Skip to main content

Taking Up

I against my brother
My brother and I against our father
My brother, my father and I against our uncle
And all of us against the infidel . . .

Old Arab Proverb (I'm told)

When I was a child, as part of a large black family, I was trained, as were my siblings, to "take up" for any of my siblings if any one of us got into a fight. Mind you, since I was the youngest, I didn't have to make good on this familial pact. It was understood that if any one of us got into a fight or was threatened with one, and there was another one of us around, they had better "take up" for the one who was in a fight or threatened. If we got home and our parents found out that we didn't take up for one another, we were going to get it. We would be judged, and there would be hell to pay. Didn't matter if your sister or brother started the fight -- that would be dealt with later -- all that mattered was that if there was going to be trouble, you'd best be fighting alongside your sibling instead of sitting on the sidelines or fighting against them.

Because "taking up" was a common phenomenon among black families in the ghetto during the '60's and '70's, if you lived in the ghetto, you pretty much knew what your odds were going into a fight. There were people who wouldn't mess with me because they knew my older brother would take up for me. "Don't mess with her. Her brother's crazy." Just the knowledge that you weren't going to be the only one they'd have to do battle with was enough to keep the peace. Don't start none, won't be none. Talk about a deterrent. I guess it was the ghetto equivalent of NATO.

You don't expect when you're in your forties that your siblings would still have to take up for you, but it's nice to know that they would. I won't dignify the person or the act that caused me to seek advice, solace and support from my siblings, but my siblings made it very clear that they would take up for me. Between sips of iced tea and bites of an off-the-chain pound cake (my sisters may not be Southerners, but like Southern women, there's always dessert in their house) I was given an infusion of SWIE-wit and the confirmation that the pact still stood. A subsequent family meeting in my absence involving my oldest brother made clear that the pact still stood.

I am blessed beyond measure to have the family I was born into. I don't know what I did to deserve it, but I know I am blessed.

The pact still stands. We may be sliding into middle age, but the pact still stands.

Thanks to our parents.


Popular posts from this blog

When You Leave The Ghetto, Don't Bring It With You

NBA player Gilbert Arenas brings a gun to an NBA locker room. NBA player Ron Artest lets his pit bulls run wild and free in Loomis, California while playing for the Sacramento Kings. NFL player Michael Vick did time for fighting dogs. And NFL player Plaxico Burress is doing time for shooting his damn self.

What do all these men have in common? BMNB would say an inability to make a profound paradigm shift. I’m less eloquent than BMNB is, so I’ll say it differently: The inability to leave the ghetto behind.

Yes, call me saditty, bourgie, elitist, stuck-up, whatever. I don’t care. Until you’ve had a tweaker ruin your Thanksgiving turkey, you don’t even know (more on that later), and I’m not trying to hear you.

Living in Western Placer County, my husband and I continue to hear stories from folks like us who had to flee “those who can’t leave the ghetto behind.” You know these people, and they come in all races. In our case, we had returned to Sacramento in 2004 and 2005, respective…

Black Woman Blogging's Gun Control Proposal

Thanks to a relative who sent me death threats, I became a gun owner. Reluctantly.  What can I say.  You don't choose your family.

That said, I'm for gun control.

As far as I'm concerned, America lost its moral compass when we didn't do squat after Sandy Hook.  If you can allow a madman to murder children and not be moved to do nothing, you have no moral compass.  Period.

Now that we've broken an unfortunate record for the number of people killed in a mass shooting, perhaps we as a country are ready to get our minds right about gun control.  Perhaps.  So in that spirit, I offer my gun control proposal.

First, we need to agree on some real (not alternative) facts and principles:

1.  There is no such thing as an unlimited right.  Yes, people, there are no unlimited rights protected under the Constitution.  Your right to free speech?  Well, not all speech is protected under the First Amendment and even protected speech can be limited by time, place and manner.  Your…

Retired Man Walking: Too Young to Retire, Too Old to Take Shit

A while back I ran into a friend and fellow professional employed by the State of California, and he offered me his perspective on State employment as a tail-end Baby Boomer like myself -- someone who can't retire because he lacks the requisite age or years of service, but, unlike myself, is tired of taking shit from superiors who don't know what to do with you.

Although my friend gave his permission for me to use his name in this blog entry, I decline to do so because what he does is so specialized that it would not be hard for anyone to identify him as one of the few African American men, if not the only African-American man, in California state civil service who does what he does. For purposes of this blog entry, I will refer to him as he now refers to himself:  Retired Man Walking.

Retired Man Walking, or RMW, has an interesting philosophy he applies to working for the State as a professional who isn't old enough to retire but has been around long enough to know the s…