Friends of Webster

Raised in the house, but field certified.

I Know What is Within Me, Even if You Can’t See It Yet…

“I have something more important than courage, I have patience. I will become what I know I am.”

December 30th, 2009 Posted by | 100 posts in 100 days | no comments

We Fight until We Win?

Look at one of the most recent comments. The title of this blog is a phrase that always used to fire me up for success. Now it just seems antiquated, even when my father relates it to my fight for vindication. sean-john-black-american-dream.jpgWho do you think of when you see this pictured t-shirt? Ali? President Obama? Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson?

The lead attorney for my appeal, Ron Machen, was officially tapped by President Obama to fill the role of D.C.’s U.S. Attorney. (See Here: Machen tapped U.S. Attorney for D.C.) The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces is likely my last shot at vindication as Machen’s departure will leave one brilliant, knowledgeable and personable attorney, Daniel Volchok, as my lone representative from Wilmer Hale, L.L.P. 

It has been nearly a month and a half since I stood before the judges and I don’t expect any word any time soon.  I don’t get anxious and I surely don’t worry.  I have learned, in the past four years, that fighting for a particular goal, scratching and clawing to get there, isn’t always the best solution. I want to practice law. I want to envision and engineer the social landscape of the future.  At the same time, I know that I would much rather be a successful human being (Christian, father, husband, etc) than to kill myself trying to overcome a formidable obstacle (being licensed) and burning myself out.  In the end, social change is about influence and the employment of vast resources. 

Education is a key to unlocking the potential in an individual but it is just one possible ingredient for success.  In these four years, I have learned that resources, influence and well-being are just as important. In my post-collegiate career, I have worked alongside of two older, highly-educated black men.  Both had their Master’s degrees. Both felt that they could change the world with their education and neither are.  This beg’s the question, is education really important? Especially as a black man.  We live in a world of monster.com and craigslist.com and in this world, people really believe that they have a shot at meaningful employment and a path to greatness. Rather, the free enterprise isn’t so free.  Whether you are of an aristocratic pedigree or a beneficiary of affirmative action, it is more about interpersonal connections and circumstance than education.  I wonder if they learned this before or after they graduated with their master’s degrees?

I want my graduate education, and I plan on earning it, but it won’t change my life. I am aware of that. Highly-educated black men are like German-engineered super cars without the Autobahn to test their limits.  So the true question is, should we really fight until we win? Lose our minds, families and our optimism? More often than not, black men fight until they lose.

This may seem like a solemn message but I have been doing a lot of reading lately.  Malcolm Gladwell’s books (Outliers, Tipping Point, Blink), 50 Cent’s The 50th Law (which is rather genius) and other books of the sort. Some black men make it. Obama, Machen, Holder, Bob Johnson, Cornel West, and Jack White (See: On Being a Black Lawyer).  Education is metamorphosis.  It is possible that education does more harm than good for the ambitious black man and the people who look up to them. How deadening is it to see a highly-educated black man doing a job that anyone can do. It is the story of the 20th century and it hasnt gotten much better. I am just going to work hard, sleep little, practice much and carve my own path. Because many of the “German-engineered super cars” that I have known, never find their Autobahn. I rather take my own road.

December 28th, 2009 Posted by | Awaiting CAAF's Word | 2 comments

Like Landing on the Moon.

Just this afternoon, my wife sent me a series of text messages after viewing a story on CNN.

Go to CNN.com/Omg, it makes me want to cry/What did you say when the judge said you are a free man?/ “I felt like when they landed on the moon. We have touched down.”

I have always wanted to know how I would feel if, at age 26, I was vindicated. Legal experts say that it is too soon after the verdict. Soon, to those experts, is four years after the verdict. Four years seemed like 10-15 years for me and my family. I don’t really think about all of this stuff anymore. The anger is counter-productive and it is hard to focus on life when you are constantly thinking of the balance that it hangs in. Just yesterday, my boss asked me, “You should know soon, shouldn’t you?”

 I said, “About Lindsey’s Teach for America position? “About any acceptances to law schools?”

He said, “No Web, about your appeal to CAAF.” I couldn’t believe how far I had distanced myself from all of it. Until today, I have never thought of the sensation that I would feel after a moment like that. I had never even attempted to imagine what it felt like to win.  Today, it happened by accident because for some reason, I thought that she was talking about me. I thought that maybe, she knew something that I had yet to hear. Well, this is how it felt:

My tears welled up and my chest felt really tight. My ears warmed and for a second, I felt a taste of victory. I was speechless, happy, tired and just excited to be where I am in life, despite the setbacks that I have experienced.

It was seconds later that I acknowledged my misunderstanding and watched the corresponding video on CNN.com. I was so intrigued that a man with a 35 year fight for justice spoke so mercifully. He spoke without anger and with complete reverance toward God.

A co-worker saw those welled up tears and quickly shot me an email. She is one of the few people that can relate to my emotion. She sent me a verse out of PSALM 91:14-16:

14Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

As much as I try to conceal the importance of this pending decision, it means everything to me. My life won’t be any different, with or without vindication, at this point. It means everything to me because I should not have lost.  I don’t want a proverbial free ride from CAAF, I just want to be free. And if you think that just because I am not behind concrete walls, I shouldn’t care so much, I will have to disagree with you. I look forward to articulating what life is like carrying an undue burden that everyone can see.

But not for long…I am so tired of preparing for another devastating disappointment. I am tired of making contigency plans and preparing for a mediocre life of settling and just existing. From here on out, I will prepare for a life of victory. Thanks to my wife’s text messages, I have felt the euphoria of victory. I am never going to let it go.

December 17th, 2009 Posted by | Awaiting CAAF's Word | 3 comments

No Longer Waiting…

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I have jettisoned the frustration and strengthened my grip on the hope that I have for a brighter day.  Regardless of what happens at the appellate level of this case, there will be a brighter day. My 2008 wish list was almost completely granted. Grateful does not describe the appreciation that I have for God, my family and my friends. I walk my life in awe of God’s power. By society’s standards, I should be nothing.  Theoretically, I should be doing nothing, going nowhere, with no one around me but others who are doing the same amount of nothing. Win or lose (my appeal to CAAF), one day, people will see my life and know that anything is possible with faith in God. It is not cliche. It is truth.

The 2009 Christmas Wish List:

1. Howard, George Washington, DePaul Law School acceptance

2. Alexis starts gymnastics and loves it!

3. Lindsey begins with Teach For America in January (or AISD)

4. My mother moves out of her old house

5. Buy Linds a home with a front porch and back patio

6. A chance to talk to many of the classmates from CGA that I never had the chance to speak with

7. That my sister graduates from college this year

8. Alexis’ enrollment in a great pre-school program

9. CAAF votes in my favor

10. I begin the career that makes my life one of purpose

 

December 14th, 2009 Posted by | Pictures Worth Seeing | no comments

Pennsylvania Ave?