Part Two – Summaries of Chapters 14 - 30
Brian tells us he recently got a hold of the court proceedings and found out that the judge did not believe his or his mother’s testimony. The judge ruled that Mr. Wentworth had not entered the apartment, and he said the emotional distress Carolyn suffered was only because of her marriage to Sylvester, not anything Mr. Wentworth did. Brian’s mom received no money from her lawsuit.
However, things didn’t turn out entirely against the family; they did not have to move. On that Friday night, the family is once again playing rummy and discussing double negatives as they were in the opening chapter. Only in this chapter, we find that Tracie grows up to be a successful model, businesswoman, wife and mother, that Sylvester never came back to the family, and that Grandma, in her 80s now, is still caring for her many great grand children.
We also learn that many things changed in San Leandro – the community began to accept more black families, and the apartment building was sold to people who hired much better managers than the Wentworth’s ever were. Brian has people in his life now who made a significant difference for him -- Scout masters and teachers like his 8th grade teacher Marilou Ramirez who put him on stage for the first time, his long time friend Jon Regan, and his Catholic school teacher, Lisa Carrion and her father who (without Brian even knowing) paid his tuition to high school after Brian’s mother died. From family friends like Charlene Raimondi and Paul Cromwell to coaches like Tommy Thomas who gave Brian his first start in show business, Brian is finally blessed with a support system that enables him to stay and thrive in San Leandro.
Brian tells us that, according to the 2000 census, San Leandro is now one of the most diverse cities in California. Even though old prejudicial attitudes still persist, Brian is staying and living in San Leandro for three major reasons. The first is his mother – he was determined to stay and continue the fight she began. The second is because of all the friends and benefactors he met in San Leandro, and the third, and most important reason of all, is that there is still work to be done. Brian gives us several examples of recent bigotry and racism, but also shows us how things are better now. In 2004, the Mayor of San Leandro, Sheila Young, gives a City Commendation to Brian’s Grandma and his mother (posthumously) for their bravery in fighting to make the city a “more diverse, more inclusive community.” And even though Grandma and Brian’s other sisters moved to the Sacramento area where houses are less costly, the mayor proclaimed that Brian’s Grandma is “forever an Honorary resident of the city of San Leandro.”
Brian soon quits his morning show to focus on comedy and writing, but his marriage has suffered too much damage to survive, and he and his children’s mother divorce. After much settling, Brian meets and married a wonderful woman, Susie, and begins his “new” career – telling the truth about his own life with a one man show he calls, “Not A Genuine Black Man” which opens at the Marsh Theatre in San Francisco in 2004 and runs for two years, instead of only the 6 weeks it was originally scheduled to run. Since then, Brian has performed all over the country, including a stint in New York City, and has met and influenced people from all walks of life who identify with him and have learned from him what it means to “keep it real.” Brian now knows why he didn’t die in that Miata in his garage – he knows he was saved to tell everyone who is the victim of prejudice that they are okay – “they are normal.” As he says, “We must all live our lives in the way that makes use of the most comfortable and the happiest.” However,Brian now realizes that he has one last piece of unfinished business to take care of.
This chapter opens with Brian spending his evenings staking out an old store front, remembering all the times he would pretend that he would use quotes from the old TV show Maverick, pretending that his father was the author of the witty and clever comments. The kids would laugh and Brian would always be happy that they never stayed up late enough to see the program he quoted from. Then one evening a man is almost hit by a car, and Brian can complete the unfinished business he needs to take care of – his father, Sylvester.Twenty-five years before, after Carolyn had died and when Brian was almost 16, he and Sylvester rekindled a shaky relationship. Promising to buy Brian a used car for his birthday, Sylvester doesn’t show up and once again dashes his son’s hopes and dreams. This time when Brian approaches his father who is now looking very old and suffering from colon cancer, Sylvester does not recognize his son. Brian can’t bring himself to ask the questions which are nagging at him – “why were you so mean? Why didn’t you show up on my birthday?? Why??” Brian simply asks the old man what time it is. Sylvester, responds, “Quarter to seven” and continues to jay walk across the street to the shelter. Alone in his Miata, Brian can finally laugh! “It took forty-one years but he finally gave me something. The time of day.” And as Brian hugs his now 16 year old son Adam, he realizes that it was Sylvester who had missed out on all those years – not himself.
Afterward – Adult Brian
Afterward Page 241
Brian tells us how much better things are now in San Leandro, giving us examples of seeing black and white children and their mothers in friendly play and conversation, of his own daughter never being called a “nigger” until she is in the 8th grade, of realtors valuing the diversity of the community. But most important, he tells us of how he, himself, has changed. He now knows that he IS indeed a genuine black man – because he is resilient. Brian describes for us the many instances of resilience he has needed in order to survive. And, like his friend Mr. Wilkins once told him, he has the right and the ability to determine his identity, regardless of what other blacks orwhites say. He is a man. Brian is a black man.
In the end Brian is grateful for that anonymous letter accusing him of not being a genuine black man, because it led him on this exploration to find his identity – an identity he now knows is true – it is his experience. It is genuine, and San Leandro is his home town.
Key Literary Elements – Page 3
Chapter Summaries – Part One – Page 10
Part One Assessment – Page 18
Chapter Summaries – Part Two - Page 28
Part Two Assessment – Page 38
Answer Keys for Part 1 & Part 2 Objective Chapter Quizzes - Page 50
Study Questions/ Suggestions for Essays /Activities & Projects – Page 51
Activities & Projects – Page 53
General Literary Topics for Essay writing, Exams, & Discussion
Sample Essay Assignments and general requirements – Page 70
Share your Assignment, Activity, or Project
May be posted on Brian’s web site (www.briancopeland.com).