Brandon Eriq Vaughn Puryear,( center), on the dais, keynote Speaker at the 25th Anniversary Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast January 15.
WPCNR FOR THE RECORD. The 25th Anniversary White Plains Martin Luther King Jr Breakfast Keynote Speech by Brandon Eriq Vaughn Puryear delivered January 15, 2018 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel:
Hello everyone and Happy New Year, my name is Brandon Eriq Vaughn Puryear. I use all four names because my mother blessed me with them. I am a poet, actor and comedian.
Not listed… Son, Brother, Best friend, Dog Father but most importantly…I am a young African American leader in my community.
But how would you know any of that? By the way I dress, my glasses? Or maybe my smile. If I wasn’t standing up here, you wouldn’t know.
The world passes us by and each day we come across another person. We say Hello and keep walking. We say how are you doing and never truly want to know. We know what’s going on in the world but we don’t notice each other.
Today I want you to start having new meanings to your hellos. When you say how are you, mean it and when you console with the words “I’m here for you” be there like you’d wish someone would be there for you.
I stand before you because of my support system. Because people took interest in how I was doing. I wasn’t always this person. This took time and guidance from the right people.
Guidance from people who always noticed me when I didn’t notice myself. So please remember to notice one another and to keep finding new meanings to our existence because we are here for a reason and we are here together.
Martin Luther King Jr once said,
“ I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
And without seeing JUST a man or woman’s skin tone or social status. Martin Luther King Jr chose that day, August 28th, 1963, to begin a new and to create new meanings to our existence.
He wanted us to know that every other person you may come across, is just like you and me. A human being, trying to get through life the best way we know how.
The best way, for me at least because I can’t speak for everyone, but the best way for me…is to be vulnerable. Vulnerable with my emotions, how I speak, how I portray myself… vulnerable: being who I am for as long as I can. Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.
It takes time.
Like most anything does but when we choose to love. To mean our “Hellos” and “How are you doings?” life gets a bit easy to swallow. It gets easier to cast away the demons that may follow us on a daily… like anxiety & depression. I’ve dealt with both and here is something that came out of that…
– Difference –
I was happy yesterday, so I should be happy today?
They tell me everyday is a new day, so why don’t people understand when I say…there’s a difference
There’s a difference between my sadness today and my happiness of yesterday
There’s a difference between me hoping things will get better tomorrow…and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that
But deep down knowing, I’m dreading tomorrow…and the day after that and the day after that and the day after that
Today may be a new day but it brings with it new emotions, and they just love to play
Not a day goes by that I’m not afraid, asking myself “what will I do today”
Before I ultimately make the sacrifice to stay in bed
Because sleeping all day seems to be the best way to handle these emotions at play
They can’t play if I just lay still
But today is a new day, enjoy the sunshine…
There’s a difference in the sunshine of today and the sunshine of yesterday
And that sun don’t seem to shine on a black and white pantomime
When everyday you feel trapped in a box or pushed down by the wind
Screaming at the top of your lungs and bursting at the seems to escape the skin your in but…no one can hear you
Those who go about their day basking in the sun’s rays
While people like me can’t even control their emotion of the week, sorry..the day, but heyyy it.will.get.better
I keep hearing that
But there’s a difference between it will get better and it’s been like this for years so when will this “it get better” thing kick in because I’m ready to kick it in. Leave behind me a broken down door of horrors and fears and let the mornings melody serenade my ears…I’m deaf
Deaf to the sounds of a good vibe, deaf to the sound of a friend consoling my wounded slef because as this anxiety kicks in, it makes me ask…who am I to be so, Self
Who am I to take up somebody else’s time…on me
This anxiety makes me question my very being and why I’m, being
But there’s a difference between you and me…I’m actively working on me
You just see me, being sad and sometimes unhappy
Smiles one day and tears the next, asking what is wrong with me
But there’s a difference I know what’s wrong and you’re just judging me
Pushing me deeper and deeper into the abyss of unhappiness
Covered by a Cheshire Cat smile, while uttering the words “I’m fine”
A daily line I force feed myself so I don’t get judge or impede on someone’s sunshiny rays of the day
But there’s a difference, because as I work so hard to hide the fact that I’m not ok. Hide from judgment and make it seem like my day is like your day, anxiety and his friend depression meet up and judge me like a stallion in the Kentucky derby…not fit to grace the winner circle…not fit to even run the race
Today is a new day but…there’s a difference – (Brandonevp)
We must teach our youth that dark days will come and that even in our darkest days, there will always be a shining light. Because as the song goes “Trouble don’t last always”.
And when you wake each morning it’s a new day and we must make it count. We lived yesterday and there is nothing we can change about it.
But today we can start by Uplifting one another, supporting each other, spreading LOVE to each other and take notice of who you come in contact with.
Martin Luther King’s dream did not die with him. It is our job, No, our duty to make sure his dream never dies. To make sure we start anew. To make sure our lives have meaning. To make sure we celebrate our differences, not condemn them –
As a young black man in this world I had questions about who I am and who I should be. Where I’m going and where I came from. How I got here and how would I get to where I need to be.
As I got older I wondered why my blackness wasn’t enough for my white friends. Why the way I speak wasn’t black enough for my black friends. Why my posture and good manners made me a target for words I can’t repeat and gestures I dare not show.
As I got older, I stopped wondering. I realized I just had to be me.
There was no box I could fit in and no circle I couldn’t be a part of. I wrote “Difference” because I was going through depression and severe anxiety. I was a teenager. I wanted people to understand they were not alone. That these things can happen to anyone.
Our youth needs to know that you are there for us and are willing to listen. Whether they are going through depression, anxiety, homelessness, abuse, suicidal thoughts or any type or situation. Take our hand and lead us to this position where I stand in front of you today. Teach us to be leaders. We are strong but the parents know we are hard headed. But we are also the future. If you have us, if you notice us…you have the world.
And so I will leave you with this last poem called…
– Unclear –
What am I doing here?
A question that I ask myself…still unclear
What am I doing here?
I have no right!!
I fear the end is near
Dead end after dead end
When will it end?
I’m busy all the time
Reading lines and making rhymes
Sharing my talents and breathing these words…I’m done
Is what I want to say…I’m done
No more games, no more fun
I’m completely done
Done with moving forward and looking back
Back to small rooms, starvation and anxiety attacks
Small rooms in my mind, getting smaller day by day
Starving my creativity, a voice I silenced…kept at bay
Giving me anxiety attacks, crippling and utterly dreadful they were…I thought I’d never survive
Never survive like my daddy who left me behind
Shot dead by a trigger that he pulled
Little did he know he shot me too
Heartbroken, saddened and angry I was…still am, to be honest
I hated me and blamed the world
So I constantly asked myself…What am I doing here?
Here to be reminded of betrayal when I look in the mirror?
Here to be hated by myself when I wake in the morning?
Here to be broken over and over, year after year?…to no avail, I break down in tears
At some point the tears stopped coming out
I realized my body and soul had enough
They told me “boy suck it up”
No longer will I be the victim of circumstance
They said “you used to be strong”
I used to be a force to be wrecked with
But at that time I was the leaf in a hurricane
Letting people wash me away as I crumbled in defeat
My body and soul had enough
So I finally stood up!
Brandon was back and ready to be
To be what he was meant to be
Yea it’s all bittersweet but can’t nobody be me like me!
The attitude, the anger, the laugh, the sass…it all came flowing back
I found who I was
I FOUND WHO I AM!!!
A fun loving, no care in the world, non filter having Buddhist…so I say to you…I’M HERE!!
To embody who I truly am
To be 100% me 100% of the time
No fear for what may happen…this anxiety is no longer my captain
So…WHAT AM I DOING HERE?!?!
To be me!
To uplift people with this shining personality
To bring life with my smile and joy with my laughter….I’m here…to be uniquely me
To change the world with my words and love whoever needs love in return
I am designed by the cosmos, birthed from a Queen and loved by a kingdom…
WHAT AM I…doing here!?!?!
A question that I ask myself…
Is it still unclear?
Thank you for your love and time. It is truly an honor to stand up here in front of you all. Be blessed and please start to notice each other… Thank you
Brandon Eriq Vaughn Puryear