November 9, 2019
One of the first things that comes to mind when MC life is discussed is the proclamation of brotherhood, stated with a whole lot of bravado. But what is brotherhood? We understand the concept, or think we do, but do we really understand what it’s all about?
Dictionary.com defines brotherhood as such …
the condition or quality of being a brother or brothers.
the quality of being brotherly; fellowship.
a fraternal or trade organization.
all those engaged in a particular trade or profession or sharing a common interest or quality.
the belief that all people should act with warmth and equality toward one another, regardless of differences in nationality, creed, ethnicity, etc.
In the biker life, brotherhood is all of the above, and more, defined by our personal experiences. It’s a camaraderie shared on a daily basis. We ride together, eat together, live and make decisions together. Hell we even fuck together. On an everyday and now, level, this is what is understood, but how many understand where this all came from, and why?
I’m not going to delve deeply into the founding fathers of MC life but I will say in passing Yonkers MC is the oldest recorded; founded in 1903. Yeah, Yonkers, New York. The other three came from the west coast out of California. (yeah, THAT California) San Francisco MC / 1904, Oakland MC & Pasadena MC , both in 1907. – Moving on … It seems the ravages of war was the perpetrator of MC’s. The young men who went off to WW1 & 2, and managed to survive, came back changed. For many, they didn’t fit in, couldn’t acclimate back to their old lives. Some became Hobo’s, those rootless travelers who hopped train cars and traveled the country. Others took to crime or tried hard to resume their previous lives, taking the edge off by drinking. And many found a release with the motorcycle and gathering with like kind.
PTSD wasn’t a recognized thing back then, but those who shared its maladies understood. A special acceptance was developed, creating a bond few truly could fathom. Their military training and indoctrination gave focus to club development, rank and duties. A chain of command. And out of that came protocol; but we’ll cover that in a different segment. And so, with this blending stemming from need a working compromise was born and a new kind of life style was given breath.
Many of the original MC bikers fathered the second generation, their sons shipped off to Viet Nam and coming back as bad as or even worse than their fathers had. IMO (in my opinion) these were who were hit worse. War time strategies had changed, much like our Revolutionary War it was a guerrilla tactic. Aside from the divisiveness of the political we were greeted with a more damaged soul returned to us. Drugs had become a necessary balm just to get thru deployment, and that taste, for many, became a need.
MC life doesn’t come cheap, club dues, rides and their maintenance’s, family and households, businesses during low economic times, it all costs. And here is where things began to change. The MC’s as well. The oldest and largest clubs established themselves, fathers & sons, uncles & nephews, families with in the family riding together. The bond became stronger, unbreakable. And so it existed.
And while this was passing the ethnic street gangs were growing too. Their brotherhood came with a different kind of survival, a different bent. Excluded from the established MC’s for racist reasons, ethnic MC’s established themselves. The Mongols being the most recognized back in late 1969. They were more inclusive lending to a stronger brotherhood. Within a loose decade surrounding their establishment the ethnic MC’s took their place among the ranks of brotherhood.
Many complain MC brotherhood isn’t the same anymore and I would have to agree with them. While loudly lauded, the back up is weak. The bones that laid the foundation isn’t there like it used to be. Military service is optional now, discipline and integrity gone weak. Sad to say, I don’t see much honor anymore. And yet, brotherhood lives on and flourishes within the independent riders. The groups are smaller, together for whatever interests.
Brotherhood is a sense of oneness, a bond that can’t be breached. United we stand, strength in numbers, call it what you will. It is a commonality that spans many aspects. It is a bond few experience and only those understand.