Being a Big Sister in 2009
I am a 24 year old, African American female, with a 15 year old brother. We live in the richest black county in the country (in the suburbs), we have both parents in our lives, and we have been raised with a moral compass, pointing in the right direction. You would think this would cultivate the type of environment where one didn't have to worry about the issues facing inner city youth. But sadly, that is just not the case. No matter what has been instilled in us at home, during the teenage years the outside world is what influences our beliefs and decisions the most.
After all, we live in an age where fast cars, sex, drugs, and money dominate popular culture. Celebrity Kim Kardashian recieved her current level of fame solely from doing a sex tape. Shows like MTV'S "I Love Money" and VH1's "Flava of Love" promote promiscuity and greed at alarming rates. Rapper Lil Wayne is rumored to have both a singer and an actress pregnant. Groups like Three-Six-Mafia talk about "poppin pills" (referring to extasy and oxycotin) and smoking weed. While these artists and celebrities may choose not to be role models or icons, it does not take away the fact that for many, they are. Even their style of dress is emulated.
Of course celebrities and artists are not the only people to affect us. Our peers may play the greatest role in determining our actions- no matter how insignificant, stupid, or brilliant an idea may seem at the time.
So what is the role of a big sister? How does one combat all these things, while trying not to 1) seem like the "mama" or the "daddy," or 2) be a hypocrite? Truly, I do not know. But as a sister, I try to reinforce the things our parents taught us, by reaching out to him and teaching him the things I learned first hand. I try and tell him the mistakes I made. Like skipping Chemistry the second day of 10th grade without KNOWING what kind of teacher I had (mine ended up being EXTREMELY by the book- let's just say I ended up with detention for that offense). Or senior year when my two friends and I were, yet again, trying to escape school because the underclassmen were testing. We ran across the field while one of the Administrator's watched shaking his head the whole time (in this instance, at least all we got was a phone call home). Let's not even begin to talk about the relationship mistakes that have been made throughout the years!
But, it seems like no matter how much I talk, I'm talking to deaf ears. I guess at 15, that's to be expected. It kinda hurts to know that my brother is not paying attention, and is harming himself, but I assume that is what every parent feels watching their child grow up. I try and take some solace in the fact that it is his life, his journey. I do have to let him live it- otherwise he would not have his own lessons to pass on to his children.
So in the end, I figure all I can do is keep talking and keep sharing my expereinces- whether it seems like he is listening or not. If I do not, I'm not doing my job as a sister...and that job is just to love him, help him, and protect him as best I can.