Darryl James

*Anytime people have a hard time understanding something, the first thing they turn to is an easy label.

In the case of people with strong voices, the easy label is “crazy.”

I’ve heard it a lot over the years, and even more so over the past few months.  I’ve mostly heard it in small voices, whispered as I leave the room.  I’ve often heard it from third parties, since the scared little rabbits who utter it are too timid to even imagine saying it to my face.  As technology advanced, I began to hear it via email and from anonymous idiots on the Internet.

What I’ve heard, I believe men like Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and even Jesus Christ heard during their lives and times.  Not that I dare to place myself on the same level or in the same company of such great men, but if I’m being given the same label, then maybe I’m actually on to something.

What I’ve heard is “Darryl James is crazy.”

And maybe I am.

Perhaps because I am unafraid to stand for what I believe is right, and for what I believe is just, no matter the consequences, then I am crazy.  Dr King, a man of peace said “A man who doesn’t have something for which he is prepared to die, is not fit to live.”

People called him crazy for that.

Perhaps because I am carving my own way, creating my own destiny and urging others to do the same, then I am crazy.  

I believe that Blacks ought to reverse integration. Marcus Garvey urged Black folks to return to Africa.

People called him crazy for that.

Perhaps because I don’t believe in turning the other cheek, and that if you do harm to me, I have the right to defend myself by any means necessary, then, like Malcolm X, I am crazy.

Perhaps because I often take the cause of the underdog, the weak, the voiceless or the outcast, or those shunned by the masses, then like Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I am crazy.

Or, perhaps, because I have seen, read, heard, touched, tasted, smelled, crapped on and slept near too much of the cold reality that this nation can dish out to a Black man, it has driven me to a life on the edge.

The angry, ignorant women and sissified little men with safe little lives who call me crazy would be quick to look for the refuge found in the company of one so crazy when the realities of being colored in this nation come to serve their asses.  They couldn’t survive one week being in the shoes of Malcolm, Martin or even Darryl James.

And they couldn’t survive one of their worthless minutes living in the shoes of men of color like Nelson Mandela, who stayed in prison for twenty-six years on principle.

Standing for something with integrity and fortitude gets you labeled as crazy these days.

It’s simply not the popular thing to do.

But I’ve never pursued only that which is popular.

For all of the ugly things people say about some our so-called “craziest,” they have more plans to work for our community than the window-dressing, self-serving public figures like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton.

Crazy lies in wait to describe men like Barack Obama, who dared to believe that he could be President of the United States. He was labeled crazy for thinking he could do what Presidents over the past 50 years could not do-change the face of health care.

Crazy is prepared for men like Cornell West, an educator who shouldn’t be half as vocal as he is. Crazy lies in wait for Black men who walk into gang territory to take back our communities, or Black mothers who make their children believe that they are princes and princesses and can rule the world.  Crazy is reserved for men like Magic Johnson, for believing that urban American can be economically revitalized.

Crazy is reserved for Kanye West, who believed that he should be able to rap about God while people are dancing, because God is everywhere-even when we are on the dance floor. Crazy is also reserved for Prince who believes that a Black artist ought to have control over his or her art.

Sad, but people will call me crazy for writing this.

The same little rabbits who call Darryl James crazy, wouldn’t dare say it to my face.

They know that I have no problem returning their evil to them and forcing them to live with it, because I am not afraid of evil.  Their greatest fear is that I will show them that which they fear. And it confuses them that I am not a gangster, nor am I some uneducated street thug.

The most feared man in the nation is a Black man with an education and what I call “testicular fortitude” (you figure it out).  To quote Public Enemy’s Chuck D: “the minute they see me, fear me, the epitome of public enemy.”  Sadly, this applies to both whites and Blacks.

The real problem is that Black people have been diminished and have become soft over the past three decades.  The image of the Black man has been defined and redefined by so many outside of us, that many of us have no idea what one really looks like.  Our image is so out of whack, that when a man shows up with principles based on something real, people don’t know how to deal with him and he seems insane to them.  

Some of us get labeled as crazy and gangster for being so bold as to face and confront.

So, I’ve learned that I can’t do everything in the light.  I’ve learned that I can neither look too good nor talk too wise.  Everything is not for everyone and I won’t always be understood.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that I am not alone.

Secretly, the scared little rabbits hope that I will continue to stand up and stand out.  They know it will call attention away from them.

So, call me crazy.  Just don’t call me when they come to get you.

Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on BlogTalkRadio.com/DarrylJames every Monday from 7-9pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at www.bridgecolumn.proboards36.com. Reach James at [email protected].