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Living His Dream (Being An Advocate for Change like Martin L. King Jr.)

By: Karlton A. Armistad

By Andrew LittlePublished 2 years ago 14 min read
Photo courtesy of the Think Idea Studio's FB Page 17.01.22

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind s so bound to the starless midnight of racism and war, that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word”[Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.]

I am a survivor, a suffering soul that soldiers on powered by the strength of my African ancestors, determined to be a part of the solution to this global disgrace that is racism and inequality and unashamed to live a life where I judge no one by the color of their skin, but by the conviction of their character and loyal capabilities to care and look out for the best interest of others as they would for themselves.

As a young Jamaican growing up in a land that could not & still won’t accept members of the LGBTQ+ community, I have lived with prejudice and persecution all my life.

From walking/existing in complete fear that someone would realize my difference and start a small enough mob that would take my life just for being different, I fled to the United Kingdom knowing that I would at least be safe and my family would be protected.

Because when these purveyors of hate and lies chose to come for you, they don’t just want you dead but your family as well, thinking it must be something they did, that made you the way you were born.

For the 2 decades I lived in England, I only faced the uphill battle of systemic racism rarely, and the odd illiterate and ignorant white person, who always wanted me to “go back to my country” or “stop stealing the white man’s free healthcare, housing and benefits”.

My response would always be “I forgive you, as you clearly are hurting”, and this would aggravate them a bit more, while I observed the pointless venom and negativity emanating from this poor soul, I would only give back tolerance, understanding, and love.

Fast forward to 2007 and God in his infinite power blessed me with a beautiful daughter, who I have raised in love and acceptance, so much so that when my close friend had his first child at 20 years old and was struggling, I became a God-parent and looked after both kids on the weekend to give him a break, as he truly had a hard time being a parent.

My Beautiful Daughter Tay & My Godson Timbo, photo courtesy of the Author A. Little 2011

I raised both kids to love, laugh, and look out for each other. Mind you my daughter kept trying in her sweet little way to help, but could never manage to get my god-son out of his walker. Thankfully; my watchful eye and swift hands would be there to help.

Both kids are now 14 years old and 10 years old respectively and even though they have not seen each other in 7 years, they still know that the connection between them transcends color and means no matter what, they bonded to look out for each other for life.

2019 saw Me move from the cosmopolitan city of Leeds in England to a little-known Highland village called Lochcarron on the West coast of Scotland.

View from the top of a Street, Lochcarron, Scottish Highlands, photo by A. Little 2020

I was not in the best of health mentally and knew in my heart of hearts that if I didn’t change my environment and the destructive elements in it, I would be dead in another 3 years.

My close friend and his family had moved here a few years before and my thoughts were being near them would help my recovery and provide the needed support that could see me turn my life around.

My Adopted Family fr L-R: Shaun, Timbo, Andrew (Me), Mamma Bear & Luke, Lochcarron, Scottish Highlands, June 2020

What I faced in the 2 and a half years that followed would have broken many a weakened spirit. I was subjected to systemic racism and homophobia that was so embedded into the roots and locals of the village, it sent crushing chills down my spine and rattled the very core of my normally eclectic existence.

I was racially abused, targeted and then sexually assaulted by a young white local male, and when I chose to stand up for myself and speak out, I was told I was playing the ‘black card’, made out to be an alleged rapist by my attacker; who was clearly trying to cover his predatory tracks.

This white male & his co-conspirators ended up costing me my job, people that were still getting to know me started to hate me and look at me like I was the worst of the worst in the village. Others told me to drop it as I would get no justice as I was not white or local.

Even when I got the police involved, I was made to feel worse for reporting the crime committed against me, then told they had no substantial evidence to support my complaint of the assault and also because I struggled to get him off me and he did not ‘penetrate me’, the assault was not seen as consequential enough.

I felt like ‘Alice in Wonderland’; like I had gone through the looking glass into a dangerous ‘upside-down’ world where no justice existed for me. It was like I truly didn’t matter to anyone.

My close friend even made a point to say it’s not that he didn’t believe me, it’s just that he knew my attacker was only joking and I might have taken his joke the wrong way.

That broke me into a million pieces, and as I suffered in silence and persecution, crying myself to sleep most nights; I felt I was not worthy of love or care anymore, then something in me said no.

No, you will not let these people take the positively precious little bit of You that is left. You will take this tragedy and seek to make something good of it.

Do as Dr. King said & did, be the positive light that lets unconditional love in.

I had 2 of the village’s young lads working as Kitchen Porters alongside Me at the Hotel/Pub where I was a Cook. God spoke to and said 'seek to enhance the lives of these two young men'. Both were teenagers, one white and another of a mixed ethnic background.

Oddly enough the lad who was of a mixed-ethnic background was the nephew of my attacker, who would use this connection as one of the reasons he couldn’t be racist.

Both lads were very different in character; Caleb Freeman the young white lad, was quiet at first but had the most mischievous soul ever. His mother and father had split up when he was quite young and because of this he developed anger issues and would lash out when he felt he was not being heard.

Yet behind all that bravado was a very kind and emotional young man, just needing to be seen and listened to.

Junior Johnson, the other young lad had moved to the village with his older brother, two sisters, mother, and father when he was very young. He received no ends of racial abuse & bullying because he was not white even from family members, including my attacker from a very early age.

I realized one of the reasons I was here; was to help these two lads as best I could. I chose to mentor each one in the way they needed to be helped and guided. None of my actions were based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion.

I focussed purely on helping two young minds in need of guidance and one specifically in need of realizing he was not deserving of the racial abuse and horrible treatment he had been subjected to by those meant to nurture and encourage him.

1. Caleb

Between July 2020 and August 2021 Caleb and I were hanging out to walk our respective dogs, as that is what we were allowed to do because of COVID-19 restrictions.

He got me out of the House and away from the stresses of just being shielded with my adoptive mother and brother. Caleb hated school and was not doing as well there, even though he had this brilliant and keen eye for all things technological. He couldn’t see it as a skill, but I knew if he focussed and just applied himself, there was nothing he couldn’t do.

I believed in the lad, and as such allowed our friendship to grow because I could see what he was capable of if someone just believed in him, trusted to let him make a few mistakes and learn from them. The fact that he was white wasn’t important and if I made it so, then I would be no better than the racist assholes I was fighting against.

In his moments when Caleb would confess to wanting to kill himself as he felt he had no value, I reminded him of how important his life was to those of us that loved and believed in him. When he said he hated his Mom, Dad or Step-Dad, I would explain to him that he’s allowed to get mad at them but never to wish them harm as regardless of how he feels in the moment, he would miss them if anything ever happened to any of them.

Even when he was not the most respectful, and would make me angry something awful, I had to remember he was still in a way growing up, so I was not going get any better out of him at times. Caleb would turn up at my house at 6:00 am, absolutely drunk from visiting with friends his own age; and I would make him Tea and put him to bed on my Sofa, so he would be able to go home and not get grief from his Mom.

So many others sought to demonize Me, just for being a respectful and kind human being. So many others chose to spread gossip and rumors that I was trying to hurt Caleb.

They didn’t care that doing this was hurting Me, destroying my reputation & escalating severe bouts of anxiety & depression for me.

They didn’t care that I was also someone’s child and didn’t deserve the unwarranted hate, abuse, and bullying. No; they just carried on. I continued to trust in God and pray for my better day to come, as what else could I do?

I’d made Caleb a promise that I would get him a pint of beer in our local Pub when he turned 18. In August of 2021, he turned 18, and even though I hated the Pub I had made a promise and had to keep it. It was Caleb, I couldn’t let him down.

At this point; I had become a full-blown recluse, so being in the Pub for longer than a few hours was too much for me, but I went. Caleb’s Mom and step-dad had got him enough alcohol to stop a small rhinoceros which had him obliterated long before we entered the Pub.

I stayed with Caleb until around 9:30 pm, we were sitting outside having a cigarette when he stumbled into the Pub and disappeared. By this point, I was beginning to feel sickly from all the alcohol I had consumed, so I left and texted my adopted brother who worked behind the bar to let Caleb know he can walk down to mine if he needed to when he was ready to leave the Pub.

Caleb’s Mom drove past Me as I was walking back and I told her he was wasted so home and rest would be a good idea.

Low and behold an hour later I got a text saying Caleb had lost the plot because I went home and left him at the pub. That he was foaming at the mouth with anger to the point where he had collected a knife and was planning to visit my house and stab me with it.

It wasn't Caleb but the alcohol & his anger issues talking. I understood he was angry, but me leaving him to make his way back to mine didn’t warrant this reaction at all. He didn’t speak to me after this incident, then left to join Royal Air Force (RAF) a week later.

I never had an ounce of hate in Me against Caleb, I just felt a little disappointment, which when he returned home for his Christmas break, He made right by him coming over to my Home & apologizing.

Caleb gave me the biggest hug his new RAF-toned arms could muster. He never explained to me why he got so angry that night of his birthday and I never asked about it again.

At the end of January 2022, Caleb Freeman graduated from his basic training in the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force. His mother drove down to attend his Passing-Out Ceremony but didn’t even think to invite Me. In truth her invitation or acceptance of the part I played in getting Caleb to where he was not important.

New Graduated RAF Logistics Team Member Caleb, England 2022

Regardless of our skin color, Caleb being white and me black; unconditional love conquered all. The world now has one less racist soul in it as showing him kindness and care was all he needed to get by.

2. Junior

In June 2021 Junior started visiting my home as it was the Summer holidays and that is what young adults tend to do in the village. He wasn’t sure of himself and the more he came to the house, the more comfortable he felt to talk about the abuse he had faced from people in the village, even from his own family members.

Hearing his story warmed my heart more to him, as he had no other black or ethnic positive role models in his environment and daily life, this made me very, very sad.

The racial abuse he faced by his peers was unreal with one child saying to Junior “I just went to the toilet for a shit and made you a little brown brother” which the white kids found hilarious. Junior, however; said he felt hated and worth nothing.

What kind of a place would raise kids that would think that treating another child this way was ok?

When this was shared with me, I didn’t know where to look or what to say. All I could do; was give the lad a hug and tell him that those boys & girls didn’t know any better. That they will soon realize that what they were doing is wrong and things will get better.

I have throughout 2021 and now into 2022 remain a Mentor and friend to young Junior as he has needed one. I have listened to his concerns and questions about life, encouraged him to focus on his education, and do not let any bullying or racial abuse affect him, and this has helped him a lot.

I have left my door open to Junior and kept my home a safe place for him to come and cry when his days are more difficult than usual or he was hungry and needed a home-cooked meal, or just needed a place to gather his thoughts.

Junior munching a biscuit from the Kitchen cupboard, photo courtesy of A.Little 2022

I have chosen to use ‘unconditional love and kindness’ to show that I am just a human being trying to get by like everyone else; who happens to be of African ancestry. I bake cakes each week and share them with neighbors regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or past.

2022 means:-

- Letting My voice be heard across the Globe as a person who stands up against racism and any other forms of discrimination.

- Continue educating the locals in my village who are systemically racist and homophobic.

- Continue mentoring young Junior as another instrument for change in the village. Opening a dialogue and educating those wanting to change while living here together harmoniously.

- Speaking My truth, and sharing my experiences so that those younger than me have knowledge of what the real world is like. They can then make better choices than I did and be equipped to survive out in the world.

- I will continue to act as a Voice for Black & ethnic minorities, social justice, the LGBTQ+ community & for Equality in my local community and the world at large this year and beyond.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day We become silent about the things that matter”.

I matter, Caleb & Junior matter, changing the racist ways of the people living in a small highland village on the Scottish West Coast matters, and living My truth as a proud LGBTQ+ black man of African ancestry matters.

I will continue to live and love my adopted family here in Scotland. I will continue to play My part in my Godson’s life and be there to guide him and support him when he needs Me.

I will continue to see them for the people they are to me – Family. If the fact they happen to be white bothers others, then that issue is theirs, not mine. That is my commitment to the Dream of Equality for all. [END]

fact or fiction

About the Creator

Andrew Little

Karl A. Armistad is the pseudonym for Andrew R. Little. I prefer writing under this as it allows me to look at any body of work I complete separate to my personal day-to-existence, and safe-guards my relationships and family.

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  • AL. K.17 days ago

    Good work !

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