Words by Randy Roper
Three years ago, I stopped writing. That came on the heels of a four year position as music editor of Ozone Magazine, followed by a short stint with hiphopwired.com, all while running my own website, Writersblockmedia.net, and freelance writing for numerous websites and publications. So, three years ago when I stopped writing, I was burnt out. I needed a vacation.
A few weeks ago, I finally got a chance to take that vacation. It took me three years to escape. Between getting diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, getting married, having a child, burying my grandmother, and having a second child, a vacation wasn’t at the top of the priority list.
So, I took my family to Destin, Florida, a beautiful tourist city of the west Gulf coast of Florida. Between lounging on the white sands, dipping in the clear blue waters and playing with my kids at the pool, I couldn’t stop having the feeling like something was missing.
I told my wife I felt like I didn’t deserve a vacation. Yeah, we’ve both worked hard at establishing a new life together, doing our best to raise two kids and live the American dream, but for me, I still feel a lack of fulfillment.
After a few conversations with my father and some of my closest friends, I figured out exactly what was missing from my life. I missed writing. I missed being a journalist. And with all the craziness going on in the world today, not having my voice amongst the conversations and narratives was giving me an immense case of FOMO.
Colin Kaepernick was getting nailed to a cross for sitting out the national anthem in a cause against police brutality, and here I was sipping a virgin daiquiri off the coast of Florida as if back home, people weren’t dying on the streets.
One of my best friends is a city prosecutor in Columbia, South Carolina, and over the last few years, every time an unarmed black man is killed by police, I call him and try to make sense of it all. Lately, that’s a call I’ve been making far too often.
We always talk about what’s going on in our communities, and what we can do to make a change. And the more and more we’ve had those conversations, the more I’ve felt like my strongest contribution could be made through media. I have a strong understanding of media arts, years of experience as a writer and a passion for the journalism. It’s time for me to dust my cape off and get back on the grind.
Back in the days, I was all about music. But back then, I was 25, 26, 27. Times have changed. Now, I’m a husband, a father, and life is way deeper than rap. Every time I turn on the TV, I see a black man lying dead in the streets. I don’t care how many jokes Kevin Hart has, shit ain’t funny no more.
Men, women and children are dying everyday, and I can’t sit back and do nothing. I used to feel like as long as my family and friends were fine, then all the ills of the world don’t truly have an effect on me. But then tragedies started hitting closer and closer and closer and closer to home. Enough is enough. I have to do something. And for me, it starts with having my voice heard.
I’ve had friends tell me that people don’t read anymore. Others ask me, “Do you still write?” The ying and the yang is confusing, but right now, randyroper.com is all I have to express myself. If I write one article a week and only one person reads it, hopefully I write something that touches that one person. This is a journey for me, and I’m just doing what I can to initiate change.
I’m not Shaun King. I’m not Marc Lamont Hill. I’m not Michael Eric Dyson. I can only be Randy Roper. I just hope that’s enough. But if I can put enough positive energy into the world to combat the negative narratives of media personalities like Bill O’Reilly and Tomi Lahren, maybe I’ll make a difference.
Randyroper.com is still under construction, but I couldn’t wait any longer to get started on this journey. I’ll be updating this site as often as I can, and for the handful of people that have been readers of my work in the past and those who may be reading this right now…thank you.
There’s a lot of work that needs to be done. I know my kids are watching. Hopefully I can make the world a better place for them.
My vacation is over. I’m back to work.