THE BLOG
07/17/2014 06:12 pm ET Updated Sep 16, 2014

Fatherless Black Boys: Do You Really Care or Nah?

2014-07-17-blackfathers.jpg

I'm going to start this piece by saying I don't condone or tolerate violence of any kind. I think it is inhumane for people to commit crimes, especially violent crimes -- crimes against children, the elderly, or people who put their lives on the line to make sure we are all safe.

For starters here is a little background on where I'm going with this. A rookie police officer, Melvin Santiago, was shot and killed in Jersey City, New Jersey last weekend. Jersey City is a quick train ride from where I live in Manhattan. Santiago, 23, was killed while responding to a report of an armed robbery at a store. He was shot, at close range, moments after he got to the scene. The African American man who killed Santiago was apparently looking for trouble and moments before the shooting told a witness "watch the news, I'll be famous." The gunman was killed by another officer at the scene.

As you can imagine, Santiago's death has been covered heavily by local stations and part of the coverage has centered on the killer. Now, there's even word local gangs could be seeking revenge against officers for killing the gunman. It's safe to say that tensions are high in Jersey City right now.

Let me get to the crux of this article, a local news reporter, Sean Bergin. Until now, he had worked for News 12 New Jersey. He's since left the station because of something he said during a report he filed about the officer's murder. Bergin filed a story that included an interview with the gunman's wife. I will admit, she said some inflammatory things about the shooting and showed little sympathy for the officer's family. After his story aired, Bergin appeared on camera and said "It's important to note that we were, besieged and flooded, with phone calls as to why we would give media coverage to the life of a cop killer." Bergin went on to say that he and his station wanted to shine light on a cop and gang problem that has plagued America's inner cities. What he said next stood out like a sore thumb to me. He said, "The underlining cause for all of this, of course, is young black men growing up without fathers. Unfortunately no one in the news media has the courage to touch that subject."

So here's this, consider me a person brave enough to speak and touch on, not only the surface, but also the rim of what Sean Bergin thinks he is so qualified to talk about. I'm so sick and extremely exhausted by non-black people in this country who feel they have the authority to speak on the black experience. As I stated earlier, the man responsible for killing that police officer was wrong, but Sean Bergin was also wrong, because he used a moment to inject his own opinion. Who is he to say that the underlining problem is fatherless black boys or black men who grew up without fathers? Where did he get this? Was there a credible source that provided him with the information to throw in his own editorial language? I am a black man who grew up without a father, but I am a successful man living in this country. Not every fatherless black boy ends up running with the local street gang, committing crimes, and living up to no good. I want people to stop using that generalization. It's not fair and it's ignorant.

However, I am aware of the statistics that show people in two-parent households are more likely to succeed. I also need Sean Bergin to understand that there are plenty of other races where both parents aren't in the home and I don't hear anyone saying anything about that. When James Holmes walked into a crowded Denver area theater and opened fire on innocent moviegoers, did we talk about his broken family? No, we didn't, we spoke about how he was mentally ill. The same goes for Elliot Rogers, Adam Lanza, and the list goes on and on. Again, I'm not for a second excusing anything that was done. The man in New Jersey shot and killed a police officer and, yes, other officers acted in a manner in which they needed to protect themselves.

It is important for us all to note that generalizations -- or in some cases, blatant prejudice and racism -- do nothing to help the cause. Particularly, you, Sean Bergin. I'm not aware of your history or upbringing but if I were to go out on a limb here I would say you could possibly come from privilege and upper class. I understand your overly conservative views; you make them known with nearly ever tweet on your Twitter profile. How about not getting on television and proclaiming to care about young, black, fatherless boys? That doesn't get you or them anywhere. It leaves me wondering how you dare speak of things you know nothing about and it leaves you looking quite foolish. Mr. Bergin, you had another opportunity during your appearance on The Kelly File with Megyn Kelly to take a stand and say you will get involved in helping to fix "this problem" you appear to be so passionate about. However, in true fashion you used the opportunity to say you knew what you were doing would cause consequences. So how about trying this instead, bring some great ideas to the table and if you are so brave, mentor one of those fatherless black boys; they very well could use your guidance; your true, non-judgmental guidance. Focus more on that and stop with the finger-pointing and cheap shots at blame. Be that force of change in a young boy's life, whether it is black, white, Asian, Hispanic, or other.

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