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Interview with Carlton Brewer

Brewer, Carlton
Jaaber, Taha
Date of Interview: 
Housing project; black-on-black crime; youth violence; family life; leisure time and youth.
A resident of Earle Village, teenager Carlton Brewer offers a glimpse into his daily life. He discusses school, family relationships, sports and leisure time, girlfriends, and home life. He also alludes to a daily life tinged with violence as he recounts his experience of being robbed after school and his thoughts of retaliation.
Levine Museum of the New South, Local History Series
TJ (Taha Jaaber): My name is Taha Jaaber, interviewing--.
CB (Carlton Brewer): Carlton Brewer.
TJ: And the date is July 17th, two-fifteen. What's your name?
CB: Carlton.
TJ: What's your last name?
CB: Brewer.
TJ: Oh. When were you born?
CB: March 24, 1977.
TJ: Where at?
CB: Charlotte Memorial Hospital.
TJ: And where were you living?
CB: What you mean where do I live?
TJ: When you was first born.
CB: Oh, Charlotte, North Carolina.
TJ: Where at, what part of Charlotte?
CB: I can't remember.
TJ: Well, what part you live in now?
CB: Earle Village.
TJ: Oh. How is it over there?
CB: It's dangerous. Not, not--. It's not as dangerous as it used to be. It's pretty peaceful over there.
TJ: Oh.
CB: White people live over there now.
TJ: What's your parents' names?
CB: Pansy Brewer, and my father name is Ernest Flowers.
TJ: You stay with both of them?
CB: No.
TJ: Which one you stay with?
CB: My ma.
TJ: Oh. What's her occupation?
CB: She's a m--, a medical clerk at Presbyterian Hospital.
TJ: Oh. Describe your house and surroundings.
CB: So you walk in, and then the first room you walk in, when you walk in the front door is the living room, and then if you keep on straight, you get, the kitchen is on the right. And then you keep on, keep on walking to the left is the, where you, wash room, where the washing machine go in. You're supposed to wash your clothes back there. And then if you come back from the way you went in, you make a right, and then you go upstairs, and then you, when you get to the top of the stairs, my sister room is right there facing, as soon as you get to the top of the chairs, stairs I meant. Then you, if you make a right, my room is right there and then my, my mom's room is right, right in between me and my sister room.
TJ: You mention your sister. How many brothers and sisters do you have?
CB: I have one sister and two brothers.
TJ: Oh. Do y'all get along?
CB: My little brother don't, me and my little brother don't. My little sister do, my other brother. I don't hardly see him, because he lives in Philadelphia.
TJ: Oh, so you--?
CB: Me and him got the same dad, yeah.
TJ: You the oldest?
CB: Nah, he the oldest.
TJ: Oh. So who cook most of the time, while your mother's at work?
CB: Nobody, really. I mean, you, you cook something because you want to eat it. I mean, I don't know. [Laughter] You don't cook no big meal, you just cook for yourself when she at work.
TJ: So, do you have any duties you do around the house?
CB: Yeah. Play Nintendo, cleaning my room every once in a while, and take out the trash every once in a while, and that's all. Oh, watch my little sister and brother sometimes.
TJ: Oh. Do you drive?
CB: No.
TJ: Oh. Do you get visits by your relatives?
CB: Yeah, like my aunt who live in Oklahoma, she, she come down, and then my, my uncle who lives in Washington, they be coming down. And then I have cousins, a lot of relatives in Philadelphia, and I got a lot of relatives in Charlotte, too, so I got a really big family, you know. They be coming. We all get together every once in a while, you know. Although when bad stuff happen, like if somebody die, everybody come together, but they won't come together for, like, you know, regular stuff. They'll come all, you know, they'll come together, but you know, it won't be no big thing.
TJ: So how do you spend your leisure time around the house?
CB: The time that I don't have to do nothing, I'll be gone, I mean, I won't be at home. And the time that, when I have nowhere to go and I'll be at home, and I have some leisure time, I might just watch TV or just go upstairs and turn on the DJ set and just mix something up, something like that.
TJ: Oh, so you get allowance for cleaning up?
CB: Not that I know of. My mom, she just give me money when I ask for it.
TJ: Oh, so what do Saturday and Sunday mean to you?
CB: Saturday and Sunday? Saturday means fun, and Sunday mean more fun.
TJ: What's your favorite holiday?
CB: [Pause] I know my favorite holiday. It's Easter. No. It used to be Easter. It's, what's the name of the holiday? Oh, July the Fourth.
TJ: Why is the Fourth of July your favorite holiday?
CB: Because when all the girls come out, you know, everybody get new clothes, they be fronting and maxing, chilling in the car they spend all day waxing, you know.
TJ: So when Hurricane Hugo came around, what was you doing?
CB: Well, my friends and them try to get me to go to the pawn shop and steal some guns, because the power was out, and you know, I didn't want to get in no trouble. So I stayed home and took out my ax and tried to cut down this tree down that had, that had fell. I was trying to cut it. And then, I was just chilling in the village like McDillon.
TJ: Do you play any sports?
CB: Yeah. For, for McClintock I play football, track, basketball, and I'm also president of Red Cross.
TJ: Oh, so what school do you go to again?
CB: McClintock Junior High, home of the fighting Scots.
TJ: Do you have any favorite teachers over there?
CB: Yeah, my basketball, football, and track coach, and Mr. Austin. There's my buddy.
TJ: How do you get to school?
CB: Sometime I might walk. Nah, I ain't never walked. I thought about it a few times. My friend used to take me, and sometimes I catch the school bus. Most of the time he'll take me, though.
TJ: So tell me, do you go shopping a lot?
TJ: So do you have any plans on going to college?
CB: Yeah. I did want to go to Carolina for four years, and then the study of telecommunicating. But then it got a little (crucial for me), so I'm just go major in business.
TJ: You want to open your own business someday?
CB: Yeah, someday.
TJ: So tell me, do you got, do you have a girlfriend?
CB: I might have one, or three or four or five.
TJ: Oh.
CB: I'll just leave it at one.
TJ: So you only have one girlfriend?
CB: Yeah, I mean, only one main girl, you know, one who I always come home to.
TJ: Oh. So tell me more about y'all relationship, like how y'all met.
CB: We had met at (detox). We had met at, how'd we meet? I can't remember how we meet. But I can tell you how, how I met this other girl. I met her at Skate Palace. I was trying to make my other girlfriend jealous. And then we were--. And I ain't even know her, so I started dancing with her. And then we started hugging, and then I had gave her my number. And then she called me, and then the next day we started going together.
TJ: Oh. So tell me, have you ever been a victim to black-on-black crime?
CB: Yeah. I got robbed once.
TJ: Can you tell me more about that?
CB: Yeah, see I, I was getting off the school bus, right, and this, then this boy I knew, well I ain't really know him, he just came up to me, right. I ge--, I guess he told the other boy that he was going to get my coat, right. And so I walking, and then he said, he said, "Yo, man. I like that coat." He said, he said, "Will you come, come up here?" I want, I want my uncle to see this because I want one just like it. And I said, "Nah." I say, "I'm (fixing) to go home. And so he put a gun to my head told me to come. He told me to come, he told me to come, and so I came. And then he, he took--, he stuck the gun on my head and told me to take the coat off. So I took it off. After he took it off, he ran, and I ran home. And I, I was looking for my gun, right. And I couldn't find a clip, so I mad, so I just stood there. And then my mama, she was talking about, call the police, call the police. And you know, I, I was all mad and stuff, and so they called the police. And then the police went around looking for him, right. And then, after the police start looking for him, I went outside and started looking for him. And then, I had left to go to basketball practice. I was still mad. I just went to basketball practice. I get some of that off my mind. And then when I came--. By the time I got home, my mama said he had brought the coat back saying he thought I was somebody else and all this other mess. And anything else you want to know?
TJ: So you think if you would have caught him, you think you would have killed him?
CB: Yep. You'd have been reading about him in the newspaper.