Chucky

Chucky

Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 58
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3420-5.ch006

Abstract

Chucky is the product of an interracial union; his mother is Navajo while his father is Black and Mexican. Along with his three siblings, he was placed in the custody of his maternal aunt, Isabelle, because of a very tragic incident. At the age of five, he witnessed his father murder his mother. Despite all the turmoil, Chucky is remarkably well adjusted and level-headed. Unlike many of his peers, he has managed to stay out of any serious trouble. He has chosen to respond to heartache with humor, and he has developed a reputation as a prankster. With his gregarious personality, it is no surprise that Chucky is among the most popular students in his high school, which is no doubt buttressed by his standing as a start basketball player. Along with rap music, basketball is his chief coping mechanism for dealing with his adolescent angst. This chapter introduces Chucky.
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Profile

Like all children of mixed ancestry, Chucky has struggled in coming to terms with his racial identity. As a child, he would regularly come home crying because his classmates at the reservation grammar school teased him for being “Spanish.” Even his own Navajo cousins would jokingly call him names like “Tyrone Hernandez” to mock his Black and Mexican ancestry. His struggle has been greatly exacerbated by being caught in the middle of a heated custody battle between his paternal grandmother, who is Mexican, and his mother’s Navajo relatives. Although his maternal aunt was granted full custody, Chucky still has regular visitations with his paternal grandmother. For more than a decade, he shuttled back and forth between the reservation and his grandmother’s home in Gallup. In the process, Chucky has been literally pulled apart in two separate directions.

Nature of Relationship

Given his suspicion of adults and negative past experiences with interviews, Chucky’s participation in this study would not have been possible if not for the fact that I have known him since he was four years old. He has grown from a toddler to a young man before my eyes. As a youngster, he considered me his “best friend” and would follow me wherever I went. I would occasionally take him bowling or to the movies. We have also played countless games of one-on-one basketball, which I used to dominate until he hit a major growth spurt.

With his baggy pants and skull cap, people who do not know him usually think that he is a gangster. He certainly looks, talks, and acts the part, especially in the company of his friends, or “bros,” as he calls them. Standing over six feet tall, Chucky projects an intimidating presence. As hard as he appears on the outside, however, he is actually quite tender on the inside. In front of me, he dispenses with the “thug” attitude and is surprisingly thoughtful. In fact, during my visits, he always insists that I occupy his room—an incredibly generous gesture since his room serves as his private sanctuary. There are times when he flashes his boyish smile and, in that moment, he instantly transforms from a hard-core gangster to that little boy who used to follow me around like a puppy dog.

But it took awhile for Chucky to put his guard down around me. We were close when he was a young child, and then I resurfaced when he was in his teens. The gap in between represents a crucial stage of development. Initially, Chucky was understandably wary and cautious in my presence. Despite my repeated assurances of confidentiality, he feared that I would relay what he said to his mom. Rather than seeing me as somebody he could trust, he viewed me as an undercover spy. The breakthrough, as it were, happened by accident when I invited him to come along on a trip to Las Vegas that I had sponsored as a gift for his older brother’s (and my research assistant’s) 21st birthday. Spending four days together in Sin City turned out to be a true bonding experience. Afterwards, I became one of his “bros.”

I have spent far more time with Chucky than any of my other informants. Together with his brothers and male cousins, we have passed innumerable hours just “kicking back,” a lump category that includes activities such as cracking jokes, watching TV, listening to music, and playing video games. Although I rationalized this behavior as being an important component of my research, I have to admit that spending so much time in the company of those much younger than me was rejuvenating. It made me feel like a teenager again.

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Transcript

  • HAVE YOU EVER BEEN INTERVIEWED BEFORE?

Yeah.

  • FOR WHAT?

For, like, concerning my mom and my dad.

  • YOU MEAN THE COUNSELING?

Yeah. He asked me where I wanted to live and all that.

  • AND HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING INTERVIEWED?

It really didn’t bother me. I answered the questions truthfully.

  • ARE YOU USED TO SHARING YOUR FEELINGS WITH OTHER PEOPLE?

Yeah.

  • WHO DO YOU TALK TO?

Well, my dad, my sisters, my friends.

  • WHEN YOU SAY YOUR SISTERS, YOU MEAN...

Tashina and Thelma.1

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