Brotherhood is the very price and condition of man’s survival.
-Carlos P. Romulo
I appreciate the good brother Joshua Bennett for inspiring this blog post.
I come from the Gordon Family, the beautifully crafted, sometimes dysfunctional, monstrously intelligent nuclear family since the illustrious year of 1988. I’m also the only boy in the family, the traditional carrier of a last name has left me with certain important idiosyncrasies and personality traits. I’m simultaneously:
- an appreciator of diplomacy,
- a fiercely hardworking human being,
- a budding polymath
- a bit of a self deprecator,
- a person who thinks for himself,
And so on, ad infinitum….
However, one part of my identity I’ve always owned, but wondered about, was my being a brother. I’ve grown up in mostly a family of women; I’m a brother by blood, but I’ve never had one. I’ve always wondered what it meant to have one of those. I love my sisters to death, but I continue to ask questions about how my experience with a male sibling would have been different.
What would it have been like with a brother?
What crazy exploits, concerning debacles, great experiences would I have had with a fellow ball of testosterone at my side?
Could I define myself as more of a man, if I had someone to sharpen my knife blade of masculinity during my impressionable years?
Mind you, this particular thing had always made me feel a bit incomplete. It seemed unfair, in a selfish way, that I couldn’t have a male confidante on this path of life. Friends did well, but what about the fears when I go to sleep at night? What about true connections, dependence, foundation, and love, which comes from true brotherhood? What did such a label really mean? If only I had a community which taught me what it meant.
Enter Morehouse College.
Anyone who has heard of my alma mater knows the types of community she fosters, but if youve never been exposed before, here are a few reminders. The most critical thing Morehouse offered me, however, was a community of outsiders. Black men in our society are not meant to succeed, and yet my classroom were filled with international success stories.
An epiphany eventually hit me about the importance Morehouse had on my life. I always thought racism was an act of hate, where individuals establish arbitrary heirarchies because of phenotypical differences. On a superficial level, racism does include this hate, but it is so much more. Racism is a systematic global disease, manifested in pervasive hegemonies classified by separating races in multitudinous ways. In my life, racism manifested in the pressures of race blindness, combined with a feeling that my skin color consistently made me out of place. I was looked at as a racial anomaly: surely a black kid couldn’t be interested in skateboarding, punk rock, multivariable calculus, and engineering all at one time, right?
How cathartic it was, then, to be placed in a community of peers, many of whom had experienced the same social plague I had. Race did not define us, but it was a part of us. At the same time, it felt, for the first time, that other men – like me – finally looked at me as a human being, and not an amalgamation of stereotypes.
It felt like home. It felt like brotherhood. When’s the last time you felt that way?
Now, Morehouse isn’t the only place that has such qualities – community empowerment, intellectual achievement, minority advocacy, and a history of transformation. However, such locales are critical for harnessing pipelines to success for those who rarely afford chances.
More importantly, such locales give a metric of accountability as individuals. It makes you ask questions about your existence:
- What have you done to achieve today?
- Have you taken the chance to emote with, and for your compatriots?
- Have you thought of, and acted, for your comrades’ interest, instead of your own?
- What is your legacy on your community?
I wish on you the burden and happiness of brotherhood.