Hazing!

I cannot attribute this photo.  Taken from the web!

One of the things that have been on my mind the last several months is the senseless death of FAMU Drum Major Robert Champion.  I wanted to comment on this issue earlier but several events have transpired in my life that have prevented me from doing so.  First of all, I’d like to thank Brother Chuck Hobbs who posted this article from The Orlando Sentinel on his Facebook  page which did a sensational job reporting on this story.  I don’t feel any remorse for canceling my subscription to my hometown newspaper The Tallahassee Democrat.  Worst newspaper ever…

I want to keep this short and sweet.  To Dr. Julian White, Director of Bands at Florida A&M University, I wholeheartedly apologize for calling for your firing.  Clearly, the evidence points to you doing everything in your power to curtail hazing.  The unfortunate thing about the matter is that no matter what those in power do to curtail the practice of hazing, the responsibility lies with the actual members of The 100 who seek to enthrall us every week when they take the field.

I have read ad nauseam the musings and opinions of those who think that they speak for the majority as if they were some kind of expert on our culture and would speak as if their words were etched on The Ten Commandments.  To Dr. Na’im Akbar, shut the fuck up!  Your analysis seems to suggest that people of our color cannot handle and should not be given the power for self determination. Herein lies the problem…

The strong will always prey upon the weak.  Robert Champion was set to become the head drum major next year.  He could have left it there and set the example for the rest of the band to show them that you can achieve whatever you want to by sticking to your own guns.  However, for whatever misguided thoughts that he may have had, he didn’t need to get on that bus that would eventually take his life.  Acceptance by fools is no acceptance at all…

No matter how this incident has hurt our university, we will prevail!  Bullies have been picking on the weak since time began.  Only when the weak stand up to the bullies and say no more of this shit, will stupid shit like hazing end.  If you are a lamb, it will be to your advantage, not to walk with lions.  Mr. Champion, you may have had the heart of a lion that day, but you should never have trusted them…  May you find the acceptance in the next life that you didn’t find in this one…. Hubba!

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Miracle?

“There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

I have not always been the evil Atheist that some people make me out to be.  In fact, I was indoctrinated into religion at an early age by my grandmother Thelma Clarke.  Thelma, or T.C. as we like to call her, made it her business to see that her grandchildren were raised as good little Episcopalians.  Every Sunday, my brother, sisters, and I served Christ as acolytes, singing in the children’s choir, and attending Sunday school.

It was during these Sunday School classes that I was first introduced to the concept of miracles.  Dictionary.com defines a miracle as:  an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.  Supernatural is used usually as an euphemism for God.  Along my own personal journey through this short thing that we call life, I came to be a skeptic of miracles and the supernatural.  For me, logic and reason control my thought processes.  I have to be able to see and touch something in order to believe that it exists.  If you will, I need empirical evidence…

That was until today when Devyn walked across the threshold and I was able to touch him and hug him for the first time since his shooting.  It was in that instant that all of T.C.’s making me go to church came back to haunt me.  I was at once grateful for the turn of events that allowed Devyn to come home.  I am talking about the incompetence of his attackers and grateful for the angle of the bullet that entered his head.  Logic tells me that he is fortunate to be alive because of his will to live and the way that the event unfolded.

What I am having difficulty with is discounting the prayers and well wishes of all of you that have come to support Devyn and my family as we deal with this tragedy.  I can’t very well tell you to take your “God bless you and your family” and that “We are praying for him” and tell you to blow it out of your asses because I don’t know if it was that, in effect,  that saved him.

There is no proof that God exists or does not exist! I suspect that this argument will continue when we have all ceased to exist.  The only thing that I know is that when I saw my nephew today, I was overjoyed and filled with a feeling of love that I didn’t know that resided within me.  Was it just life playing  itself  out?  Or was it just a miracle?

Today, I don’t care what anyone believes.  Be it in a supernatural being or a miracle that brought Devyn home or a total act of randomness of the physical  universe is irrelevant.  I am a happy man!  This is a time for celebration.  Whether his being home is a miracle or just plain fate is a debate for someone who gives a shit.  And right now, I dont…

P.S.  While Devyn is growing stronger physically, we have yet to discover the psychological issues that he will have to deal with.  As always, the family continues to appreciate your love and support.  We will continue to update you with Devyn’s recovery!  Peace and love to all!

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Bring Him Home!

I’ve done a bit of reminiscing today about the fives years that I lived in New York.  Living in New York is at worst, dodging all of the tourists looking up and ogling all of the tall buildings.  At best, if you are into the arts such as I am, it is the American version of Mecca!  I was so fortunate to work for a company named Group Sales Box Office.  The mission of this company was to provide discounted theater tickets to school and civics groups of ten or more people who wanted to come experience the offerings of Broadway!

One of the perks of working that job is that I got to experience everything that Broadway had to offer for free.  Not only did we do Broadway tickets, we handled all of the theme restaurants such as the Hard Rock Cafe…  Who could ask for anything more than free food and drinks and then a show afterwards?  Myself, and a wacky cast of coworkers would do our best to put those restaurants out of business.

Okay, so you’re probably asking yourself where is Nick going with this column.  I am here to bring to your attention to a novel written by Victor Hugo called Les Miserables.  In the business, we just called it Lay Miz.  Anyway, the principle character is Jean Valjean,who rises from a bread thief to become  a very prominent man who is ruthlessly hunted by a French police officer, Inspector Javert bent on bringing Valjean down.

Valjean has adopted Cosette, the daughter of the deceased Fantine.  Cosette falls in love with Marius who is severely injured in the French Revolution.  Upon discovering Marius, Valjean launches into “Bring Him Home!”  Which is the song that made me think again about my nephew Devyn!  Please, bring him home…

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Devyn…. Part Two!

When I first wrote about my nephew Devyn Hardy, who was the victim of a senseless and heinous violent crime, it was intended as a therapeutic measure for me to deal with my disbelief and grief.  Instead, the many friends of the Hardy family have taken my words and have turned them into their words in the hopes of fighting negative stereotypes.  We all know that words have power and through my blog, I have rejected the words of those who would cast us in less than a positive light!

As I stated in the first Devyn blog, The Tampa Tribune and the police department had characterized Devyn’s shooting as a drug deal gone bad.  I am happy to report unequivocally that there will be no charges filed against Devyn.  To be blunt, my nephew was the victim of those who wanted to rob him of his possessions and nothing more.  Many folks have encouraged me to forward my post to the media to clear the air, however, I think that a kick to the nuts of those who defamed my nephew are more appropriate.  Please believe me, I am winding up my leg….

I talked to Karen this evening and I am happy to report that Devyn is in good spirits and even does a little dance with his shoulders whenever he receives visitors.  He was so overwhelmed yesterday with the number of people who came to see him that Karen had to limit the number of people who could visit.  Is that a remarkable young man or what?

Devyn has amazed his doctors with the speed of his recovery and his outlook on his future.  His jaw is wired shut and he can’t talk and it will be that way for the next six weeks.  However, he is communicating with hand signals and gestures using his body.  Damn, I love this kid!  He is the victim, yet, he is setting the example!  If I had one tenth of the strength this kid has, I’d be a better man!

We are looking to bring him home sometime next week to finish the healing and rehabilitative process.  He will still need to undergo at least two more reconstructive surgeries and I will continue to blog about his progress.  He will need a hypoallergenic environment to recuperate in and I will touch on that later.

Once again, thank you all for the love and support that you have given my family.  We appreciate and love you all!  Devyn posted to Facebook yesterday and I will leave you with what he said:  Thank you everyone for the love..yalls prayers and strength are keepin me going.

Did I say how much I love this kid?

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When The Dark Clouds Gather Over The Horizon…!

Recently, in my tribute to my nephew Devyn Hardy, I commented on how I did not have much faith in the human species as a whole.  Let me state how unequivocally I was wrong about the human race and in particularly The Baby Rattler Nation.  While I will always view humans skeptically, I will never again doubt the bonds we forged as Baby Rattlers.  I couldn’t have made it without the support of some of our core families.  I take that back….. even if you were an only child, you are a part of that core.

There are certain things that we hold to be self-evident, such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Although these things came to us later rather than sooner, must these three unyielding principles require a child to constantly look over his/her shoulder in the fear that some ne’er-do-well is going to inflict some type of harm on them simply because they have benefited a little better under the system that we live under?  It shouldn’t have to be this way….

I can ramble on and on but I don’t want to bore you, lest myself.  I am truly fighting the monster that I despise I might become.  I just want a very simple thing out of life and that is for us to all get along.  I will gladly give you everything that I have if it will prevent you from trying to blow my brains out.  Maybe, it is beyond my purview to understand this… I might never know.  With this being said evildoers and dregs of society, you must remember one thing…..

If you want to do dirt against us is a road that you don’t want to travel down because if you do, you only need to remember these words:

When the dark clouds gather on the horizon,
When thunder and lightning pierce the skies,
When fate is but a glare in the eye of a fallen Rattler,
and hope….a lost friend,
When the sinew of the chest grows weary from those hard charging linebackers,
And the muscles in the legs grow tired from those hard charging running backs,
You must always remember….the Rattlers will
STRIKE!!!
STRIKE!!!
AND STRIKE AGAIN!!!

We will get you in the end. We come from a legacy starting with Matthew Esteras, Harry Holt, Doris Jefferson, Doris Medlock, Ruth Williams, Johnnie Williams, Raymond Baker, and even Mrs. Hill, the evil math teacher…. Don’t tread upon us!   My nephew, Devyn Hardy made it through New Beginnings so he is apart of the FAMU Family!  You tried us once, you’d be ill advised to do it a second time.  Because when you screw with one of us, you screw with us all.  My entire family and I, stand together with you and for you. Never again can we allow this to happen to one of our families… Just saying!

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The Crying Game!

The Scream, Edvard Munch

I’ve never been a crier. Didn’t believe in it. In fact, if memory serves me correctly, I have cried approximately three times in my life prior to Saturday.  The first time that I cried was the day I was born and the only reason for that was the doctor slapped me and caught me off guard.  The second time I cried was at my father’s funeral service, the second one in Washington, DC.  You have to give up a few tears for daddy!  Finally, I shed a tear when Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination in Grant Park back in 2008.  Yes sir, real men don’t cry!

That was until I got the news that my nephew had been shot.  Then I cried like a baby.  I cried because he was hurt. I cried because I couldn’t protect him. I cried because he was alive and I had no idea of the severity of his injuries.  I cried because his future was so bright and full of promise.  I cried because I was mad.  I cried when I found out he was going to make a full recovery.  I cried for two families that will never be the same.  I cried for the man who attacked my nephew.  I cried because violence makes me sick!

I’ve cried so much lately and I’m getting pretty good at it.  Brother, I’m in big trouble if I see a “save the puppies” or “feed the children” commercial.  But the upside is that I felt better after crying.  It is a natural and free stress reliever.  I can’t imagined how I would have internalized my grief had I not found an outlet for it.  And I am not sure that I even want to know the answer.  All I know now is that I will not try to stifle myself the next time my eyes want to turn on the faucets.  But at the same time, I hope that I will never again have to experience something like this.

Oh, real men do cry!  They just don’t let you see it!

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Devyn!

This past Saturday, my nephew, Devyn Lamar Hardy was the victim of a senseless and heinous crime!  He was shot in the face by a couple of Tampa thugs trying to steal whatever he may have had in his pocket at the time.  Tampa police have tried to characterize this incident as a drug transaction gone bad!  Why is it that whenever a black youth is shot for no apparent reason, that it must be the result of a drug deal?  That is contrary to everything that I know about Devyn.

Funka, Wop Wop, or Dippy as he has been known as was a highly recruited football and soccer player coming out of high school.  Much to his credit, he rejected athletic scholarships and instead chose to receive an academic scholarship to attend the University of South Florida, majoring in engineering.  Devyn is listed in Who’s Who, graduated high school with honors, participated in the Florida vs. Georgia All Star Game, and has a host of other awards and accomplishments.

When I heard that he had been shot, something inside of me died!  I am still trying to come to grips with that, but I chalk it up to one thing.  I love all of my nieces and nephews as if they were my own children.  I still can’t reconcile if that is a universal feeling or something unique to me.  If I had my way, I would have been the one taking that bullet for him!  That’s not bravado, but a simple fact that I know that my life is half over….. his is just beginning!  I would make that trade any day of the week.

Enough about me, this is about him.  Son, I know the road that you must now take is going to be tough to hoe, but you come from good stock.  Your bloodline is a good one and through the strength that you have inherited and the work ethic that you have been given, you will come back to us better, bigger, and stronger than ever…

I’ve never been a big advocate of the human race in general, but I believe in you! I know that from this tragedy that you will find everything that your heart desires.  I also remember that about seventeen years ago, I had to come rescue you from that daycare prison that they put you in, the high chair with the bar that kept you from moving…. You were a biter… Bite for life!

I love you kid! Come home!

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