My Brother Moochie : Regaining Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South
by Bailey, Issac J.

In a wide-ranging yet intensely intimate view of crime and incarceration in the United States, a journalist, drawing on sociological research, tells the story of his relationship with his older brother who, after killing a man, served 32 years in prison and his experience living in a family suffering from the guilt and shame of being associated with criminals.

Issac J. Bailey was born in St. Stephen, South Carolina, and holds a degree in psychology from Davidson College in North Carolina. Having trained at the prestigious Poynter Institute for journalists in St. Petersburg, Florida, he has been a professional journalist for twenty years. He has taught applied ethics at Coastal Carolina University and, as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, has taught journalism at Harvard Summer School. Bailey has won numerous national, state, and local awards for his writings. He currently lives in Myrtle Beach with his wife and children.

*Starred Review* When Bailey (Proud. Black. Southern., 2008) was nine, his brother Moochie, who was as influential on his life as his father, was arrested on suspicion of murdering a white man in his small South Carolina town, launching his family's decades-long involvement with the criminal-justice system. Throughout his successful journalism career, Bailey has grappled with the nuanced racial experiences of the South, where he finds whites who'll pray with him but also espouse racial bigotry. In this deeply moving and powerfully written personal memoir, he opens up about his struggles with severe stuttering, which began after Moochie's sentencing, growing up dirt-poor in a home rife with abuse, excelling in school, and choosing a mostly white, elite college over a historically black college. His unflinching account of his brother's suffering is paired with reflections on community, race relations, and the impacts of poverty, crime, and shame. Bailey also recounts his meeting the sister of the murdered man. Thanks in large part to the strength of his mother, the family has had its share of successes, despite great adversity. Moochie and his tragic story have profoundly shaped Bailey's life and deeply sensitized him to the pressures and traumas facing people of color, and the consequences. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

A journalist comes to terms with the murder his beloved older brother committed, and a family tries to find some sort of redemption. Bailey refuses to make things easy for either his readers or himself; he avoids pat analysis of the scourge of racism and never settles for simple answers. He implicates himself from the start, confessing that he had felt like murdering his wife and that he was enraged beyond reason at his teenage son, fearing that he would mature into the stereotype of a black thug so feared by society. The author admits that he resisted dating one woman to whom he was otherwise attracted because she was too dark and that he went to a predominantly white college rather than a historically black one even as he resented the entitlement and privilege surrounding him. If racism is partly responsible for the fate of men like Moochie, it could have just as easily been him. Instead, he has been left with what has been diagnosed as PTSD from his brother's incarceration as well as a stutter that he has spent a lifetime trying to overcome. It is difficult to wrench these particulars into a conventional fable or morality tale, and the author doesn't try. Instead, he wrestles with confusion and the contradiction of "how to love a murderer without excusing the murder." Moochie had been a father figure to his younger brother, protecting their mother against the brutalities of the older man who had taken her as his child bride. He murdered a white man brutally and senselessly and has been sentenced to life in prison, where his attitudes on race have hardened. His brother became a journalist, writing about poverty and crime and racism for a predominantly white readership. At first, he wanted to deny Moochie's guilt and prove his innocence, but then he had to make some sort of peace with what Moochie did and try to rise above it. There's a catharsis for all by the end but no smooth path or easy arrival. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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