DARRELL HUCKABY: Michael Brown case brings broader issues into focus

One group insists that a promising, defenseless young man, who was simply walking down the road, minding his on business, was brutally gunned down by a rogue police officer for no apparent reason.

One group insists that a thief and a thug went out looking for trouble and found it and got exactly what he deserved.

The truth, as the truth always is when the populace is divided into such extreme groups, is somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately for our nation we have come to the point that for a lot of people — for far too many people — the version of the truth that they choose to believe is based not on a compilation of the facts, but on only one factor. That factor is race, which is so emotional an issue that we cannot even have a conversation about it in this country.

Michael Brown. We have all heard the name. We have all seen the footage. We all have our own opinions about whether he was or was not a thief, whether he did or did not deserve to die, whether he was or was not a victim of police brutality and racial profiling. You do, and so do I.

But I’m not interested in opinions today. I am interested in the underlying problem that is threatening to tear our country apart. The issue is the fact that we are in danger of losing an entire generation of young black men in our nation and the so-called leaders — the activists that jump in front of the cameras whenever an opportunity presents itself — seem to show no interest in addressing the lack of training in human responsibility that led Michael Brown to be walking down the street and getting into a confrontation with a police officer in the first place.

Let’s please put aside the color issue for a moment and just look at Michael Brown, not as a black person, but just as a person. The thing that really put his life in jeopardy is that Michael Brown lacked the upbringing that every child deserves. Children with proper upbringing, regardless of race, creed or color, don’t walk into stores and brazenly take something that doesn’t belong to them. They don’t strong-arm the store clerk who tries to defend his property and prevent the theft.

Don’t hear something I am not saying. I’m not saying that theft is a shooting offense and I realize that the policemen that shot Brown did not know, at the time, that he had, allegedly, committed one. Theft is an indication of a lack of respect and upbringing, however.

Many will call me old-fashioned and disagree with me on this, too, but kids with proper upbringing aren’t walking down the middle of the road high on pot, either. And children need to be taught from an early age the proper way to respond to authority. I don’t want to hear about all the encounters that folks of color are subjected to that white folks aren’t — not right now. There is a right way and a wrong way to respond to teachers, policemen and other adults who are attempting to correct unacceptable behavior and forget every other factor about this case. If Michael Brown had been brought up to respect the law he would be alive today.

Some witnesses testified that Brown was shot with his hands in the air, obeying the police officer who was attempting to arrest him. Others have testified that he was charged the officer when the fatal shots were fired. Young people should be taught not to charge at police officers.

The sad thing about this sad case is that publicity-seekers have come in and distracted the nation with their rioting and looting and demagoguery and we have, once again, lost the opportunity, as a nation, to have a conversation about race and education and family and responsible parenting.

Yes, there are misguided white kids out there. I know lots of them. I have taught lots of them. But black males are 50 percent less likely to graduate from high school as their white counterparts, are at least 50 percent less likely to be raised in a two-parent home, and are at least 50 percent more likely to live in poverty and/or wind up in prison or dead at the hands of another black male.

I am not opposed to black leaders addressing the issues in Ferguson, Mo., but when the cameras are put away and the furor over Michael Brown dies down, I wish they would address the needs of all those other kids — so they will not become Michael Browns, too.