The story of the black teen that was killed in Florida is one that really saddens me. I don’t know all the details but it seems to be developing into a case where this young person was killed because of the color of his skin. By the way, my sons look like Trayvon Martin.

As a positive parent I can think of no greater fear than that of losing one of my kids. Every day the news reports inform us about the deaths of many young people. I experienced that fear on November 25, 2006 when a young man was shot and killed on the day he was to be married by NYC policemen.  My oldest son was also getting married that same day. You cannot imagine the panic that filled my heart when I first heard this story. I frantically tried to call him but his cell phone just rang and rang, eventually going to his voice mail. I also tried calling his mom, to see if she had heard from him. While I was on the phone talking with her, he called. There was panic in is voice as well since it was late at night. He thought I was trying to get in contact with him because something had happened to me or his grandparents. I told him about the shooting of a young man at a bachelor party and I was fearful that it was him. He reassured me that he was alright and that he was in a different part of the city (his friends were also giving him a bachelor party).

Although my heart goes out to the Sean Bell family, I was greatly relieved that my son was alright.

In both of these cases the lack of respect for another person seems to have been the fuel that had caused these tragedies. As a Black American, I feel that this country has come a long way in the way it handles race relations. When these things happen, however, it reminds me that we still have a long way to go.

As a young man, I remember my dad telling me stories about what it was like to grow up in Louisiana in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Some of those stories would make my hair stand on end. In one of those, he told me that he and his friends were on a bus when a policeman boarded, yelled at one of the young men, then shot and killed him. That experience left a lasting imprint on his mind. It has left me with a feeling of gratitude in that the policeman could have decided that all of them needed to die. In those days there would have been no investigation into the shooting. The general feeling by the authorities would be that those were “NIGGERS” and they had no rights.

Yet, despite these experiences, my dad never taught me to hate “white people”.  He balanced his stories by telling about the good experiences as well as those bad ones. He has always made it a point to emphasize that there were many who do have compassion in their hearts.

Today with the emergence of CNN, smart phones and security cameras, it would make  it very difficult to hide the negative deeds of some.

In my role as a positive parent, I have tried my best to give my kids what my dad has given me.  He has taught me that negative behavior is not limited to any person or group of people.  In my opinion one shows a lack of respect, when he/she behaves badly. What it says is that “I will do what I want to do because I don’t care about you”.

Caring about one another has to be the driving force for all of us. When we care about those around us our only thoughts are about how we can motivate and help that person get to that next level.  When we care, we never think that hurting those around us is OK. In fact when we do acts of kindness not only do we show how much we care about others but we also show how much we care about ourselves.

“Everyone is some ones’ loved one” is something my dad says a few times a week. By keeping this saying in the forefront of our minds, perhaps it could keep us from performing any unkind act.  Better yet maybe it could help us to think positively about that person.

The reasons for the deaths of these two young Black Americans goes far beyond what those involved felt about their race. What it shows me is that they have little concern for anyone, not even themselves and even if these perpetrators had positive parents, they missed the lesson titled “Respect is Caring”.




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