It's so much more than a tattoo. With RDQLUS, it's still all about storytelling.
Each needle poke, moving at near sonic speed has purpose. Each drop of injected ink is meant to tell a story; interestingly enough, mostly to myself. While tattoos have become increasingly above-board in popularity and eased stigma, exposed ink still carries prejudices and all that come with that. I consider mine like cave paintings, or runes that protect, guide and inform. So what exactly is the story behind the phrase, "By Breed, or by Deed"?
A few years before my grandfather passed, he gave me a gift beyond measure, especially as a young Black American man; he gave me the rundown of the family history and taught me that my last name is my own. Not that of a slave owner, as many Black Americans are forced to admit or face. No. He told me of my Scots-Irish heritage, and with a verbal history lesson over the phone, while I sat alone at an IHOP having breakfast, he told me, "You are a 'Gordon', be proud!" My goodness. What a compass-shifting moment for me. With my wife's help, I began digging & finding amazing information, becoming engrossed in heraldry, mottos and family pride. And still there was the obvious; I am a Black man with Scottish blood. My research did little to stop the jokes or smirks, even as proud as I was becoming of that portion of my heritage. So what do I do? How do I cope with knowing something so important but having others show little faith in it? Own it. Become a hyper-vigilant member of something larger than just family. I was now part of a "clan"—the "Clan Gordon," and my branch would have it's own mottos and meanings that I hope add to the overall legacy of all named "Gordon." That's how it began.
I love words & writing when meaningfully tied directly to real actions. I took the scoffing and smirks at my seemingly unbelievable background and began to outline the story. I have zero control over the circumstances of my birth, so I will feel no guilt nor overt pride at simply being born (except for the fact that I reached the egg— winner!). I also refuse to be settled upon or judged by the same circumstances. However, the fact is that people will indeed make judgements—that is just human nature. So the first story and meaning behind the phrase is that I will indeed be looked upon by society in two ways; first by my skin color, by my parents actions, and by the place I lay my head every night. I'm a Black kid from Projects who was born and raised in the "hood"—and let's not fool ourselves, we all have a knee-jerk reaction to that base set of criteria. Secondly, I will be viewed by the things I do and the way I navigate through life. In short; I will be looked upon by my "breed" or by my "deeds," so it was up to me which would shine more brightly.
The second meaning is far more romantic, and more in the realm of fantastic dream & hopes made real and brought to fruition. In feudal & medieval lore, there were three ways to become a person of note or importance; you were either born to it, given it or you took it. How did the royals & nobles become such if not but by being the strongest, most feared, most respected and most daring—or at least in league with such. If power or position was not granted by gift, or handed down by birthright, then it was taken. I have survived where statistics tell me I should not have. I have thrived where no fertile ground was granted to me. I have passed through where doors have been forcibly closed to me. All with skill, blessings and even kindness from others. So I am actively writing a new chapter in my family's legacy. I am doing things my parents could have only dreamed of. I am hopeful that I am forging a new legacy that even those who came before me—or even those who are attached to me in any way—can find pride in. My breeding is still in progress, and I am gaining more control of the narrative by the day. My deeds are not the stuff of perfection, by I pray that the balance in the end will find me favorable, and a man who at least strove for a modicum of honor and nobility in a time and world that did not expect it from a person of my background, if by then you even remember my background at all. So that in the end—by Breed, or by Deed—I am indeed nobility… I am royal. (And yes, you now know why RDQLUS CREATIVE's logo bears a crown.)