If there is one thing that life teaches, it is that there will be moments of failure and loss. There will be times when you have done everything right –you followed the blueprint for success but you still failed. What do you do when failure is a definite but you know success is in your destiny?
The simple answer is you keep grinding…
2012 to 2014 was some of the hardest years I have every experienced. I went through a health scare, lost home, marriage ended, cars repossessed, and little to no income. Why was this happening to me? I have leadership skills, I managed over 100 million dollars’ worth of assets, I have two masters’ degrees (working on a third), I have trained thousands. My leadership qualities, talents and training speak for themselves.
But, for those 2 years all I seemed to experience was failure and loss. Every time I would get close to a breakthrough, it fell apart. I had job offers rescinded for no reasons. Lucrative opportunities taken off the table for no reason. It just appeared that failure and hard times was the path that was chosen for me. In 2014, I experienced loss in some fashion or another on a weekly basis. Without a place to live, I moved to a seminary campus apartment and I remember one of my neighbors saying to me, “That every day she saw me she thanked God.” She could not believe that one person could take such trauma in such a short period of time without wanting to kill themselves. The truth of the matter is that I thought about it every single day. There were moments, that I would sit in my apartment, wondering what I was going to eat, because I had no money or food. I was thankful that I had a place to stay but still experiencing the feeling of loss and failure.
Then on October 29, 2014, I experience loss at a level that would forever change my life –I got arrested for clerical mistake by the clerk of the court. I had spoken with the clerk of the court about my child support and showed them all the paperwork that detailed every aspect of repayment. She took my paperwork and said that there was no need to come to court because my paperwork addressed all of the issues that they were needing answers too. Well she told me one thing but failed to do any of it and on October 29th, 2014, I was called out of class and arrested on campus. I was in jail for about 2 days but it left a hole in my heart. Here I was and 40 years old and this was my first time in handcuffs or in a courtroom shackled. I was shackled the same way that they would have shackled a murderer or rapist. For the first time in about 20 years, I was embarrassed.
I remember being in that cell with 7 other men and wondering what in the world makes people want to come back to this place. I hated jail –the confinement, the loss of humanity and the lack of freedom. But, some of the young brothers I saw in the jail were as if they were in the confines of home. They slept and ate with smiles upon their faces. For me there was frustration because this appeared to be my culmination of 40 years’ worth of work. After this was cleared up and I was back in the “free world,” I started seeing life through a different lens. I saw how the transition for those coming from jail was so difficult. The understanding of empathy had changed because now I knew what the practical outcome of the New Jim Crow meant in real time. But, there was still the loss and level of failure attached that troubled me. What was the use of trying to be and get better; what sense did more degrees make; why was everything that I was trying failing and failing with a high cost attached to it.
So that night, when I hit rock bottom, I grabbed the 12 pills and started toward my mouth. I had been battling the pain for 3 hours and I lost –hope was a fleeting memory and despair was a present reality. As I started toward my mouth with the pills, my phone vibrated and it was an email from a friend. She said I just felt as if I needed to send you an email to check on you. That email saved my life that day.
It that brief second I lost perspective of what life entails. In that brief moment life appeared to be just endless amounts of sorrow and pain. Failure became an obstacle instead of a ladder for greater success. I was later reminded of something I used to tell everyone one: “I want to make people better than they ever thought they could be.” What I did not realize that through all my failures and loss I was receiving a training that college, seminary or graduate school could never teach me. I was learning how to push past pain. I was learning to never quit and that God was in the midst of the chaos with me.
James Baldwin was told by a reporter that he was born black, poor and gay…How much more disadvantaged can you get? Baldwin response was, “I hit the jackpot. It gave me something to write about.” Failure and loss may give the impression that you have lost but in retrospect you have hit the jackpot because the learning potential is there if we push past the pain.
I write from a point in my life where sense has jumped out of the window. Nothing makes sense and rationale is an anomaly. As I ponder, through my thoughts, I wrestle with the thought of racism. Is it possible to live a life without some sort of personal racist tendencies? If I get upset as a black person at a white at times cracker may exhume from my lips. If a white dude gets mad at a black man nigger may come from his lips. Either way both have racist thoughts and actions that come forth in times of stress. That does mean it is right but it happens.
I just find it awkward to say the least to fit into to certain circles. I grew up in a black community. I went to a predominately white high school and then matriculated to a HBCU. (Historical Black College and University) I then played professional baseball with any and every culture you could imagine. I lived with these guys for 6 months out of a year. I then went in to the military where I meet Americans from around the nation. All that being said,
“Culture is a beast of a thing to try to change, so mostly you adapt.”
From a bias standpoint, I have a profound love for black people that is unequivocal to any other race. Is that racist, I do not know but it is true. I think we have been oppressed and played to levels of no proportions in America. We have been abused and then scoffed at when we have the audacity to defend ourselves. We have not formed counter terrorist militia to counteract the atrocities that have been done to us and are being done covertly. This is by no means a crutch but my observation of what has transpired in my life. The Civil Rights Movement was a powerful vehicle for change but the wheels seemed to have fallen off as off lately. Now we have the rights (kind of) but we have been some misinformed that we have started to believe the hype. So now the racism has been turn inward and now blacks fear other blacks as if they were the KKK.
AZ raps in Life’s a Bitch on Nas’ Illmatic, “A person’s status depends on salary…” and this has in a way becomes the moniker for most caught in the struggle. The struggle being that of trying to get out of a poverty stricken state that has handcuffed you to disenfranchisement. I have drawn weary of the intentional categorizing of blacks within the context of mediocrity, especially black males. Though many may not have a bank account that is reminiscent of easy street there is a work ethic that is laced in the very fabric of our being. Now, there are some exception to the rule but for the most part, more people are concerned about being honest, hard working and productive additions to society. But the fact of the matter is that many are underpaid but overworked. They have jobs that do not provide adequate health care which in the long run affects their job once again. Poverty become this vicious cycle that keeps perpetuating and hampering those got in the struggle.
So this angst grows and the racist tension widens due to the need for viable income. Everyone gets blamed for the others demise when in actuality it is the rich against the poor. The poor become lump into one group and the rich into another. Poor whites and black get lumped together as just poor people. When all is said and done, poverty is an equal opportunity employer that welcomes all. Go to any local job service and you will see that poverty has no color…..Just ruminating.