs which helped inspire this piece. To fully understand the scope of my emotions we must acknowledge this very specific moment in history, the 2020 Uprisings, this is a significant historical moment and I dont think that should be lost in context, also I am a Cis-Black Man/Educator during maybe the largest social uprising in the history of the United States. To understand the magnitude of becoming a 30 year old Black man, I need not to look further than my own friends who have not lived to see this day. Coming up to comprehend the idea that at 30 years old I would be able to have a thriving family with a comfortable income and an upstart business with my best friend that will help lead the means of financing people’s programs like a decolonized school (TMA) , a community garden, housing, etc. blows my mind and shows me just how good God is.
As these blessings have continued to grow, naturally as a human, I begin to feel a sense of pride for staying committed to my dreams. TMC. As “A Miracle” comes through my speakers I identify quickly with Nip, “I was been supposed to change up/I was been supposed to fold all this pressure/I was been supposed to change up”. I saw a tweet this week that said “Black boys deal with childhood trauma by trying to grow up and be rich”, and let me tell you: that hit different. As long as I can remember I wanted to grow up and be rich, I hated not being able to get things, or have access to go places. Growing up I never got to fly on an airplane, or go on a vacation, never got to buy new Jordans, didn’t get to keep a dog because one day my dad came to me and said “Jordy, its either us or the dog that gets to eat”. I wasn’t even 10 years old. You see I wanted to grow up and be rich to get my dad everything he deserved, I wanted to buy him a big house right on the waterfront of the Bay because he always loved the water. I wanted to have enough money so that I could help my mom get clean and she would love me again. I wanted to be rich so that I could provide for my niece because even in the 8th grade I felt it was my responsibility to care for her. See when Nip tells you “what would I look like? I come from the hood/I represent the only way up/Had to hustle, boy, I’m tryna touch a toy” I can feel him. I wasn’t in the streets but I was on my marathon for years and I feel like I am finally reaping the benefits of my hard work.
When you commit to these “marathons” in life it is easy to become distracted and side-tracked, even for years. I know some of the visions I felt God gave to me I shied away from in order to chase selfish gain and goals. It is so funny how God will make those dreams come full circle. I am in the midst of several long-time projects that I label “marathons” coming to become reality. As I am laboring on these projects, I am finding so many intersections of these various marathons and am amazed watching as God moves and opens doors that I could have never imagined before. As I am working on these projects, some that began in 2014, Brent Faiyaz “Been Away” plays in my mind all day. “I know I’ve been away/I’m just tryna get my paper straight, girl/Don’t give my sh*t away/I’m just tryna get my paper straight”. This feels like I am speaking to those dreams God put on my heart. I have chased my own selfish goals trying to get rich to put a band-aid on the scars on my soul but in reality these visions were given to me in the spirit of love to heal, not just myself but my community. This is not to say I am some holy man, I am very much a sinner in need of my Savior Jesus Christ, but He gave me these visions because He told us in John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. It is our duty to love one another. How we love is not through hate, fear, terror, aggression, silencing, dismissing, demeaning, belittling. We love through uplifting those who have fallen down, speaking up for those oppressed, feeding those who are hungry, clothing those who need clothes, housing those without shelter, providing for those who do not have, that is love. Simply put, if your best friend was the person in need how would you treat them?
I can’t imagine a world where most people would shoot their best friend, where they would beat them, abuse them, blame their best friend instead of showing love and grace and mercy. As I reflect on being 30, I think about the poem The Rose That Grew From Concrete, and how many people scoff at the Black Roses that grow through the cracks in the concrete. “We wasn’t supposed to make it past 25/jokes on you we still alive/throw yo hands up in the sky/and say we don’t care what people say”. We all love that Kanye. If you didn’t get a chance to, then I am sorry because that album saw me through some of my darkest nights and brought me great joy. Those lyrics serve as reminders of the idea that I wouldn’t even be here at this point, it strikes me deep to my core, Ye told us most Black men wouldn’t make it to this point where I currently stand. Again, when I examine where I currently stand there is no way I can look at those lyrics and not think about where we stand in this present historical moment: Kanye has proven himself to be Anti-Black, misogynistic and severely mentally ill while attempting to “run a campaign” when formerly endorsing an open-bigot, and that’s not even the craziest part of 2020.
16 years ago “College Dropout” spoke to so much of my soul, I could relate to “Spaceships”, heard my faith expressed in a genre that spoke my language in “Jesus Walks”, “Never Let Me Down” served as an anthem to persevere, “Two Words”, “Family Business”, all of it. Kanye’s voice, as the smart kid who was street savvy did something for my heart, maybe even if just re-affirming that I wasn’t in fact alone on this journey. As I was looking at vinyls in the store a few days ago, I ran across a copy of College Dropout and my heart instantly longed for it. I sent a picture of the album to my wife, who promptly reminded me “what are you doing? I thought you weren’t supporting Kanye”. I had actually already put the album down out of fear of making an unwise purchase without permission from my wife (fellas yall know what I’m talking about) but her text spoke to me, at this point what side are you going to stand on? Are we going to allow convenience or “how it used to be” to negate humanity? Where will you stand when it is tough? As I am only a few minutes away from turning 30 I reflect on the fact “I’m out here on a mission and I’m all alone/I’m far from where I’m going and I’m far from home/Somehow I know I’m moving in the right direction/Papa* always told me I was gon’ be special”. I love that I am stepping into a new decade of life with the world in upheaval, because hopefully this next marathon will bring about a more liberated world by the time I turn 40. TMC