Nationality: African American
Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: March 25, 2015
Primary Language: English
Informant H is 19 years old and was born in Inglewood CA, and moved to a place near Valencia just outside of LA soon after she was born. After 5 years, her little sister was born, then her little brother, and then her youngest sister. The family then moved to Bakersfield. H homeschooled for many years and then transitioned into a public high school.
So this is my dad’s side of the family, and he’s the youngest and he had 2 older brothers and then their oldest was a sister. And his mom is basically a single mom raising them up in this like really sketch neighborhood. There was this one time where my dad’s brother who was closest to him, his name was D, and he wanted a snake really badly, and my grandmother was like ‘No you’re not going to have a snake’ but he found one and he kept it and he hid it in his bedroom for like a super long time and everyone except my grandmother was in on the snake. So they would have like little codes like ‘You have to watch the snake because Mom is coming in the room’. And then this one time the snake got out and they were all freaking out and my grandmother didn’t understand why they were so stressed and they had to tell her eventually that the snake was loose. They eventually found it and she let him keep it if he had like a specific aquarium. She was like ‘You didn’t need to go through all this stress for this snake’. It’s funny because now he still gets like snakes and tarantulas and other sort of weird creatures. All the siblings banned together over this snake.
And we tell this story when we all talk about this uncle or like whatever new creature he has or whenever we went into their bedroom because all the boys shared a room. And we’d be like, ‘Oh remember when that snake got out?’ About every year during the summer my aunt who lives with my grandmother, the oldest sister, she makes this huge vat of gumbo and invites the whole family to come and chill in the backyard and eat gumbo. So then is where we revisit all the old stories. I always wanted to have the same sort of relationship with my siblings, because I have the same number of siblings as my dad did, and it makes me think about what funny stories we have like when we banded together against our parents or against other people and what special relationship we have together.
The informant tells with excitement and nostalgia about a legend in her family. This legend serves to bring the whole family together, especially she says over the summer, and they laugh about how the siblings kept a snake hidden from their mom. H’s family definitely emphasizes cohesion and support of each other. H also mentions how she would want to foster the same type of close and special relationship with her own siblings following in her dad’s example. Like her dad that grew up in a family that emphasizes support and closeness, H also believes that the family is important and wants to continue those kinds of close relationships.