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28 Days of Black Movies: 5 quotes from ‘New Jack City’ that I use on my parenting journey

OPINION: The 1991 murder-crime-drug-family drama really is the gift that keeps on giving, especially in my life as a father.

I know, I know. The idea that New Jack City is a movie that has anything to do with solid parenting—I view myself as a solid parent—makes no sense. Hell, this is a movie where a child was picked up and used as a shield during a drive-by…at a wedding where Keith Sweat sang. So I get it. I hear you looking at me: How in the world do you use any quotes from this movie in your parenting journey?

I’m glad you asked. You see, Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes) and G-Money (Allen Payne) and the entire drug management system around them might be composed of terrible people, but that crew was a straight up quote machine. And it turns out a lot of the quotes work well on kids or in situations where kids are present. Don’t shoot the messenger (not a quote from the movie, beeeteedubs); I’m just here, so I don’t get fined. Plus, at its heart, New Jack City is a heartfelt story about family and the choices you have to make to ensure the family legacy. Just kidding, these fools were all insane and whew, if this were my family, I’d change my name and move to El Segundo; I found a wallet there once.

Anywho, I’d like to share with you all some of my favorite quotes I use with my kids in case you need a way to entertain yourself with pop culture while talking to your kids as the sounds of Cocomelon or Paw Patrol blares in the background. Let’s start off easy.

1. “RockaBYE BAAAABY!”

Emphasis is all mine. This was the catchphrase of Keisha (Vanessa E. Williams), one of the henchwomen for Nino Brown. When Nino told her to go, she’d often hit you with the “RockaBYE baby.” Every villain needs theme music and a catchphrase; one out two ain’t bad. Well, this is easily the one I use the most. When I put my 1-year-old to sleep at night, I often tell him this is just the way she said it, not because he gets joy out of it but because I do. Don’t fret; no violence happens when I say it. 

2. “Sit yo’ five dolla ass down before I make change!”

Nino said this to G-Money, who had just been called out for making a major mistake, which eventually leads to the next quote. 

So, I don’t ever actually say this out loud—my wife would have a fit— but I THINK it very loudly every single time my kids get up from the table before they’re supposed to or, I don’t know, they just do things I don’t want them to do when I don’t want them to do them. I stare at them and point with an imaginary sword and say something like, “Hey, sit down, buddy!” but in my mind, it’s New Jack City, baby.

3. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 

This is probably one of the most famous quotes in Black cinematic history. I have literally zero science to back that up, but it feels right. Anywho, G-Money says this to Nino Brown RIGHT before Nino kills him. By this point in the movie, everything has fallen apart for CMB, and Nino is trying to clean house. 

I have three little boys, so on occasion, when one of them is acting like a donkey towards the other, I say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” to them, usually leading to confused looks and questions about “What does that mean, daddy?” Even when I explain, it never quite lands; my kids are 6, 5 and 1. But it will one day. For now, it’s fun to say over and over. Hopefully, one of the kids will say it back to me one day, and I will have won the Pop Cultural Parental Wars: The African American Edition.

4. “We all we got!!!”

I like to say this randomly when my kids are mad at each other. It doesn’t mean anything to them yet, but it will one day. G-Money said this to Nino right before Nino smoked him. G-Money was NOT very convincing with his words, as it turns out. 

5. “I’m not guilty. YOU’RE the one that’s guilty!”

Nino said this on the stand. I use this against my kids when they blame me for things I clearly did but have no plan on copping up to. Let’s say I dropped some food on the floor, and my kids say to mommy or whoever that I did it. Yeah, this quote gets deeeeeeeployed. 

Panama Jackson is a columnist at theGrio. He writes very Black things and drinks very brown liquors, and is pretty fly for a light guy. His biggest accomplishment to date coincides with his Blackest accomplishment to date in that he received a phone call from Oprah Winfrey after she read one of his pieces (biggest) but he didn’t answer the phone because the caller ID said “Unknown” (Blackest).

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