Burden is a thing I carry as a consequence of donning the fabric of hardship red each day. Oh, yes, hardship red is a color. It falls somewhere between credit department red and eternal brimstone red. Hardship red is the mark of cruelty and justifiable death. Its burden is the stigma that comes with those who are systemically unaware that my character is not defined by my circumstances.
Another thing that I carry is loyalty. I carry it to a fault. I believe that power is vulnerability, and that even the mightiest of men have an Achilles heel. Mine is the naiveté that everyone views loyalty the same as I.
There is a King James Version Bible that I carry, one given to me by the mother of a friend of mine in 1999. That Bible is my oldest possession and the thing I cherish most. It has been a chariot of hope and comfort throughout a taxing ordeal that can be spiritually depleting.
I carry an appreciation for social proximity and the opportunity to inspire. Evolution is not growth in isolation. Evolution is the necessity to impact one another constructively, as we are all vital building blocks to the future. It’s my fondness for proximity to others that has me strive for social compatibility. I like to think that I make friends easily, but the truth is, I’m not very good at it. The flaw is my hardened demeanor, with shoulders that are tense and eyes that are instinctively suspicious due to the hardship of another color. Proximity to others keeps me aware of my truths. It reminds me of our humanitarian duty to each other to accept people as they are. I’m reminded that it’s our very flaws which give us the strength of individuality and uniqueness.
I carry a liking for fantasy books and soap operas as a means to lose myself. Many would say that those pastimes are lame for a forty-four year old black man to enjoy, but what better alternative is there than fantasizing when my reality is so unkind.
I carry a passion for reggae music and its essentialness to the music genre. Music is a platform of global influences, and it’s the wisdom of roots and culture reggae that is the blue print for unity and world peace.
I carry the ashes of regret for the many bridges I’ve burned. My life today is a looking glass of my present self viewing my past. Maturity is about accountability and correction, yet, when the opportunity for correction is unavailable it can cause daily emotional strain.
But the thing I carry most is my undying devotion to family. I believe that blood ties alone should warrant trust and security. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “A man who has not found something worth dying for is not fit to live.” I stand here today, on North Carolina’s death row, willing to die for family. And though the sentiment is not always mutual, still, it’s something that I will never regret.