Author: Issac J. Bailey

Publisher: Other Press

Issac J. Bailey, author of My Brother Moochie, was a journalist for more than twenty years and studied journalism at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. (insert, 2018) He grew up in St. Steven, South Carolina and now resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina with his wife and family. Bailey has a psychology degree from Davidson College and has taught various courses at the collegiate level (Ethics for Coastal Carolina University and journalism at summer session for Harvard where he is a Neiman Fellow) and has won many awards for his writing. He is a regular columnist for the Marshall Project,, and CNN and an interim member of the Charlotte Observer editorial board and Davidson College Batten Professor.

This book opens with a father and son having a disagreement over something the son did. The father only wants his son to grow up to be someone, not a common thug which is believes if too oft the case in his society. They are black and the father talks about wanting a daughter v. a son because he had an innate fear of black boys he says. To which he adds, “The image of them was everything I didn’t want to be.” (2018, p,2) He then contemplates the possibility of whether or not their tendency toward violence is nature or nurture.

This book is an accounting of a liquor store murder and the events and lives that were forever changed because of that tragedy. Moochie is the younger brother of the author, Issac J. Bailey, and the main character of this book.

Bailey oft makes reference to the distinction between black and white. When speaking about simply letting children grow up as children he says that “…at risk black boys who find stability and love in gangs they couldn’t find elsewhere, for whatever reason, are just following a natural pattern seen in all groups of young people who feel alienated and left behind.” (2018, p7) The unwritten words are that there is less of this dilemma in white society.

Each shooting perpetuated by a black individual he says comes down to this singular thought. “We are the black sheep of the black sheep. We are the source of black embarrassment, the poker that stirs the embers of black shame. We are the seed of truth supplying sustenance to the stereotype.” (2018, p.7)

If that is truly the case, what can be done to stifle this progression? Is it education’s shortfall or is it parenting or lack thereof? There may be many underlying reasons for this plight, but one thing for sure is that things must change and that black families must be the ones who initiate this change. Without black families pushing the water forward the water simply sloshes back. We continue to see the same situations play over and over again.

I’m not going to give this entire book away. But let me tell you this, reading this book is like living this tale along with the author and his family. It is real and it is without makeup. It is an open wound without dressing. It is also a lesson in shaping a dialogue about race relations.