Ferguson: Communities must be engaged to prevent more tragedies and crises

08/22/2014 12:00 AM

08/21/2014 6:02 PM

The value, or what appears to be the lack of value, of young black male lives has come to the national forefront once again, this time tragically in Ferguson, Mo. Another family and community are forever torn. Many competing theories have surfaced as to what actually transpired between Michael Brown and Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. One thing however cannot be disputed: Another young black man who had promise and potential to be a contributing member of society is gone too soon.

Ferguson, with a population more than 60 percent black, has a police force with only four black officers. Any entity, be it private or public, that desires to provide services effectively and successfully must ensure that its personnel make-up has a resemblance to the communities it aims to serve, to form a connection with the community. A lack of connection more than likely will lead to division and distrust, as in Ferguson.

Peaceful protest against these types of tragedies are positive, but when a few choose to use such events to promote looting and destruction of property, the necessary message is severely diluted; such actions must stop. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us that “Violence begets violence, and evil begets evil,” referencing the concept described in Matthew 26:52, where Jesus said, “All they that take the sword will perish with the sword.”

We cannot continue to say enough is enough, be actively engaged for the moment and then let it die. The result will be the loss of more young black men. We must express our desires through productive means. Blacks must take part in the democratic process and vote, and not just for the president. We can’t be in an uproar when things do not go the way we desire if we only come out and make our voices heard in the face of injustice.

The people we put in office, from the local school boards to city and county to offices of national importance, must care about the needs of our communities and be vested in the communities they serve. We have to work in our communities to change the narrative and proclaim that “The devil is a lair,” that our black boys are destined for greatness and have the same potential, promise and inalienable rights afforded everyone else in America. The village must come together and make sure that all of our boys know this. They have to hear it from the black community first: “Young black man, you are somebody.”

Eric Ferguson

Columbia

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