Big Brother Jimmy and Little Brother Darrin
In all of the hustle and bustle of my busy days here in Chile, rarely a day goes by that I don’t thank God for my family and the life my parents provided for us as children. Few experiences are more precious than the love of your brothers growing up. The confidence, protection, and sometimes (terror) that siblings bring into our space, can leave an indelible impression that can follow you for the rest of your life. The love, care, and protection that I received under the umbrella of my brothers’ self-appointed guardianships over me and my sisters, has contributed to my being able to be in Chile today. In reflection, from the time they showed us how to physically fight, to their being vulnerable, even crying in front of us girls my brothers are very special. Their maturity and love over the years has only grown and has contributed to their being loving and excellent fathers to their own children today. Sure, they weren’t perfect and made mistakes like the rest of us. But, I think they have no idea how proud we all are of them at times and I am using this reflective moment to share that point with them and the world. I love you Jimmy and Darrin, you guys are the best kind of awesomeness brothers. <3 ¡Los quiero mucho!
I will never forget the time when I was in the elementary school walking home with my little sister. Another young boy in my grade had taken a fancy to me and caused a small circle to form around us near the playground because he wanted me to give him a kiss. I was in total fear and shock because at that point I had never kissed any boy and I most certainly didn’t want that exchange to be with him (not my crush). Out of fear my little sister ran home to get my mom and left me alone with this brute and the circle of chanting classmates. Then all of a sudden this fiery little kindergartener (my little brother Darrin) appeared out of no where and assailed the would be “Romeo” with punches, telling him he’d better leave his sister alone.
I was rescued!! 🙂 I constantly recount that story at family gathering as it always makes everyone laugh. But, that is simply how our brothers were with their sisters. They protected us and on more then a few occasion caused us girls to be in neighborhood fights with them as they tended not to back down to anyone. The picture above shows my Big Brother Jimmy wearing boxing gloves he had received for Christmas. Those are the same boxing gloves he used when I asked him to show me how to fight. We were bouncing on the bed like Muhammad Ali until the first punch my brother laid to my arm caused me to drop. At first, I wanted to stop and cry because I felt he had punched me took hard. He laughed informing me that was a soft punch and continued the lesson.
By the time I reached middle school I had only one incident of bullying. I am sure the girl who was harassing me had no idea I had gone to the James A. Brown Jr. Boxing Camp during the summers and I gave her a beat-down she would not soon forget. That actually was the last physical altercation I ever had in school following that incident. I now had a “rep” as a youngster and only needed to fight if someone was bothering my sibling. It seemed that when we were younger girls others thought my sisters and I were “soft” because we were by most standards cut girls. But, the neighborhood soon learned that you don’t mess with the Browns because we would battle in groups. My parents always told us that we were to stick together even if our sibling was wrong and they (my parents) would sort it out the mess after we got home. Therefore, we would always present a united family front whenever we were in public and still do so today. Those are valuable lessons we pass on to our own children and I think it has worked out well. None of our kids had to deal with any extended incidents of bullying as either a cousin, parent, or grandparent, would be at the school in a heartbeat to “resolve” the issue. lol
As you can imagine, my brothers could be very intimidating to would be suitors of our affections. Even for my sisters who are now wives, my brothers made it clear to their brothers-in-law… “I’ve got my eyes on you bruh!”
Nevertheless, you cannot find a more loving pair of brothers. I always asked them how they could seems so tough but be like putty in our hands if we were feeling down or vulnerable. To which they would always respond, “I love my sisters and would die protecting them!” So that’s the kind of legacy I have that has made me unafraid to try new things and go to new places. Of course, I exercise wisdom and don’t go places that are dangerous or where I could be harmed. But, I always felth that my Daddy and Brothers had my back. My brothers are always so proud of us and brag all the time to their friends about their beautiful, classy, accomplished, and intelligent sisters. That always makes me smile inside. I so wish all of my family could be here with me in Chile, experiencing this wonderful opportunity to see the world and life as a Black person living in a cultural context that isn’t the United States.
Today I received my residency card and RUN number that allows me to conduct financial business in Chile. I told my officemates “Ahora yo soy Chilean también“, and we all laughed at my errant assertion. However, I know that I am assimilating well here because Ricardo who is the office Director of University Planning and Development (and is sponsoring my workspace in his office) is one of the few persons that speaks fluent English here. Today when we ran into each other at the coffee machine he spoke to me entirely in Spanish. I then proceeded to tell Graciela the office manager that this now confirmation of my earlier assertion that I am Chilena. She laughed and challenged my assertion by telling me I had to go up upstairs and tell Olga (another office mate) that we were not having exercise classes this evening. To which I responded, ¿Es una prueba? (Is this a test?). lol
Yesterday, I used my RUN number to secure discount points at the grocery store. That was major for me on two levels. The first being I always look for savings when I grocery shop and was very frustrated that before obtaining my residency card I wasn’t accumulating points. The second is that I was able to do these activities all on my own and I wasn’t nervous anymore about conducting my affairs in Spanish. But, I ain’t goin’ crazy with it. I have to renew my student Visa in June and I will certainly have at least one of my Chilean homegirls with me to get all that competed successfully in Santiago.
As I arrived to campus I noticed these flags (banderas) representing the Universidad Católica del Maule and the country of Chile blowing in the wind on campus. They looked so majestic and strong, standing tall in the midst of the strong wind’s that crashed and assailed them. This image also reminded me of the characteristics my brothers possess and it also reminded me of how small the World is becoming. Who would have thought during the time that I was being terrorized for a kiss in elementary school that I would be walking the streets of Chile, South America to a University who is hosting me as a Visiting Scholar. Moreover, that I would be here in another country completing my doctoral dissertation research. I’m not a person who believes in happy accidents and luck. I believe in the favor that God shows to those interested in walking in their destiny, and holding to a higher purposes that reflects his love and intelligence in the world. To realize that I am that little Black girl from Lake Street, in Akron, Ohio, now positioning myself to complete my Ph.D. in Adult Education so as to become a woman who can “change the world”… well, words are too limited in their ability to describe this feeling.