My Brother

My Brother, My Brother


I was accused yesterday of being a traitor to my race. On the way down the stairs to the subway, I reached into my wallet and yanked out two of the three dollars in there to buy a ride to work. Hovering near the token booth was a youngish brother, I’d say in his mid twenties. He saw me with the money out of my wallet and asked if I was going to buy a token. I said I was going to buy a token from the guy in the token booth. “Oh, you’d rather help the white man out.” I turned to him as I placed my token in the slot, giving him one of my “I don’t believe you said that” looks.

“That’s right,” this brother tells me. I suppose if I had gone to the video store to rent a video rather than buy one of the bootlegs on the street, that would be the same thing. Go with the brother, right or wrong seems to be the philosophy. I didn’t argue with him, I knew if it was a white guy I would’ve had the same response. I wondered how long it would be before somebody bought his token.

I thought about what this brother must’ve been through for that $1.50 to mean so much to him. Was I keeping him down? Was I now partners with the white man? I didn’t think so, and got on the train minutes later.

William Stephenson

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