Regardless of one’s position on the political spectrum, we can all agree that this was a horrible tragedy and needless discarding of a precious life. How could it have been avoided? Two obvious answers: The officer could have ignored his duty and backed off when it became apparent that his instructions would not be followed, thereby avoiding a confrontation, or Brown could have complied with the officer’s instructions, as required by his civic duties.
If police officers generally adopted the first solution, chaos would reign supreme in our streets. If the populace generally adopted the second solution, there would be even fewer incidents of police violence. Last year, 100 black males were killed by police in the United States. In the same year, 5,000 blacks were killed by other blacks, the vast majority being males. Could it be that we are erroneously being manipulated into making this incident a racial issue when, in fact, it is a component of a much larger social issue?
Why are there so many young black men in the streets of America with defiant attitudes that frequently lead to incarceration or death? Could it be that a large number of them grow up without a father figure to teach them how to relate to authority and the meaning of personal responsibility? This is not to say that mothers cannot convey these important social lessons, as mine did. But in too many cases, these young unwed mothers have never themselves been exposed to personal responsibility and self-esteem, and the vicious cycle continues. As a society, we must concentrate on ways to break this tragic cycle that has produced a higher poverty rate in black communities across America, with the increasing frustrations that underscore potentially explosive, tinderbox situations, as we have seen in Ferguson.