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  • Story and photos by Rae’L Jackson

Journalist Isaac Bailey shares his story with CCU

At 9 years old, Isaac Bailey’s life took a horrific turn.

Bailey watched as his hero, his older brother, was carried away in handcuffs. On Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, The Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora studies brought Bailey to Coastal Carolina University to speak on the link between crime and social acceptance within the black community.

Bailey grew up in the small town of St. Stephen, S.C., and at the tender age of 9, watched as his brother was convicted for murdering a white man.

“When they sent my brother, Moochie, to prison, we were treated like the black sheep of the black sheep,” Bailey said. “My family didn’t get a hug, we got handcuffs.”

During Bailey’s presentation, he challenged the audience to recall a single incident in which they had forgiven a black person for any crimes they committed.

“Amber Guyger is a white woman who murdered a black man. . . . after her sentencing the victim's brother forgave her for killing his brother. What would happen if the roles were reversed?” said Bailey.

The lecture was based upon Bailey’s book, “My Brother Moochie: Regaining Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South.” Bailey tells the story of living in a family who suffered from misplaced guilt and shame.

Terrance Smalls, a sophomore engineering science major, attended Bailey’s lecture.

“Hearing tonight’s lecture left me in tears, mainly because I’m experiencing this now with my father while he is in prison,” Smalls said.

Smalls is Bailey’s first cousin. After the lecture, both Smalls and Bailey’s family hugged tightly. Tears, laughter, and stories were shared among the family members who bravely fought, side by side, through the hardships of which Bailey spoke with the CCU community.

“This lecture was important to me, so I decided to educate my students on it by making them attend,” said John Roper, a history professor at CCU.

Roper wishes to educate his students of the recent events of the American South in order to raise awareness for the persisting racial inequality.

Bailey kept his challenges from defining who he is and kept his past from painting his future. He is now a journalist, author, husband, and father.

For those who dealt with similar situations, Bailey encourages them to find treatment.

“I was diagnosed with PTSD 34 years . . . after my brother’s conviction,” said Bailey. “I was scared to speak out because I was ashamed and hurt.”

Bailey received the necessary care to turn his tragedy into an empowering story. To purchase his book, “My Brother Moochie: Regaining Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South”, visit the Chanticleer bookstore or search online.

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