Brother John

Brother John. © Chris Bronsk 2015.

“The first time I heard the expression ‘baby’ used by one cat to address another was up at Warwick in 1951. Gus Jackson used it. The term had a hip ring to it, a real colored ring. The first time I heard it, I knew right away I had to start using it. It was like saying, ‘Man, look at me. I’ve got masculinity to spare.’ It was saying at the same time to the world, ‘I’m one of the hippest cats, one of the most uninhibited cats on the scene. I can say ‘baby’ to another cat, and he can say ‘baby’ to me, and we can say it with strength in our voices.’ If you could say it, this meant that you really had to be sure of yourself, sure of your masculinity.” —Claude Brown, Manchild in the Promised Land

(from an ongoing series of Boston transit riders)

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