Read this article in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette | Published December 2014
If America is going to reach her destination of racial healing, reconciliation, and unity, then young black lives have to matter and must be accounted for. The lives of every single American citizen are integral to our nation becoming the more perfect union that is our divine destiny.
America has not reneged on her promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for young black men just because some disagree with the decisions of grand juries in Missouri and New York. America’s pledge of equal opportunity and access has not been compromised because racial demagogues want to blame the “system” for poor choices being made by young men.
Every single one of us knows that there are scores of community initiatives, statewide programs, and national mandates which prove our broader commitment to dealing with the complexities that manifest in the actions of young black men everywhere. And although our work in this regard is incomplete, there are people all across this nation dedicating themselves in small and large ways to resolve the dilemmas affecting young black males.
We know that many of our systems, methods, and processes are not perfect, especially our law enforcement and judicial systems, which is why we need every citizen to get serious about their civic and social responsibilities. We cannot expect to cause real and substantive changes to things like community policing if we fail to get informed and become engaged.
In America, we know for sure that the lives of our young people have to be a priority because they are our leaders in waiting. We value them because they will be responsible for managing our organizations, governing at every level, and developing the kinds of innovations that will secure our nation’s prosperity and prominence, domestically and globally.
Wrestling with the range of competing reactions to the Missouri and New York grand jury decisions has to be done in a spirit of humility and openness. It is possible that providentially the two verdicts may have happened as a way to force America to complete its unfinished business concerning race. We’ve tried to place band-aids over past racial scars, but like all wounds which don’t completely heal, they have to be dealt with eventually.
This is where we are as a nation – there is work to be done. This is our national opportunity to confront the hard and entrenched elements of what deeply divides us. The chorus that we’re hearing from so many corners of our country – “Black Lives Don’t Matter” – reminds you of a spoiled child who whines and points fingers when things don’t go her or his way.
All young black men deserve parents, mentors, guardians, and advocates who will teach, guide, and nurture them, so that they will develop into mature and responsible adults. They deserve leaders who will teach them how to make wise choices and good decisions in order to develop the character and integrity they will need to be successful in life.
These young males deserve role models who will show them what a strong work ethic looks like and how to become informed and engaged about the systems and processes that impact their lives. What they don’t deserve are grownups who willingly use them as proxies and pawns as they try to settle old grievances and pursue adult agendas.
It’s time for us to stop blaming other people and calling them racist because things don’t turn out the way we had hoped. We are all fallible human beings. It is imperative that we choose to work side by side to correct our flawed policies and systems. Despite our racial distinctions and differences, we share a common bond that is uniquely American and we must rally around what unites us.
America is still on a journey – one that has been marked by periods of extreme darkness and hatred. Even though our beloved country has a past that is absolutely shameful as it pertains to racial matters, we can be thankful that our present reflects a makeover and an ongoing transformation of the heart and soul of our nation. We’re not there yet, but we have certainly emerged from our darkest days and our racist past.
America’s dilemma is a spiritual one, not a social or economic quandary. We are wrestling with the realities of fear, insecurity, despair, and hopelessness which people are feeling every day. We will never agree about everything because we are a conglomerate of all kinds of personalities and philosophies.
As a nation, it’s time for us to grow up, be mature, and start communicating with each other as adults are supposed to, so that we can move closer to racial healing, reconciliation, and unity. We must all exercise faith, patience, and commitment – personally and corporately – if we ever expect to get to our national destination.