When I decided to blog about brotherhood, I immediately thought of my Girard College brothers. I didn’t think about my relatives. I actually have three blood brothers. When I was about 12 years old, I found out I had two brothers on my fathers’ side. Previous to that day, I only knew my one brother from my mother. One of them, Russell is like my twin, we share the same taste in women, and wear similar style clothes, it’s crazy. I wasn’t close with him growing up, I never knew him but I realized how similar we were the more we talked and hung out. I love him, I love all my brothers equally but again, when I hear the word brotherhood I don’t think of them immediately.
Let me explain, around the same time or a little after I was introduced to my father’s side of the family, my mother enrolled me in Girard College. Girard or GC is not a fraternity or club, it’s a parochial boarding school for “orphaned” boys or “broken families”. The school takes in children from 1st to 12th grade. My father was deceased so that classified me in the ‘broken family’ category. I enrolled in GC about 1982, it was an all male school then.
I’ve laughed and cried with these guys. The bond to our class is nothing like anything else in my life. As kids we grew to be very protective of each other. We had our own little niches with nerdy, cool, jocks, artsy types but they were OUR brothers and nobody breach that bond. Yes we had some odd types, but they were our odd types and if you mess with one of us you had to deal with all of us. That was and still is the way we are, protective of each other and unified. It’s like a frat but it’s deeper, I know their mothers, secrets, flaws, and without question or hesitation, would come in a minute if anyone of them called.
I’m so happy for the success of my brothers. I’m happy with the women they chose to be their wives. Yes, we now have a few sisters(wives) that have become family…Alicia, Jennaye, Jen, Jenn S., Lori, Khaleen, and Christina. Another “sister” of ours, Jill Scott gave us a shout out on her first album. Check it out if you don’t believe me.
When I attended Girard College, I didn’t know that this brotherhood would transcend into my adult life. On Fridays, I drive to Rockville and hang with one of my brothers Derrick and his lady Nile. We play Uno with her sisters Elan and Reigna and their husbands, Adrian and Troy and it’s like family. I had no idea that at 13 years old I would have these same friends into my 40’s.
Looking back I can remember instances where my brothers would just show up for me. I had a cookout in Annandale, Va, and these brothers drove from NY and Philly to attend. I drove to Philly to run a 5K to support Doug and his wife, Jennaye. He called me a week before and he told me why, I was already checking my calendar because I knew I was going, and I’ll be there next year. It’s just not even a thought. Looking back over the decades I witnessed my happiest times with all these brothers.
These brothers of mine are trend setters, we don’t follow anyone. You won’t find the typical stereotypes among our ranks. Paul is running a successful restaurant and bar, National Mechanics. Gavin, previously a district attorney, living large in NY. Joe B. became a psychologist, Adrian living in Amsterdam working for Nike, Devon and Lydell are both doctors, who previously owned their own practice. Casey a successful barber, promoter and husband. Chuck is doing his thing as a personal trainer, Tracey is the ONLY rapper that earned a law degree, how sick is that?! Joe became an attorney and President of the Girard College alumni association.
When Mike posted his picture of his classroom on his Facebook page I was so proud of him. Andre is publishing his 4th book, how crazy is that? Just to see it from the beginning, from 1982 until now, witnessing the evolution of men, pushing each other and sharing all of our success. All my brothers from the class of 1988. Are you kidding me?! In our class alone there are 3 lawyers, a psychologist, 2 doctors, a published writer, an engineer, all from one class. Twenty or thirty brothers and not one of us in jail, what are the odds of that?! What positive stereotype can you find in this group of men?
There are other brothers that are not in my class that may not have even gone to Girard but still cut from that same cloth that I hold dear, Bernard, Joe R., Tony S., Estes, Terry, Kenny, Mark and especially Paul B. I can’t name them all but make no mistake, we are brothers.
I couldn’t have a better blessing of influence. I never knew and you will never know how your life will evolve and what brothers will remain in your life. The key thing is that YOU may be that man who people depend on, seek advice from, or just be there when you need them.
Our society places value on what’s unimportant, brotherhood is important. Whether it’s fraternal or a group, find yourself some positive brothers that are better than you. It will help you grow and mature. It helps you understand your core self. It helps you align with people who are moving upwards. All these guys are better than me in some way, and I use their abilities to get better. The people who challenge and push you are not always the people who want to see you fail. At times, I can hear these dudes in my head guiding me; Terry, Doug, Devon and Derrick, that extra conscious when I’m making decisions.
These are the people who see your potential and know you better than you know yourself. These brothers will be the ones that you think of when “brotherhood” comes to mind.We have a competitive spirit that continually makes us all cohesively better. I credit Girard for that. Girard staff and instructors prepared us all for life. Nothing was sugar-coated and it galvanized our class. It bonded us for the rest of our lives.
Just because you don’t know you father or he’s not a good influence doesn’t indicate that’s how you’ll be as a father. Of these men who are fathers, are great fathers…something most of us didn’t have. As I said, we share a common desire to give our children something we didn’t have a GREAT father. I’ll share my thoughts on my next blog, Fatherhood: 3 of 3.
Proverbs 27:17 “So as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpen another.”