My Brother Moochie

Regaining Dignity in the Midst of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South

Publication Date: May 29, 2018

304 pp


List Price US $13.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-861-8


List Price US $25.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-860-1

A rare first-person account that combines a journalist’s skilled, objective reporting and insightful writing with the raw emotion of a younger brother’s heart-felt testimony of what his own family went through for decades after his eldest brother killed a man, pleaded guilty, and received a sentence of life in prison

At nine years old, Issac J. Bailey saw his hero, his oldest brother, taken away in handcuffs, not to return from prison until thirty-two years later. Here Bailey tells the story of their relationship and of his experience living in a family suffering from the guilt and shame of being associated with criminals. Drawing on sociological research as well as his expertise as a journalist, he seeks to answer the crucial question of why Moochie and many other young black men–including half of the ten boys in his own family–end up in the criminal justice system. What role did poverty, race, and faith play? What effect did their environment, living in the South along the Bible Belt, have? And why is their experience understood as in line witha narrative trope for black men, while white criminals are never seen in this generalized way? 

My Brother Moochie provides a wide-ranging yet intensely intimate view of crime and incarceration in the United States, and the devastating effects they have on those who commit crimes, their loved ones, their victims, and society as a whole. It also offers hope for families caught in the incarceration trap: though the Bailey family’s lows have included prison and bearing the responsibility for multiple deaths, their highs have included Harvard University, the White House, and a renewed sense of pride and understanding that presents a path forward.

Excerpt from My Brother Moochie

Somehow they made their way out of the bedroom into the kitchen. I can’t remember if Mama was running and daddy was chasing or if she had simply walked to where the greenish gas stove stood and he followed a few seconds or minutes later. There is no aroma of sausage and eggs and grits wafting through the air in my memory. It looks like the dark of morning, though everyone is fully dressed. The house is serene, eerily quiet.

Then it unfolded as it often did.

I can remember seeing him hit her, hearing fist bouncing off flesh, maybe the most god-awful sound the ears of a 6-year-old can imagine, especially when it is his father beating his mother.

Daddy was screaming and Mama was hollering and I was cowering in a corner. It felt as though time stood still. Moochie’s sudden arrival shook me from my stupor. He was running into the kitchen, grabbing daddy around the torso, yelling at daddy, telling daddy to stop, pulling on daddy as daddy kept trying to get back to beating Mama, stopping daddy’s arms from flailing towards Mama and whisking him down the hall and out of view, maybe out of the house. By that point in my life, Moochie had become the man in the family, at least to me. He was physically able to handle daddy. He was the football player. Moochie was taller and stronger and more muscular and needed every ounce of his strength to get that skinny man away from Mama.

Before Moochie ran into the kitchen, it felt as though the beating would last forever, that my feet would grow roots in the floor as I stared from the corner. But it was over in a flash, because of Moochie. It wasn’t the first time my oldest brother saved my mother from my father, nor was it the last time she needed saving from him, or me from that corner.