Recidivism & Sources of Shame


So I had always thought that my little brother was a hopeless case. Actually, I still do, but I always thought that he was a hopeless criminally inclined individual with no grounds for being one. I thought he was criminally inclined due to 1. Nature: his extra chromosone that seems to run among the incarcerated crowd, and 2. Nurture: his having grown up in ghetto places in Camden & Philly, as well as the dysfunctional family we grew up in. Now I’m starting to think that there may also have been something else in there. Of course, there are a multitude of factors that go into making us all who we are, but I thought that these two were the prevalent ones making Keegan the petty criminal we know him as today. I’m starting to doubt this.

Now I’m thinking that the lacking father figure played more strongly into his personality than originally thought, that and the overwhelming number of women in his life. I’m worried that it may also be my fault; perhaps he thought he should be the father figure that our family lacked, and needed to take charge of life in whatever way he could. I don’t know…

I have this memory of him, a proud one for him, but a shameful one for me. I was 11 years old, being followed home from school one day by a gang of black girls who wanted to beat me up. My method was to ignore their taunts, until it came to the point that they got physical and began trying to trip me. Cowardly as I was, I did not fight, but finally turned around and engaged them in conversation, likely asking them why they were doing what they were doing. Cowardly, I know, but this was my preferred method of confrontation if confrontation was necessary at all. I had seen enough fighting in my brief life between my mother and father-in-law, and was not fond of the process or its after effects.

I recall Keegan having been coming back from school as well at the time, a ways behind the lot of us. He, having caught up, and bold and full of pride, decided he was going to fight the lot of them (4 in total). But in the ruckus, one of them pushed me down, and I, in shame and fright, ran home. I left him there, 7 years old, alone, fighting against 4 girls at least 4 years older than he. I don’t know how I could do such a cowardly thing, especially to someone who in reality I should have been protecting, but I did. It is one of the greatest sources of my current day shame.

I think perhaps this is why he has developed into the incorrigible criminal he is today. Perhaps he’s going to beat the scum at their own game. Perhaps he’s still fighting that battle I ran out on all those years ago. If so, then this is my fault, and there will be no end to it until I step up to the plate and finish the fight myself. I must ask him how to finish this fight, so he can stop fighting it for me.

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