We're always getting slammed. No respect. No credit from the media. I read a newspaper, watch a movie or turn on the TV, and all I see is killing, killing and more killing. You think The Washington Post, Newsweek and HBO don't know what they're doing? Is it a coincidence that nearly all images of my entourage are negative? I see no positives, no role models, nothing to be proud of for me in mass communication. They say that we're too materialistic, too flashy, too slow and too stupid. Whatever. Where are my achieving, charismatic, boosted-GPA, resume-stacked brothers? This is a tribute to all the top-notch black men out there. We don't get enough credit. Pat yourself on the back for doing something nice. I want to extend my hand to all of the black men at UNC. Being a black man in this world, the cards are already stacked against you. The playing field is not level. Role models are few, schools are bad and poverty is rampant. Dr. Pederson would know that this is some dangerous chemistry. There just hasn't been the opportunity to accumulate capital in our community. The reasons are complex, but simple. We just achieved our "so-called" civil rights about 30 years ago. Anybody that has escaped an environment of negativity such as this to stand on the threshold of some consistent, clean, real status and achievement has something to be proud of. Now it's time for the fun part. Let's get started, shall we? This isn't arrogance. Arrogance is making a statement that you can't back up. This is confidence. As a black man, you better be confident. You better believe that nobody can stop you. You were separated from the mainstream since birth. As a youth, negativity clouded your hope and covered your shine. Now confidence is the weapon that you have to transcend your circumstances and take your accolades. Am I strapped? You better believe I am. I pack big heat everywhere I go. I'm on call 24 hours a day. I'm asleep with half-closed eyelids, because I always have to watch my back. The arsenal I got can blow anybody's head off. I'm loaded. The scary thing for the competition is that I'm just getting started. I decided to mobilize a couple years ago. I got a .22 in my Jansport, a Tek under the bed and a pistol in the briefcase. Big heat. Is my right-hand man strapped? You better believe he is. He's on the roof covering me with a semi-automatic. He's looking out for me as I nudge my size-11 Timberlands in the door. Once I'm inside the establishment, I grab my ally by the arm and yank him inside. We hold the line at the intersection of Ebony and Ivory avenues. Next, hundreds of our soldiers storm the stronghold in enemy territory. Who would have ever thought the fortress across the railroad tracks, the avenue and the river would ever fall? The uniform of my men is easily identifiable. Squadrons march and pound the rhythm in Timberlands. Fly boys in jets rocking Avirexes running aerial assaults. Messengers move like Air in Nikes. The Northern unit executes maneuvers with big heat beneath North Faces and Polar Bears. Spies occupy distant lands in three-piece suits. This is just the beginning. We've won the battle. Can we win the war? It's time to regroup and reload. My unit can count on me. I'm in an arms race against my rivals and foes. I must keep the magazine loaded with cutting-edge weaponry. I know when I enter the war full-tilt I'll be prepared. I'm not coming out of this four years of basic training with nothing to show for it. How can I achieve the rank of general without hard work? I know I can't rise through the ranks without grinding it out daily, studying politics, learning strategy and understanding mathematics. It's a war out here. I honor those that sacrificed themselves to clear a path for myself. I promise not to squander the efforts of anybody that died on the battlefield. I praise these war heroes with every step I take in a positive direction. None of my achievements would have been possible without their tireless labor and extraordinary bravery. I really do wish for an end to this war. But I must face reality. Anybody who believes that a treaty has been signed is ignorant to the world at large. The battle continues to rage on behind the scenes as you read these words. Will I ever have an opportunity to emerge from the trenches and demonstrate my full potential? When can I end my paranoia of being gunned down by enemy fire before I earn my stripes? It really is disheartening to rise each morning to put on a bulletproof vest to shield my heart. Ralph Ellison: Have a productive Fall Break. Get your rest, because there is no truce in sight. Sadly, you may be an Invisible Soldier forever. Return to Chapel Hill ready for warfare. Reach the junior business administration major from Silver Spring, Md., at email@example.com.