Nationality: African American
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/1/16
Primary Language: English
The Main Piece
It is customary in Nile’s family to take her cousins in during the summer to help teach them certain life lessons and values that their aunts or uncles feel they are incapable of doing. While taking cousins in and teaching them about life may seem odd to some, Nile finds this completely normal and a part of her life. Cousins would be sent to the Jones household for various reasons. These reasons include losing weight, divorce, adjusting to urban lifestyle, wanting more interaction with other teenagers or children, and learning to be away from home. This was not only for Nile’s cousin’s benefit, but also Nile’s and her family’s benefit. They were able to interact with people who were not in their direct family and learned to deal with social situations which they normally would not. The summer-stay was usually for only one cousin at a time and the child would usually be between the age of ten to sixteen years old. This was an important factor to consider because they wanted to send them in when they were “sort of independent, where they didn’t need to call mommy every night.” The child would be accepted into the family and treated like a normal member. They would do chores, play with the other children, thus molding them and giving them proper social skills and proper habits.
My informant is Nile Jones, a current undergraduate and close friend of mine at USC. She recalls having her cousins over for as long as she can remember. When she asked her mother, her mother stated that they had been doing this since her great, great grandmother was alive. Nile enjoys this tradition because she can see her own personal benefits and those of her cousins. She also feels it is a good way for her to interact with her cousins. The first time her mother told her that her cousins were coming to stay she was confused as to what was going on, but with her mother’s explanation she soon began to understand the meaning behind the tradition.
Nile told me this story as we were sitting together discussing her life at home. I found so many elements of her life differed from mine, I had so many questions to ask. It was casual conversation as we were simply chatting like normal friends. Hearing stories about my friend’s different lives has expanded my mind as I learn about their different lifestyles.
I thought that it was an interesting way for Nile to keep in touch with her cousins. I barely ever talk to my cousins even though they live next door to me. It has encouraged me to reach out and take a more proactive role in their lives. I enjoyed hearing the way that Nile’s family was having a positive influence on their family members, trying to help them out as much as possible.