In chapter ten of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya becomes closely acquainted with her biological mother, Vivian, as well as the Baxters, her maternal grandparents and uncles. She learns that they are powerful members of the African American section of St. Louis because of their "light skinned" appearance, wealth, and their reputation for being "mean."
The story of Pat Patterson is one such instance of this meanness. One night while Vivian (Bibbi) was out alone, Pat Patterson cursed her, which can be described in modern language as cursing at her, or cursing her out. She immediately reports this offense to her brothers who dispatch their "hangers on" to find Pat Patterson, and call them with his location.
Later, upon finding Pat Patterson drinking at a small table in a saloon, Maya's uncles hold him down, and invite Vivian (Bibbi) to beat him with a police club. According to the story, Bibbi crashes the man's head in so badly that he is barely alive when she finishes. Of course, due to the reputation of the Baxter family, there are no legal or social repercussions for Bibbi, or any of her brothers.