Reggies Autobiography

Behind my twin brother (Robert) I entered this world blue, barely hanging onto life, born a breech baby 3rd June 1981 in an Oakland, California hospital. Sometimes I wonder if I was holding onto another type of Life inside Mamas womb. Upon our births my Dad retired from the Navy after some 25years of service, not wanting to raise Robert and me in a crime infested Oakland our parents moved us including an older brother Andre and sister Rebecca, relocated to Beeville, TX a place I was too young to remember. When Robert was 5 we moved again to San Antonio to be closer to grandma (mamas mama)


My Dad was addicted to the bottle which not only kept us packed and moving he couldn't keep a job and Mama couldn't foot the bills alone, but kept him and mama in fights. I remember the embarrassment of walking home from school with schoolmates, only to hear from the street my parents arguing inside the house. There were a few times I found police cars parked in front of our house. Once I walked onto the driveway to find the Dad handcuffed behind one. In Dads drunken rages we used to evacuate the house. However these episodes eventually came to an end. Early one morning as Dad lay in a drunken slumber mama crept in our rooms and in a hushed tone said, hurry up and get as much of yalls stuff you can fit in the car and dont make a lot of noise, she was divorcing dad. Robert, Rebecca and I started loading mama's car, I believe Andre was in the military then, I only recall one time when Andre was at the house when dad was trippin. I was about 11 years old with as many years exposure to a hostile environment. Though I hated awakening late at night to my parents fighting it was our life, one I accepted to some degree. By no means am I saying that mama should have accepted being abused. Its just as a child observing it, I couldn't put it in perspective. We left Dad to his slumber and an empty house to begin our lives in an apartment.


Growing up mama was usually the administrator of "ass whuppins" though the Dad always fought with mama and occasionally whupped us in a terrifying manner, he preferred man handlings, evil stares, or military style shouting. When my twin and I stayed at Dads trailer home as I watched TV, Dad started trippin picking up his 357 magnum off the floor and shooting a hole in the wall beside the tv, the man had his ways. There were many times mama would whip us, then demand the dad to follow up which he usually refused, maybe his refusal was his way of getting back at mama. Either way I had always felt whuppin was extreme punishment. When I had done something wrong, Mamas speeches were usually good enough. Whuppin only unnecessarily drove her point. It seemed she whupped me for stress relief and whether she realised it or not, she was exacerbating the problem.


Don't get me wrong mama is a intelligent classy and beautiful woman who did the best she could raising a hard headed man-child amongst conflicting societal forces.She worked and still works, from can to cant. And somehow, someway she made sure we didn't miss a thanksgiving dinner, nor christmas with presents beautifully wrapped under a decorated tree - a strong independent woman. No matter what I went through she had my back, we just couldn't get along, She was merely a victim of tradition, she got whupped alot when she was younger and felt we should be whupped too. However whuppin don't work out on every child. Trying to mould a child into a certain person by instilling fear and inflicting pain can have deleterious affects. One can look to chattel slavery for examples, Whilst most enslaved African Americans were subjected through violence, and thus emasculated, others were pushed into rebellion, and so it was for me, Every time mama whupped me the more authority she lost over me and the more i rebelled with an "i dont care anymore Attitude", but this wasnt the only factor in my deteriorating relationship with mama.


When we went back to the house to get the last of our belongings, as we left we saw dads car parked at the neighbourhood convenience store and pulled up next to it. It didnt matter how dad had treated mams thought out the years, i would blame mama for what i saw. Dad had as much of his belongings he could fit in his car which he was living out of, at least until he was able to get back on his feet. I felt violated as we drove away to our warm apartment with food in the refrigerator. This only made mama appear harsher to me, widening the divide between us.



Ironically the very environment my parents tried to avoid, moving us away from oakland, ended up being the very environment we moved into. Our new neighbourhood was referred to by its residents as "lil compton" an environment where drugs, gangs, crime and violence are a way of life. It operated under its own laws and polices itself, Welcome to the Sub-culture.


moving around alot presented me with a dilemma not one of fitting in but of being accepted by neighbourhood kids or schoolmates whos idea of non-acceptance didnt mean a respect for the individuals space, but a challenging of it. I had to fight in a type of initiation ritual, which did something to my temperament, because I didn't like to fight, I would rather have peace, especially since I couldn't find it at home. Yet the subliminal message of the environment was fight and you'll be respected, refuse to fight and you'll have more problems, there fore I was virtually coerced into fighting for an acceptance that led to the peace I sought. Likewise mama was also presented with a dilemma first our relationship was already strained by traditional whuppins, then the principles i was forced to adhere to outside the home conflicted with those mama tried to force feed me. This led to arguments between mama and I, which only made it easier for me to embrace sub cultural principles over hers. Arguments were pushing me out her house, besides peace outside the home took priority over peace within the home.


When Robert and I were younger Rebecca used to play games like "mother May I, or "Red Light, Green Light, with us. However after the Divorce, my relationship with Rebecca became non-existent. We kind of co existed under one roof, when we did talk we argued, and though they were sometimes entertaining, I was sick of arguments, the home was a place ididnt want to be. I looked at the home as merely being a place to eat, shower and rest my head. Our family unit was broken.


The subculture had sucked me into a mode of thinking in line with its norms. Through this limiting thinking, I limited the scope of my achievements. Though I didn't think to myself I want to be a gangsta" my reaction to sub cultural norms thrusted me in that direction. I saw more benefit in living this lifestyle than going to school. It didn't help that most teachers taught in a spiritless manner. This only made the hallways, or skipping school altogether, that much more appealing. Fighting and skipping landed me in I.S.S: In school suspension. If regular class was boring enough, I don't know how they expected me to sit in this class all day! Trying to find a way to deal" with me, the administratorsm then placed me in special education class. I didnt have a problem learning, they had a problem holding my attention. I was embarrassed by being placed in a "retarded class" as it was referred to in general by schoolmates. So to the hallways i went.


Mama took me to a psychologist to find out what was wrong with me. I was diagnosed with ADD (attention deficiency Disorder) and placed on a drug called Ritalin; which mama gave to me every morning faithfully, before I went to school. Then at school before lunch the nurse would come around and give it to me again. So I wasn't only in a "retarded class" I was taking medication. I was sure to appear Retarded. It made me sick Mama thought I needed medication to be normal. For a week or so I didn't speak to anyone to make it seem like I was taking the medication instead of spitting it out, just to see what everybody would say. Coming home from school one day, I heard Rebecca say to mama I see a major change in Reg. That medication is working" When mama agreed I cursed both of them in my head. In my mind, I was through with them both. Truancy laws didn't deter me from skipping. In fact there was thrill in skipping without being caught. I was no different than the times my friends and I would provoke police to chase us just to get away from them. Public schools were "running out of Options" in dealing with my truancy and occasional fights. Perhaps they should have been looking for options in creative teaching.


Eventually, they threw me in alternative schools. These places were no different than ISS, or any school I would attend in prison, except for the level of class work. I remember thinking "this work is too easy". It was like they sent me back a grade to upgrade my restrictions. Alternative schools merely placed me in a concentration of those that thought like me. Whatever corrective value alternative schools were supposes to have been undermined by it being perceived as I did as feats as incarceration in Juvenile Hall was validating a person's realness. Im sue those who designed alternative schools and prisons didnt think there would be a class of people who would be attracted to these institutions, as opposed to repelled by them. Then again.......


In Claude Browns autobiography Manchild in the promised land he conveys what it was like growing up on the crime infested streets of Harlem. Though his story is placed in the 40s and 50s, I was amazed at how relevant his experience was to mine in the 90s specifically, how incarceration was perceived. It wasnt abhorred but a place for social gatherings. Being there with his friends was like being on the streets. This perception can be accredited to the fact that prisons are mere microcosms of the society from which the prisoners came. Though some prisoners are from mainstream sectors of society, norms dictate prison life. The contradictions of societal norms are thus assimilated into prisons. Nevertheless when imprisonment is perceived as it was during the time Claude Brown and I was growing up, there is no deterrent effect. A glimpse into the mentality of the subculture.


After reading Manchild in the Promised Land I immediately thought, jurors should be required to red this great sociological piece before serving on the jury of a ubculturalist trial. Most jurors come from sectors of society where they arnt exposed to the subculture, and if they were it was most likely in a manner that didnt give them understanding of its nature to make them a reliable peer and judge. Jurors tend to place the subculturalist in a vacuum, not considering the ocio economical factors that played a role in thrusting the subculturalist on their reactionary rollercoaster through life. Prosecutors then use this ignorance to their advantage, merely igniting prejudices jurors may harbour, whether consciously or sub consciously, to get a desired verdict: Guilty!


In another attempt to get us away from "the Life" of the subculture Mama sent Robert and I to live with our older brother, Andre, in Wichita Falls, TX, where we fell right into some projects on Eastside Dr. Though gangbanging wasnt as prevalent as it was in Lil Compton, or other parts of San Antonio we would live, subcultural norms were the same, crime and violence were a common way of life. I remember sitting on the porch with my brother when a man walked into the middle of the street shooting at somebody 4 in the evening, then flipped us the finger for watching. We ran inside. Many times we didn't have food, so my brother and I along with Andre's girlfriends kids went to the store to steal Ramen soups, bologna, Pringles and other snacks; Something I would find myself doing back in San Antonio, living with the Ol'man who sometimes only had a package o turkey tails in the freezer. Thought this form of stealing desensitised me to some form of criminal behaviour none of these things affected me more than what eventually happened.


Robert and I were outcast in this household. Andre's girlfriends 3 kids (2daughters and 1 son) 2 of which were older than us, didn't like us for reasons unknown. Maybe they felt it was just more mouths to feed. The daughters were stand offish, while the son showed his hostility; one that culminated into his pushing Robert off a stool as he watched T.V, This made me feel like a coward, since i didnt stand up for my brother. However I was the next Targe. Another day after we got out of school, this brother that pushed Robert off the stool i allowed on of his girlfriends inside the house to beat me up in a markedly humiliating manner. When Andre came home and found out what happened, he had Robert and me Pack our belongings then drove us back to San Antonio. Over and over these incidents played in my mind until i was poisoned with a rage I silently vowed to unleash on anybody who threatened, myself or anybody I had love for. i wouldn't let anybody get the best of me again.


Mama moved to the southeast side,where i began my freshman year at Highlands high, I was 12 going on 30. Because of my style of dress and mannerisms I absorbed from crip members in our "hood and at school as friends. In doing so, I inadvertedly absorbed their enemies as my won based upon a subcultural dictum, "ride together, die together." As a result of this commonality, my willingness to embrace this family unit (since mine at home was broken) and the appeal of my rage to these crips (rage is attributed to strength, whereas, non-aggression becomes weakness), they initiated me into their set (faction)


The more aggressively I represented my set and warred with rivals, unleashing my rage, the quicker I rose to something of a star status. My combativeness led to 2 members of a rival gang jumping me during lunch at school, and my being expelled with a busted lip. Mama had no other choice but to send me to the Ol mans home in some trailer parks on the south west side.




Except for the times the Ol'man started tripping, drunk off vodka, i liked living with him, he pretty much allowed Robert and myself to do whatever we wanted. As long as we kept Gas in his car, we could use it; sometimes we had to when the Ol man ran out of vodka, Robert and I had to get an older friend to purchase some Vodka from the liquor store to help the Ol man curb his withdrawals. I couldnt stand seeing him shaking, sweating, and throwing up. I was only 14 then. It was here the Ol man would shoot his 357 through the wall, and Robert and I would steal food from handy Andy (grocery store) cause we didn't have any food at home. This is also when I started getting into trouble with the law.


First it was a pair of shoes I got caught stealing at the mall, not because I needed them, they were just popular, and I couldn't afford them. I wasn't in Juvenile Hall long before I was released into the Ol mans custody. Next i caught a possession of marijuana case, which landed me on the monitor. This time i was released into my grandma's custody, whom I wasnt getting along with. The Ol man said it was due to me being his son. Grandma and the Ol man never got along because of the way he treated mama. I thought it was because she saw too much of the Ol man in me. Maybe i look too much like him. Either way theres a way of saying something without saying it, and Grandmas body language said. I hate you, i felt. I couldnt stand her either. When Robert and I were younger, and we spent the weekends at grandma's with our cousin of equal age, playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the Nintendo, grandma used to tenderly call us "frogtails". But those days were long gone real fast.


I would sometimes go outside to sit in a lawn chair on the side of her house, listening to the radio and blowing some weed. When ever i came back in, i would see her, from the corner of my eye, looking at the monitor on my ankles from the corner of her eye. It was that from the corner of your eye type of look you would give to the woman in church you heard slept with the preacher. I started looking for a reason to leave. I didnt want to be someplace I wasnt welcomed. My opportunity came one morning when Mama and i got into an argument, and grandma jumped in with "Il kill you" that was all i needed. When Mama left, I left, catching the city bus to the southeast side. I cut the monitor off and ran the streets, sleeping from one loc's (crip hommie) house to another, until i was caught and sent to Juvenile Hall, where i would be beaten by the guards. For cutting off my monitor i was sentenced to 6-months in bootcamp, where i used cocoa-butter on the 2nd and 3rd degree carpet burns on my face (a result of the beating) to restore pigmentation doctors said wouldn't return.


I was almost 16 when i got out of bootcamp, I was released into the custody of Mama, who now stayed in an apartment on the outskirts of an upper middle class, predominantly white sub-division called Windcrest. When I turned 16 i got my drivers licence, Mama got me my first car, a 1979, tan Mercury Tracer, 2-door hatch-back. The car was in good condition, except for the motor. There were times I would press the gas pedal all th way down, and move no faster than 5 miles per hour. Lord forbid if I was driving up hill! I would have to ride the shoulder to keep cars from piling up behind me. Then, the car started to smoke. That car was a mess.


At this time, I was going to Roosevelt High, which was litrally across the street from Windcrest, on San Antonio's side. One day, driving through Windcrest on my way home from school, a Windcrest Police Officer driving in the opposite direction, turned around and put his lights on me. I thought about speeding off as I watched him turn around in my rear view mirror, since I was only blocks away from Mama's apartment, and had a gun under my seat. Then i remembered the acar might not want to work with me if i pressed the gas pedal down, so i pulled over.


By the time the Officer came to my car, I had my drivers licence and registration ready. The car was legit. He told me to step out the car because it smelled like marijuana. I was smoking a Black and Mild cigar, there was no marijuana in my car. Because of my ignorance of my rights, when he told me to step out of the car, I thought I had no choice. When he found the gun, he pulled out his and said "get on the ground! get on the ground" The way he was saying it, I thought if i flinched, he would shoot. Then in the news, they would say I was reaching for the gun he found in my car. Anyway, this unlawful carying of a weapon case landed me in T.Y.C (Texas Youth Commission) for a year. If i would have refused to step out the car, forcing him to call in drug dogs, I would have driven home that day. This officer showed up at my capital murder trial, testifying that his reason for pulling me over was because I had expired stickers. I just got my stickers! he pulled me over because i was an African-American, which braids in my hair, driving through a nice, white neighbourhood. Never mind I lived there.


In Juvenile Hall, I fought my way to an acceptance, which permitted me to do peace peacefully. However the TYC would be a different story I would have to start from scratch. I would have to fight the first person who even slightly disrespected me (according to subcultural norms) to validate my realness, and thus do my time in peace, least i fell prey to the ever-waiting wolves. And sure enough, after I got to my T.Y.C placement in Vernon, TX, I was called a "ho ass nigga" in my first test. With a "you made me do this to you" attitude, I put my hands on the brother. We became the best of friends afterwards. Why couldn't we have had that respect at first.?


Most of the brothers in my platoon (some 20 brothers) were beginning a phase I had started 4-5 years prior-- they were forming cliques. Since I was already a CRIP member, I had no interest in this cliques. Besides i was already outgrowing the gangbanging aspect of the CRIP life-- or rather,deathstyle (in the beginning CRIP wasnt about destruction, but uplifting community)


My disenchantment with gangbanging began when the brother who oversaw my initiation into my set looked on as I got jumped at Highlands High without having my back. I began seeing the futility, even counter productiveness in "set-trippin" warring with other sets, especially those that arnt combatitive. Ibegan seeing those I loved in those I had hurt or watched get hurt, not wanting them to go through any additional pain. For Life can be painful enough, without us adding to each others lot.


There were instances everyday after chow (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) where this clique would jump somebody different in our platoon. I had fashioned a weapon out of razor blades and a toothbrush in preperation for my turn. One day while we stood on line, waiting to fall outside for formation to go to chow, one of the brothers in the clique told the next would be victim, "we're goin to get your ass today! I shook my head, kind of laughing to myself, not because it was funny, but because of the absurdity of it all. This brother then looked at me and said, "what you laughing" bout, we gonna get your ass next! I swore to the whole platoon, whoever i got my hands on would regret it, and I would get everyone involved, one by one, after I got out of lock up. Several days later, after we got back from lunch, as the guard went into the control room to let our platoon into our dorm from the vestibule where we waited alone,(the time brothers got jumped), the brother who made the threat earlier, looked around, glancing at me several times saying "who we gon get, who we gon get"? I was posted up with my back against the wall, and my hands in my pants on my weapon. I guess they took me seriously, because they jumped everyone in the platoon but me. My first fight there must have given my words some credibility.


The nature of the subculture, when reacting to it, forces you to reinforce its norms, enslaving your mind to its programming. A mental slavery many people find despairing to transcend. For this reason, in Breaking the Chains of Psychological slavery Dr. Naim Akbar said, "this is why those who would choose to break the chains of mental slavery must be courageous. Only the very brave can resist the temptations or endure the isolation" Outside of direct experience, through analysis into the contradictory and self destroying nature of subcultural norms, preferably initiated by one conscious and respected in the subculture ( people only listen to those they feel understands where they come from ), disenchantment can be cultivated, from which will come the needed courage to liberate self.


In T.Y.C I found out that my parole officer would be the same one Robert had problems with throughout his parole, his name is John Rubulcava. I had a feeling Robert's problems would become my own. Before releasment from T.Y.C everyone had to develop a "sucess plan" they would abide by. Since I had obtained my G.E.D my plan was to take T.Y.C up on their offer to pay for 2 years of college education if I acted within a year of my releasement. I wanted to be a Licensed Vocational Nurse. If all else failed, I would take the A.S.V.A.B (military exam) and upon passing it, bypass parole into the custody of the Military, it didnt matter what branch it was. My success plan would have been good, there was just some obstacles I didnt factor in.


In T.Y.C I found out that my parole officer would be the same one Robert had problems with throughout his parole, his name is John Rubulcava. I had a feeling Robert's problems would become my own. Before releasment from T.Y.C everyone had to develop a "sucess plan" they would abide by. Since I had obtained my G.E.D my plan was to take T.Y.C up on their offer to pay for 2 years of college education if I acted within a year of my releasement. I wanted to be a Licensed Vocational Nurse. If all else failed, I would take the A.S.V.A.B (military exam) and upon passing it, bypass parole into the custody of the Military, it didnt matter what branch it was. My success plan would have been good, there was just some obstacles I didnt factor in.


After my releasment in 1999 I began making political statements through wearing clothing with the colour red in it (a colour abhorred by and not to be worn among CRIP members) and a cessation of the use of common terms that disrespected other sets/gangs, to demonstrate to gangbangers the triviality of the norms, which partially creates the division that fuels our self destruction. However I was still attracted to drugs. I wasnt ready to break all my chains.


Mr Rubulcava gave me a surprise U.A, and I came up dirty. I requested drug rehabilitation and he sent me to Gulf Coast in New Waverly, Tx, clearing brush in a forest for 3 months. In the evenings we had group, where we discussed our crimes, goals and moral issues. There were 2 Mexican American brothers in my group that not only had the same parole officer as I, they were also there for a dirty U.A. The only thing was Mr Rubalcave didnt violate their parole until after their 2-3 dirty U.A, whereas he violated mine after the first. I wondered if Mr Rubalcava being Mexican American had anything to do with it.


When i was released from Gulf Coast in January of 2000, full time employment (I would do anyways) 100 hrs of community service (10 hours a week) and weekly reporting were conditions of my parole. I had to get up at 5am to catch 3 buses to work, 5 days a week tue-sat. Then i had to catch a bus to southwest side of town to do 5 hours of the community service on each of my days off. After community service on Monday I had to catch several buses to the east side to report by 5pm. If i didnt have all 10 hours of community service completed, I was subjectd to write ups, which would eventually (after 3) lead to a violation of parole. At the time I didnt know that Mr Rubalcava was suppose to only give me 75 hours of community service, not a 100. He was setting me up for failure.


One day when i reported I told Mr Rubalcava to set up the necessary paperwork for to start college and get my nursing license. I had to change the flow of things. Mr Rubalcava said "I will , uh, speak to the coodinator to set it all in motion. A few weeks later after speaking to some recruiters at a mall, preparing for my back up plan (I knew Mr Rubalcava, was setting something in motion alright) I reported asking Mr Rubalcava, "whats up on the coordinator?" as he tried to give me some trashy excuse, I interrupted him and said "its all good. Look I wanna take the A.S.V.A.B to go into the military. He looked at me as though he had seen a ghost! I had thought he was thinking "Damn hes trying to get away from me. Hes getting too smart. When he told me he wouldnt allow me to go into the military, even though thy just allowed another parolee, it affirmed my convictions. I told Mr Rubalcava, "well since you're trying to get me locked back up again, next week, im not reporting to you, but to your supervisor, so set that up", then left his office.


The following week I showed up with the Ol'man and we had a meeting with Mr Rubalcava and his supervisor. I told the supervisor everything: Roberts relationship with Mr Rubalcava; how he favoured the 2 Mexican Americans at Gulf Coast; the overwhelming conditions of my parole; his refusal to make a sincere effort to get me in college; and his refusal to let me go into the military. As i pointed these things out, Mr Rubalcava's supervisor glanced at him in disbelief. After threatening to move out of their jurisdiction (despite not being economically capable) Mr Rubalcava's supervisor said "Mr Blanton, I know things seem to not be working out, but give Mr Rubalcava a chance, this is all i ask you. Can you please do this for me? A "Chance"! A chance he hadn't given me! I should have said no! Instead, through her appealing to my compassion and willingness to give someone a second chance, since I would want someone to have compassion for me and give me a second chance. I gave in.


A week or so later, I was locked up for this crime. (see in my blogs "case Profile" or view it at, it was no coincidence that prosecutors placed emphasis on these previously mentioned "crimes" to justify to the jury why I'm a furture threat to society" and thus deserving of death.


Information supplied by Reggie Blanton