Our cultural mentor was sick with the flu this week and agreed to speak over the phone. I text him before our phone conversation and asked if we could talk about his childhood and family. He was a little hesitant but agreed, I assured him that we would stop at any point he felt uncomfortable. I prepared questions that would gain more information on our mentor’s family structure, community and how he feels being the oldest of eight children. I requested more time for the interview process but due to his illness he requested that we speak a few times during the weekend to complete our conversations.
Description: Percy describes his family as upper middle class, mother Brenda was a registered nurse and father Fred is a retired contractor business owner. His father built there family home which he still lives in today. His mother Brenda died at the hands of a drunk driver when he was sixteen. Her death was a life changing event, which made him feel responsible as the oldest of eight for his siblings. He was born on a grand parent’s farm in Wasco CA, but the family moved to town after an incident where Percy fell in the creek and family dog Brownie barked until his mother came out of the house and realized he was missing and pulled him to safety from the creek. Soon after that scare his father Fred built their family home in Bakersfield and the family started growing, his parents wanted to have at least eight children. There are four girls and four boys including Percy, who feels he has spent his life being a parent figure to them all. Presently there are two boys and four girls. The community they grew up in had many family members close by, four households of family members lived on the same street. Percy felt that his childhood was great and the extended family kept them all busy. In total there were over thirty people on that street related either maternal and or paternal, it was like a party every Sunday’s when they shared family dinner. Being known as one of the Smith children always made him proud and they learned through their parents that community and their neighborhood was important. His father still lives in the same place and Percy places value on that community and is involved with rental property in the Bakersfield area. Percy said, “most of his true friends still live and or connected to the same community and that what real community is about”. When he was a child playing outside with his sibling was the highlight of his life. Children in his family had no cares are worries but to just be happy. Percy’s belief in Christ was built on his mother’s teaching and her example of the love that she gave freely to all her children.
Growing up around his extended family made life simply and full of love. Within their family you had many moms and dads because all the grownup played a role in raising all the children in the family. Many of his spanking for disobeying were given by his maternal grandmother Ms. Lizzy who was the baby sister, cook and any other roles that needed to be handled while his parents were at work. Most of the businesses in the community were owned by residents and that made a big impression on Percy and that’s why being a business owner is important to him. Many of his cultural tradition keeps him connected today to the community he grew up in.
Education was a normal part of his life, his parent were continual learners and expected them to be also. Percy was raised in a house where God and education was the focus. They have many professional in their family, his youngest brother is a doctor, two middle sisters are nurses, oldest sister is an educator and the baby sister is a lawyer. Percy himself, graduated from Bakersfield High School and went on to