I don’t usually TBT. But I also make this reference to say despite my periodic hiatus’ from blogging and Facebook, I must confess to giving up too much of my blog-worthy content to Facebook. …For shame. Anyway, one thing I’ve been trying to do with many of my facebook friends is share some of the things from my archives. They are vast, deep and thick. They are a much to carry around in life, moving place to place, etc. While my goal is to widdle them down to slightly less than what they are this year, much of what’s in these archives I could never see parting with and probably won’t. They tell the story of my life and of course those that have touched it or shaped it any way at all. That being said, here is my #TbT. It is not the happiest of #TbT’s but who said it had to be? And since when did I ever follow anybody’s rules?? Never that’s when!!
This #TbT is probably most relevant to my North Carolina people, but the story is still one that’s relevant to all of us somehow. The image below is an article that I kept reporting the death of my good friend Wejewn (pronounced Wee-on} Byers. I feel like I should mention that I could have sworn that he always spelled his name differently in notes to me, but maybe that’s just my bad memory. Once upon a time when I was 14, my moms decided she would uproot us from Colorado which was all I’d ever known, to Charlotte North Carolina. A difficult move considering the former in addition to the fact that it was such a critical time in my adolescence and having to leave all childhood friends. When I got to North Carolina, I had no idea what to expect. The Midwest and the South are night and day. We also had no family or friends or there but somehow I was welcomed into my new junior high school with open arms. …I guess it was that southern hospitality which I was all too thankful for. Wejewn was one of those that not only welcomed me, but looked out for me and declared himself my brother not long after meeting me. He was the sweetest thing: Soft jet black hair, beautiful black skin, a winning smile, always ever so chivalrous, a happy (but not naïve) strut and always happy to see me. I felt like he radiated love. Wejewn came to school when he wanted to and it didn’t take me long to learn that he was a Man Child. In Colorado I realized boys had the luxury of being boys at the age of 13…14…especially in Montbello: the predominantly black neighborhood I grew up in in Denver. In North Carolina there were many, many Man Children: young men making money, most of them through “less than desirable ways”, selling drugs and actually taking care of their mothers, their families, paying bills before they were licensed to drive, etc…
Wejewn never discussed the details of how he made his money. Just told me enough for me to know how he did but it was not a recurring topic of conversation. He never bragged about it, or flaunted it and I never judged him or tried to sway him from his lifestyle. When he would signal that he needed to get off the phone somewhat abruptly (in the age of the pager), he’d just say he had to go and always aim to keep it as vague as possible but he knew I knew and I knew that he knew how I felt about it. …We just knew. I never saw Wejewn “in action”. I’ve often wondered if I had, would he have seemed much the same or unrecognizable to me. One of the things I valued most about Wejewn was his immediate respect for me and who he knew I was and who I was not. I always felt like the most sacred parts of our friendship were unspoken and somehow he always teetered a fine line it seemed in order to shelter me from the realities of his world so that I could stay in the innocence of my own. …And he knew and respected that that’s where I lived.
It wasn’t unusual that we lost contact a while after our 9th grade year as many of us were shifting schools moving from what was jr.high to high school. Just a few months into my tenth grade year, this story showed up on the news. I think I watched the whole thing with my jaw on the floor. …Appalled that this story had to be about someone I could actually say I knew…. And regardless of where he was in the world, LOVED.
Finally. ….It had finally caught up with him in so vicious a way that seemed contradictory to his spirit. BRUTALLY Murdered. Someone that I still held in such high regard, despite the life he lived. I always felt like he transcended all of that on what was probably some unearthly level. …The span of our friendship wasn’t even much longer than a year, but there are few days that go by without thoughts of him. I see his smile, I see his walk, if I’m lucky I’ll hear his voice or stumble across a note he wrote me. He was just one of a family of sons. …I don’t recall how many of them there were, but I knew that a few of them died violent deaths. While I never met her, I think about his mama. …I wonder who else thinks of him as much as I do. I wonder what they remember most. I don’t know where he was in his life exactly when all of this happened. …I don’t really care. I always felt like I knew the essence of who he was and wasn’t really concerned with the rest. As an adult, the fact that I think of him so often registers in my mind as reassurance that YES: His spirit WAS and IS strong just like I always thought it was. But it still pulls like a weight on my heart when I pull this article out that someone so special could be murdered. Riddled with bullets, shot execution style and the idea that someone had so much disdain for this dear heart that they would torture him and go so far as to cut the fingers off one of his hands. …This picture below doesn’t begin to do him justice by the way. I am thankful that most of my thoughts are not on the last few moments of his life, though I can’t lie and say none of them have been. I see him bopping around the corner, coming down the halls of Smith Junior High. …Just being Wejewn: A kid.
I am just glad that in many ways, he is still here.
Wejewn(or Weyawn) Briston Byers….We speak your name.
…keeping the ancestors alive all up in and through Studio5.