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Interview with Brian Keith Jackson

Jackson, Brian Keith
Sepulveda, Charlene
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Cultural identification
Brian Jackson talks about crime in Charlotte and in the world.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Charlene Sepulveda interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
CS (Charlene Sepulveda): So, uh, you got a land grant up in Cherokee, and that was because that you, um, you can prove your Cherokee blood.
BJ (Brian Keith Jackson): Heritage, yeah. My grandfather was full-blooded. [Pause] All Cherokee. He was about as dark as a Snickers bar. Good old boy. Sixty years old when he passed, and didn't have a gray hair on his head. But, uh, I didn't want the land because I wasn't going to live there, and I felt like they should give it to somebody that would live there. You know, why did I have a piece of land I ain't going to use it? And what're we going to do, go up there and grow some corn? Nah. [Pause] It wasn't me. I just, I got to live in the city. That's where I was raised at, that's where I got to be. That's just how I feel.
CS: [Long pause] Yeah. So, tell me about how the neighborhood has.
BJ: Oh, where my mama and daddy brought me, where I was raised at, now, I'm going to tell you, now that neighborhood there is, is, is gone from nice and quiet, where you could just walk around in the middle of the night, yeah, I mean you could walk out, you didn't even lock your doors. When I left this town to move away from here, because I finally got tired of it, we didn't even lock the doors at home, and when I came back, I had to have an alarm put, put on my mother's home. Because I was, uh, scared that she's going to get broke in to, something bad would happen to her, and I wouldn't be able to live myself, knowing I could have kept it from happening and not doing it. But, uh, this neighborhood the worst crimes we ever seen when I growed up was somebody would steal your car radio, somebody would bust out a window on your car, or your headlight, tail light, you know, just stupid crimes. Now you got people shooting each other, uh, robbing people, doped and robbing the damn people wanting dope. People wanting dope robbing the dope man for the dope. It's just gone all to hell. Point blank. It's through. If I had a choice, before I'd move back into this neighborhood, where my mama lives, I'd go live in a damn cardboard box under a bridge.
CS: Hmm. That bad, huh?
BJ: It's that damn bad. And it hadn't even been a week and there's three Mexican guys that live in the apartments over there got shot. I don't know who shot them, if it was more Mexicans shot Mexicans, or, or what happened. I know three people got shot, and it ain't even two hundred yards from my mama's back door. There can't no good come from that. [Laugh] It's sad, but it's the truth. It was on the news. Flipped me out. I was sitting at the damn trailer, where I live at now, [cough] watching the news, and I seen this shit and I said, "Oh, Lord." I had to drive three and a half miles to the phone, but I went and called Ma. "Ma, you hear about--." "Why, I heard the gun shots. I heard them." Scared me. I told her, "Sell your house. Get the hell out of there. They coming to you next." I said, "You going to be one of the only white people on the block in ten more years, and your property value's going to go from the sixty-five thousand mark where it's at now, down to about fifteen thousand. [Laugh] And then, you ain't even going to, you, you won't even be able to sell the dirt for the worth of the dirt. For the weight of the dirt." [Laugh] It's going to be all to hell. Hell, [laugh] it's there now in my eyes. I mean, I don't mind coming over here and visiting, but it's about an hour visit, then I'm out of here. I got to go. It just depresses me to even see her living here. It is amazing, like I mean if you look over in the, there's other neighborhoods here in town, like if you look over at uh, what is that, over off of Sugar Creek, um, what is that neighborhood over there? [Pause] Uh, damn. Do you know what I'm talking about, right near Sugar Creek, uh, between Sugar Creek and 85 and Tryon. What's the name of that neighborhood over there?
CS: I don't know.
BJ: Hidden Valley.
CS: Yeah. Uh-huh.
BJ: Oh, I can remember when that was all white people. And they didn't have no crime. I mean, I'm not dissing, you know, I've got no problem with the black people or nothing like that. Because, I mean, hell, about 50 percent of the people I hang out with are black people. You know, but they ain't out there killing people. You know? They ain't out there robbing people. They's some people out there who do their work. You know? None of the people I want to hang out with don't want to work. Once you figure out what they're doing, and that's it. I've got no use for him. Hell, I won't even spend 33 cent to put a bullet in his ass. [Laugh] I haven't got time for it, you know? I mean, like, if I come down the street and I seen somebody, you know, getting the hell beat out of them, you think I'm going to stop and help him? I'm a go, "Heyyyyy. Kick him for me. Hit him one time for me, hell yeah." I got nothing else to say for him. You know, whatever he did to you make you want to kick him, kick him twice. You know, that's his problem, it's not mine. Until he comes to me, I don't care. But, uh, Hidden Valley, I mean, that was a killer neighborhood over there, I remember, I mean, all those homes over there, they're still really nice homes. I mean, hey. Them houses over there are selling for more than the damn houses over here are, and they're still do you know, they're in the goddamned hood. I mean, they's mother-fuckers staying, you can buy a house in Hidden Valley, and some son of a bitch will be out there slinging rock cocaine in front of your house. Under the streetlight, where you can see the whole deal go down. And you call the police. And the police will ride by, and buy him some damn dope, then ride off. [Pause] It's a lovely world out there. [Laugh]
CS: Go figure.
BJ: Hell, life goes on, it's '98. [Laugh] They say the world going to end in 2000. If it is, if that's what the Bible quoted, it would be a problem. It probably would be a godsend. If the whole world just [mock explosions] in 2000. Two more years of living hell. That's the way I see it. Hey, you asked ( ). [Laugh] It's a crock of dookey. As far as raising a child, [pause] nowadays? Oh, hell no. I wouldn't even want a kid. The best thing, well, I'm not going to, my personal opinion, let's be politically correct about this now, my personal opinion on raising a child in '98, abortion. [Laugh] Save him the trouble, because you don't want to breed a child straight to hell. Because, sometimes I feel like, you're not living, you're already dead, and this is your punishment [laugh] from the life you lived before. You're in hell, there is no other worse. This is it. The only thing you do is hope to die, and come back in heaven, because this has got to be hell. 'Cause, uh, I've had the ups, hundred thousand dollars a year, down to five thousand dollars a year, and uh, shit happens. [Laugh] There is no better explanation than that. Shit happens. Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear get you. Life goes on. Sometimes it's a good thing and sometimes it's a bad thing. Sometimes can't no good come from none of it, but that's how it works.
CS: Well, why do you think that the neighborhood has changed so much here, in this part of Charlotte?
BJ: In this part of Charlotte the reason that the neighborhood has changed so much is because of, the way the shit was run by, I mean, political shit, I don't even care about political shit. You know, that's somebody else's ball of wax altogether. I couldn't care who's running nothing, because I ain't voting for none of them. [Laugh] That's their damn problem. I don't care. As long as, until they start getting in my damn pocket, I don't give a damn what they do. They start messing with me, in my house, on my, wherever I live, I'm happy with them. They start fucking with me, oh, I'm a buck the system. You know, whatever it takes for me to let them know that I'm not giving a damn, I'll let them know. I don't care what you do, that's your problem. Oh, so you say the budget's overdue? Tough shit. Get a job. [Laugh] Go to work like the rest of us stiffs. Go out there and sweat for ten hours a damn day, five days a week, and try to support your damn family instead of getting a check from the government. Grow up. [Pause] [Laugh] You know? I mean goddamn. I'm, I'm old. Getting old. I'm not going to get real old, I hope. [Laugh] 'Cause, if the last 10 years, let's say, if the next 10 years is anything like the last five years, I don't want to see that last year, of those 10. That last tenth year, I don't even want to know about, 'cause if the last five doubles into 10, and goes just like these five did, I don't even want to be here. [Pause] Please let me spend my own 33 cent. [Laugh]
CS: Would, would you just as soon leave North Carolina?
BJ: I'd just as soon leave this country sometimes. I mean, I don't know, I mean, I got, I got to say now, I never had any strong feelings toward people. Like when they had that Iran thing, a 100 and something damn people stuck in Iran being held hostage? Stupid. Stupid motherfuckers. You think you an American citizen, you've got all these rights and all this shit going for you. And you left. What the fuck was you thinking? Grow up. If you like the rules, and the way this society is run in America, stay your ass in America. Carry your ass on that plane to another country, you ain't in America no more. You wherever the hell you're at. When in Rome, do as the Romans, be treated as a Roman, not as an American, just 'cause this is where you from. You left, you fucked up. Your problem. Get a life. You know? And we spent all that damn money, trying to get their ass back. You know? Fuck them. If they was stupid enough to leave, they knew the consequences, they knew there was a damn thing going on with them boys over yonder. Yet they were dumb enough to go right up in the midst of that shit. That's like going from here to Vietnam during the Vietnam War in '71. What a damn idiot. He going over there as a tourist. What the fuck are you thinking? Oh, they're not going to shoot me, I'm a tourist. [Mocks gunfire] Give me the camera. You stupid son of a gun. Grow up. [Laugh] I mean think about it. If you going to live life like you would in America, you want all these rules and all these privileges and all this stuff, I mean, we got everything here. I mean, hell, we've got everything from cars, license, uh, we got booze, we got bars, we got strippers, we got drugs. I mean, goddamn. If there's anything in this country anything in the world you want, you can get it in America. You can get it here. But if you want to get killed, go to another country. [Laugh] Become a hostage. [Laugh] And it's on. Call me from Iran, talk about, "Hey man, Saddam Hussein has got me as a hostage." "What?" [Laugh] "What the hell are you doing over there? What the fuck was you thinking when you got on the plane? Was you thinking that everything was going to be, did you think we was going to come over there and spend fifteen million dollars to get your stupid ass back 'cause you left? We don't want you. Your tax money wasn't but ten thousand dollars a year. The hell with you. We got no use for you. You couldn't even feed 10 kids. Bye. Have a nice death. 'Cause your life just ended when you left here. Over with."
CS: [Laugh] Where would you live if you left North Carolina? Where would you go?
BJ: Ahh. Midwest.
CS: Kansas?
BJ: Yeah. Flatland. I'd rather fight tornadoes than all this damn crime. I mean, you know what the crime is in Kansas? "Somebody stoled my corn." [Laugh] I mean, damn. [Laugh] I think I could sleep through that. You know, I think I could wake up the next day and not be pissed off. Somebody stole my fucking corn. Yeah? Shit. There ain't no dead bodies in my lawn. I don't hear no damn, "Boom-chicka-chicka-cha-boom-chicka-chicka-cha-boom," [mock gunfire] out my back door every night. No helicopters flying around with spotlights looking for the thief who robbed the fucking 7-11 down the road, because there ain't a 7-11 down the road. You've got to get that shit before dark. Because they roll the streets up. [Laugh] Sidewalks and all. It's done. Dark? End-of-the-day. Daylight? Store's open. Roll her back out. [Laugh]
CS: Simple. [Laugh]
BJ: Crime rate there is probably like, "Well your kid spit a spitball at mine at school today. We going to fight." "Well, Jim Bob Billy, let's just do that." I can get with that. "Put on a damn country station. [Mock singing] "I got a tear in my beer, and I think we can fight."
CS: Kansas, huh?
BJ: Somewhere out there where there ain't nothing going on. Dead Zone. Nothing. I mean, when you look up in the sky, you don't see a bunch of fucking airplanes, skylights from the cities and shit. I mean, I love the city and now don't get me wrong. I love the city. I'd have to go to town every week. I could live out there, but I'd have to go to town just to see somebody get killed. See a dead body laying on the sidewalk, and say, "Hell yeah. Back to the city life." And then I go back to my place. "Oh hell yeah, this is a lot better. Last thing I seen dead was a chicken. He probably got hit by a car trying to cross the street." [Pause] You know? And the worst thing that happens out there in the boondocks is crop circles. It's the college. They're out there in a damn line, holding hands, walking in a circle, and they think it's the damn UFO. The damn UFO comes down, 'cuz going to let you know it. It's going to come down hit you with a laser [Mock lasers]. They got the technology to fly from one dimension, or one solar system or whatever, you know. Hell, they're going to get you if they want you. You know, they might just be checking us out, and that's fine. I don't give a damn. They ain't bothering me. When they come over there and bug me, you know, hey. We're going to have to fight. "Jim Bob Billy. Give me back, back that beer. We're going to fight." You know? Like that damn show Hank Hill, "They might blow a arm off, just to scare me, but as long as I can still hold my beer, I guess I'll be alright." [Laugh] [Cough]
CS: What do you think about X-Files?
BJ: Oh, that's, puh, I don't know, I've never really paid that much attention to it. That show. I don't watch TV. I watch the morning news, I watch a couple of comedy shows, you know? I guess the upbringing that I had were blood, guts and violence. You know? If it ain't have one of those three things in it, I've got no damn use for it. If I'm not laughing, or freaking out because of somebody the way they got killed, it don't interest me. Either somebody's got to be getting blowed up, beaten the hell out of, or you know, something, something funnier than hell, you know. Somebody's got to be slipping and falling in front of a crowd or something, you know something so stupid that it was funny, or getting blasted. Otherwise it just has very little meaning. As far as, you know, when I, if, if I was going to go see a movie, do you think I'd go see Steel Magnolias? Not. [Laugh] I'm going to go see Rambo. All of them get their ass blowed up. [Laugh] I was born and raised in the city. I want to see some shit. I don't want to sit through no movie about [makes sounds of crying] I'm talking about, "Hell yeah, kill him. Kill him. Kill that son-of-a-bitch. [Laugh] Kill him once for me too, Jim, while you're here. Kick him while he's down. Don't reach down there to hit him. Kick him, your feet's closer." [Laugh]