Am I Brother's Keeper: Not My Brothers Keeper
Standing in the convenience store and pointing a gun at the clerk, I pictured myself escaping with a lot of cash. As I grabbed the money, I dashed out the door, followed by three other G's (gangstas). The heist seemed well thought out until I heard two loud sounds, like lightning bolts striking the ground. As I began running faster, I heard something squealing like a pig. I looked back. One of the G's had fallen, with blood dripping from his arm. I hesitated, and two G's ran past me. I was in shock; they were thinking only of themselves. Now I had a crisis on my hands. Should I keep running or aid my fellow gangsta who had been "tagged" (shot)? I headed in the direction of the wounded G, but I heard police sirens wailing in my direction. I panicked and made a quick right, which led me to an alley I used to take home. I couldn't think straight. All I could think about was my fellow G ratting us out. I also heard a voice in my head as my house became visible: How will the other gangstas view my status after I left a wounded gangsta? Would my rank drop because of the decision I made? Was this my wake-up call to let me know that it was time to end this gang violence? I walked slowly up to my door. I caught my breath. Then a voice said, "23.21.6." (Another G was calling me by code.) "6.16.5," I replied. Ten G’s appeared. I showed each some love (a handshake). Then we talked for about 10 minutes before my superior walked up along with the two G's who had fled the heist. Before I could address him, he quickly asked, "Am I my brother's keeper?" I didn't know how to answer, so I remained silent. He became angry and started pacing. "Am I my brother's keeper?" he asked again. "Why did you leave your fellow brother in his time of need?" "Why are you singling me out when there were four of us?" I said. "You have the most rank and were in charge of the operation," he exclaimed, circling around me. I didn't answer. My silence angered him, so he began "stacking" in my face (talking through gestures). I knew that I could beat him but chose to remain still. He kept stacking. I continued to keep my composure and remained still. He stacked closer and faster to my face. I stepped back so there would not be any accidents. He realized that I was not going to stack against him, so he stopped. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” he repeated. “I’m not anymore, and in fact, I want out,” I replied. At that moment, his eyes lit up as if he had seen a ghost. I turned away. Before I took my first step, somebody threw a punch. As I reacted, more punches were thrown from all sides. There was no way to retaliate because the punches came faster and faster. They did not stop until I hit the ground. “Out that!” I heard one of the G’s say. I lay on the ground for about two minutes before they left. I got up and went into the house. I called my girlfriend. It thrilled me that she wanted me to come over. I cleaned up and headed to her house. While walking to her door, I saw three of the gangstas who had jumped me. I spoke to them because I understood that they had to pursue the beating, or they would have gotten a violation (a physical beating by 12-14 gangstas). I walked inside my girlfriend’s house; finally, I could relax. I told her about what happened, and she began to weep. I felt bad as tears poured out of her eyes. I hugged her and told her that I wanted out. She broke away and said, “It’s about time. Plus I don’t think your son would appreciate you gang-banging.” When she said that, I backed up and picture myself in heaven. It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. “I’m going to be a daddy, I’m going to be a daddy,” I repeated at least 12 more times. I forgot all about the heist. I sat down on her bed and began to cry tears of joy. She kissed me, and I told her that I loved her. I also promised her that I was going to do what I had to do to get out. As the months passed, I did everything required to get out. Every step of the way, I had my son in my mind. It was a long process, but I pushed forth to finish what I started. When my son was born, my mission was already complete. I finished enough tasks to raise my rank, which led to dropping my set (stop any form of gang activity). As I held my son for the first time, I realized that I had become a man. It was one of the best feelings I have ever had when I looked down at my son. Every time I looked at him, he seemed so innocent. The entire world seemed to revolve around him. He spent one night in the hospital, and I stayed glued to him as a baby kangaroo in its mothers pouch. The next day he was well enough to leave the hospital. As we reached our destination and I was taking him into the house, I saw two G’s walking toward my direction. “Tape,” they yelled from the distance. (Tape was the name that the gangstas gave me) They walked up to me and signaled to show them some love. I had to because even though I dropped my set, I was still considered in the gang, but I did no have to participate in any of there acts of violence. “Is that the new soldier,” one of the G’s said. “This is my little soldier. He has nothing to do with the nation,” I said. At that moment, there was a puzzled look on their faces. The reason they seemed shocked was because when there is a child born from a G, the child is automatically born into the gang. It is also the duty of the G to stack over the child’s head, which signifies them as a gangsta. After about two minutes of their just staring at me, I asked “Do y’all have a problem.” “I thought you were suppose – one began to say. “No, we don’t have a problem; in fact we out,” the other said. I didn’t say anything to them. I turned around and walked in the house. I stayed close to my son all the time. Many people worried about me because they rarely saw me. Random people were not the only ones that noticed that I hardly was around. The G’s also noticed. Since I was never around, one of the head G’s called a nine (a meeting where all the G’s meet and discuss the nation’s business and if anyone misses it, an automatic violation will take place for that person). On the day of the nine, one of the G’s that I considered at a true friend came and told me about it. “Tape, we have a nine scheduled for six o’clock,” he said. “A nine! When was this called?” I shouted because I was shocked. “All I know is that some of the G’s feel that you have neglected your part in the nation. I don’t want nothing to happen to you, so if you attend, watch your back,” he explained. It was 5:30 p.m. when he left my house. I showed up at the nine, and everyone seemed shocked that I found out about it. Towards the end of the nine, an OG (one of the higher ranked gangstas) called me out and asked me what my duty in the nation was. I replied, “Under our Creed, it says if one gangsta drops his set, then he does not have to engage in any forms of physical violence.” After the nine was over, he told me to talk with him for a while. I was scared because I thought he was going to hurt me, but he didn’t. Instead he filled my head with a lot of nonsense. - Do you know how much rank you can obtain? Do you want to be a head in this gang? Are you worthy of being an OG like me? These are some of the questions that he put in my head. What makes it so bad is I actually gave in to it. I headed back to my house with a lot of things in my mind. As I turned around the corner, and saw my son outside playing, it put a smile on my face, until I witnessed that he was not being supervised. “Toya” I yelled. “Toya, Where are you?” “I’m right here,” she said as she walked out the door. “Why is my son out here playing while you in the house?” I asked furiously. “Chill out. I just went in the house to answer the phone,” she replied. “Anything could have happened to him while you busy socializing. Is the person you on the phone with more important than your child’s life?” I said. “Man, whatever.” She said. We argued for about ten more minutes. We stopped when my son began to cry. I turned around and walked off. “I hate you,” she yelled. I went to one of my friend’s house for the next couple of days. My girlfriend called for me a lot, but I never responded. Two weeks passed and I still did not return a single call. I began to wonder about my son. Finally, I realized that I have neglected him for two weeks. I went to my girlfriend’s house. I expected to be welcomed with open arms, but I was wrong. As soon as I knocked on the door, I heard a deep voice say, “Step back from the door.” I turned around and was speechless to see that it was the police. They walked over to me and guided me to the police car. The G that was shot during the robbery had ratted me out – that is all I could think about. The police officers told me why they stopped me. They said that because of the argument with my girlfriend, a neighbor complained to the landlord, who banned me from his complex. I was relieved that they did not stop me because of the robbery. I went back to my friend’s house and called my girlfriend. “Hey baby,” I said. There was a long pause. “Toya,” I called. “What?” she replied. Before I could say something else, I heard a dial tone. I hung up the phone and sank in the chair. For the next couple of hours, I just sat and thought about my life and my son’s life. I also thought about our future. Later that night, I called Toya again. When she answered, I said “don’t say nothing, just listen. Meet me around the corner from your house in ten minutes.” I hung up and went to the spot I told her about. She was already there when I arrived. To my surprise, she also had my son with her. I grabbed him and gave him one of the biggest hugs ever. “I love you, little man,” I said softly in his ears. I told my girlfriend to sit down on the curb. As she sat down, we began to talk. I told her about my life and how I felt it was going downhill. I talked about my future and I expected my son’s future to be. Tears began to run down my face because the conversation was getting so deep. Finally, I said “I love you Toya, but it’s best if we separate. In fact, I am leaving tomorrow to move to Miami.” She looked at me with her watery eyes. “Don’t leave, Marcus. We need you,” she said. “I have to; if I don’t leave, I will be dead in less than a year because of the lifestyle I live,” I replied. “Just know that I love both of you, and that will never change.” It was hard for me to say that, but it was the best thing to do. I gave my son one more hug and two kisses on both of his cheeks. “Daddy loves you. Don’t ever forget that,” I said then left. Moving to Miami was the best thing that ever happened to me. I enrolled in school again and graduated two years later. I also was baptized and became a Christian as I always wanted. Gang banging is old news to me because my life has taken a different direction. Instead of actual gang banging, I speak to children of all ages about my past and the sacrifices I made to get my life together. I was also interviewed by a local program in Miami called “Boys 2 Men,” which advocates abstinence, and discourages teen pregnancy, drugs, and gang violence. My son is growing up well. We have the best relationship that a father and son could have. My son is proud of me because of the choices I have made. Now when he smiles at me I fell more of a man than I ever felt before.