When I heard Mike Brown’s mother on the news, I empathized with her pain. However, I was surprised to hear her response. In the midst of the grief, she had the clarity to state the real issue. She shared how she encouraged her son to finish high school and to think about his future. She also shared how black males and blacks in general are concerned about the lack of opportunities in their city. When you are black, you question-even when you are qualified-if you will be given the OPPORTUNITY. Sports and entertainment are the only industries where there is a real presence of Blacks (African Americans). In the St. Louis Metro area, we don’t hear of African Americans as being CEOs of companies. I don’t know Mike Brown or his family personally. I only know about them from the news details- the ones that are consistent. So I suspect that they are true. His parents are divorced. Usually children of divorce feel abandoned. In response to Brown’s death, we must begin the painful dialogue about abandonment and how it has an infinite impact on people lives.
Abandonment is the root cause of issues in the Black (African-American) community. A person or a people can only continue for so long with a lack of hope. Recently a friend of mine shared her story about her son. His story is similar to Mike Brown’s. His mother struggled to encourage him to finish high school. She tried to get him to get him to think about his future. She is still encouraging him to think about his future. He was recently incarcerated. These are the parallels between his and Mike Brown’s story. Where their stories differ is that my friend’s son was not in Ferguson to encounter Officer Darren Wilson-who would have shot first and got answers later- when he committed his offense. Thank Goodness.
News reports state that Darren Wilson has also dealt with abandonment. Had Officer Wilson struck up a conversation with Mike Brown, he might have found out they had more in common than different. Wilson had to feel abandoned by his family. His mother was married and divorced several times before she died while Wilson was in high school. More recently, he separated from his wife.
Now, my friend’s son has some additional obstacles to overcome but he can still have a future. She asked me to write him and to encourage him. I thought to myself, I don’t know what to say. Then I pondered about that thing Mike Brown, my friend son, other black young men like my cousin (who was incarcerated), and other black people like myself had in common. I thought we have all dealt with abandonment and struggled to remain hopeful.
My friend’s son lost his dad. He died when he was young. My parents are divorced and my cousin parents were never married. We have all dealt with abandonment. I can say for sure in Mike Brown’s case but in the other cases there was lack of parental involved from our fathers. When that happens children become desperate and seek acceptance. I know my cousin became involved in gangs seeking acceptance. I heard my friend say she felt her son was hanging out with the wrong crowd. I became a people pleaser seeking acceptance.
Like Mike Brown and others I have struggled as it seemed like the door of opportunity was not wide open. It is a battle to stay positive. The door seems closed because nationally the unemployment rate for African -Americans is 13.1% twice the amount of unemployment for whites. According the NAACP criminal fact sheet “One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime”. Only four African Americans have ever been elected to US Senate in all american history.
To educate means to bring out of ignorance but the educational standards are not consistent. Even though we have the “ NO Child Left Behind Act” It seems children in predominantly African American school districts are left behind. Business have divested in the communities and as result school districts have less money.
The outburst of anger from protesters, looters and rioters is from feeling abandoned. American can’t continue to treat Blacks(African-Americans) as rejected people. Blacks are suffering from the same ills that started the American revolution. Taxation with representation. The people who are charged with representing them are not taking the responsibility seriously. Blacks have made valuable contributions to this country and the world. If given the opportunity they will continue make contributions.