‘What If’ letter
I am writing in response to the letter from January 22nd, 2012, titled “A Story of ‘What If’ is Reality to Some.”
I would like to applaud the author on the first three paragraphs of the letter, in which he brings to light the “why” that is behind a vicious cycle that has existed in our community for quite some time.
He describes some “what if” scenarios -- a fourteen-year-old Mother, an incarcerated Father, a teen parent who is forced to drop out of school so that she can financially and physically provide for her baby, a teenage father who has never known love or acceptance or responsibility in his own life and, therefore, joins a gang and an almost certain path to an early grave or felony conviction, leaving behind a Fatherless child.
These scenarios are very real in our community and they should be brought to light more often.
Unfortunately, however, the author's letter takes an unexpected wrong turn in the final paragraph -- one that all but destroys what might have been an inspiring, helpful plan of action for those of us looking for ways to make a difference in our community.
Instead of giving the reader a game plan, the author chooses to play the blame game. For, in his words, these broad and deep-rooted issues exist because of a small, select group of people. They are “School Board Members, City Council Members, County Supervisors, Juvenile Judges, and Mayors…” who are willing to “sit back and allow this to happen.”
The letter-writer could have listed ways to help. Instead, he gave us a “hit list” of elected and appointed officials(as if correcting these issues was as easy as walking into a voting booth). By placing the focus of his letter on who to blame, he exemplifies another broad and deep-rooted problem that often plagues communities -- finger-pointing instead of problem-solving.
The writer also claims that “black boys” are currently undergoing “Genocide”. With the vast majority of the cradle-to-prison pipeline being occupied by African-American males, it is hard to argue with this claim.
What is easy to argue with, however, is his notion that this is occurring because of the inactions of a hand-full of local officials who “sit back and allow this to happen.”
We are all God’s children. Therefore, are we not all responsible for one another’s struggles? And, if we are, shouldn’t we be talking about how to help instead of who to blame?
I urge the author to write about the real solutions that are available to combat these very real problems -- solutions that have very little to do with local political power and everything to do with the power of mentoring, volunteering, and simply showing up in our schools.
Regardless of title, race, income, or gender, these are solutions that are available to all of us.
Indeed, as the late, great Fannie Lou Hamer so beautifully stated, "Whether you have a PhD, a DD or No D, we're in this bag together. And whether you're from Morehouse or Nohouse, we're still in this bag together."
Keep speaking to us, Fannie Lou. One day, all of us will hear you.
Michael Van Veckhoven