WASHINGTON, June 15, 2015 – Since Ferguson, I have been thinking about how I view those in my community, both black and white. I have found that I feel differently about different groups of people, and it is not based on race.
I have heard several talking heads on both TV and radio determine that no respect is given to black youth and that “white privilege” has been the reason. I usually hear this from a white liberal, usually rich and usually not from the area where I live.
To these people, “white privilege” may mean something, but I had to fight hard for anything I have. I did not benefit from any sort of privilege or from having anything handed to me.
One thing I have always had is respect for myself. I have found that the individual is responsible for how he is seen by others. The way you dress, act, speak and show respect for others determines how you are viewed.
I have watched individuals in the military who were of exemplary virtue and class move up through the ranks, get out of the service and continue their climb. I have also seen those who never progressed at all. This lack of progress stemmed from lack of effort and lack of virtue, not because of race.
Many people are also dragged down by the individuals they associate with and those they see as role models. Nothing depresses me more than watching someone with potential and the drive to succeed failing, thanks to the influence of those around him. In the military, you rely on the man next to you, you trust him. That is difficult to do when you limit yourself to what the lowest common denominator thinks of you.
There were riots after the police shootings in Ferguson, Baltimore and elsewhere. After Ferguson, Jesse Jackson declared that because of a long history of abuses, the people just had to explode. So they exploded, burned down the stores belonging to those who live in the community or businesses that provided jobs in that community. Then they complained when companies shuttered their doors and refused to re-open, not trusting the environment.
I grew up during the civil rights movement, and I watched numerous black leaders stand up for what they believed, working hard and excelling. They had no special privilege and few rights. They did well because of their ethics and morals, not because some white liberal was talking down to them. They took on the Ku Klux Klan and ushered in a new era of desegregation.
Those leaders always respected themselves and they believed in themselves. These high achievers were not traitors to their race or to anyone else.
I honestly believe most can achieve if they can break the bonds of low expectations they have of themselves. We must unite as a country, end divisiveness and work to raise our own standards. We must respect ourselves and one another.
If we fail to join together and to strive for excellence situation, we will remain weak and we will remain divided.