Saturday, January 26, 2008

Excerpt from "My Life Sucked..." by A. Dacosta Brathway

Man, talk about history repeating itself... Back in the 60's, when the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing and the rhetoric that was being spewed from both sides of the ledger seemed to make sense, the Vietnam War was in full effect. (Just like the Iraq War now) At that time, the government implimented a draft and young males were chosen (like a lottery pick for the NBA) and issued a "status rating." There was certain criteria set that you had to meet that would determine when you were drafted. There was a list of conditions that the military determined how you could be drafted or not be drafted and there was nothing you could do about it. I remember thinking that I would have to go to war and never become the "genius" I thought was my manifest destiny. I did not want to go to war because I knew I would have a problem navigating the terrain in Vietnam. I knew that because I was having a problem navigating the gang turf in my 'hood. There were two prominent gangs happening when I was a kid. There were the Bishops and the Chaplains and, believe me, these two groups had nothing to do with the church! (That is unless they were violating a rectory to rob the sisters out of their "vow of silence" allowance!)/ I lived in Bishop territory. A block away from me was the border between Bishop terrirory and Chaplain terrirory. On the surface that was not a problem for me, since I was neutral. But, it became a problem for me because of my mother every weekend. My mother had this thing about me going to the grocery store every Saturday to pick up the usual suspects... Breakfast cereal, milk, some kind of cheap meat, and her feminine hygiene product. The Chaplains thought that because I lived in Bishop territory, I was a Bishop. When I had to go to the store, I had to find a way to explain to them, when they stopped me, that I was not a Bishop and I was going to the store for my mother. For some reason, that was not enough of a passport to get me through the gauntlet they had set up. I should have chosen track as my sport because I got real fast!/ Needless to say, I did not always get through untouched. I remember once I tried to explain to them that I was not a Bishop or a Chaplain... Hell, I was in conformation classes in the Episcopal Church to try to become an alter boy and they wouldn't let me join their gang! It might have been easier to just take the gang initiation then going through those classes! Anyway, I took two ass whippings that day. After the Chaplains were done, I had to go home and explain all of this to my mother. Under normal circumstances, she would have understood but this particular Saturday was a heavy flow day and her maxi-pads were of vital importance. In retrospect, maybe I would have had an easier time in Vietnam!

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