How About that 18-Year-Old?


One wonders if the time will ever arrive that the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton school of thought will be recognized for the misguided groupthink that it is. Here is a quote from a piece by regular African-American columnist Merlene Davis in the Knight-Ridder-owned Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.) of Feb. 21 having to do with the fact that her son has just turned 18: “My greatest worry for him is getting caught in the net of suspicion our society throws out for black males. He thinks life will be fair or should be fair or even can be fair. That can be dangerous. And painful. And so wrong. Someone that innocent shouldn't be sent to fight a war, shouldn't be considered emotionally capable of entering a contract or even voting for the best candidate.”

One can’t know if Ms. Davis’s son has read or will read her words. Hopefully, he hasn’t and won’t. Sadly, he probably has or will. No mature person thinks of life as somehow being automatically “fair,” whatever that’s supposed to mean and no matter the color of skin or the creed or the faith…or lack of it. Was life “fair” to the numerous infants of any color skin who were catalogued in the paper in just the last year as having been first tortured and then killed by some scumbag of a boyfriend or “significant other” or stepfather, perhaps complicit with some whore/mother, with both of them belonging more in the slime of some zoo than among civilized people? Is life “fair” to anyone at any age who is told he/she has an incurable disease and just X number of weeks or months to live? Was life “fair” to any soldier in any war who either lost his life or was left with it maimed? Of course not…unless the individual decided to make it “fair.”

Perhaps the definition, among the many, of “fair” that applies is, “marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism.” Though they deny it, law enforcement people DO consider race-profiling in the course of their work, not least because of the statistics that call for that method. Black males are numerically disproportionate in the justice system, ergo, it is expected that black males will be surveilled in numerically disproportionate fashion on the basis of their race. Middle-eastern males (and even women) are even more susceptible to race-profiling now because they are preponderantly Muslim, and Muslims are butchering people all over the world in the name of Allah, their god as manufactured by Mohammed about 1,500 years ago. However, Ms. Davis’s son should not suffer unduly if, as is the case with people of all colors, he keeps his nose clean and gives no reason for suspicion. It won’t hurt, either, if both he and Ms. Davis understand that there is as much profiling within the black community as anywhere else, black individuals suspecting police of malice and deserving of disdain, as well as discriminating against each other on whatever basis they see – color, beliefs, companions, etc.

One wonders why Ms. Davis believes it is dangerous, painful, and wrong to believe that life will, should, or can be “fair.” Does she want her son to live in some sort of paranoid state, wondering if there is any reason to live, in the first place? “Fair” is much like life itself. It’s what one makes of it. It also has to do with just how “fair” an individual makes life for himself and other people. Ms. Davis’s son is the product of the same school system that whites attend in Fayette County, whether public or private. He’s had the chance, hopefully with a lot of help from her, to make his mark. He’s been exposed to the same influences, bad as well as good, to which his white counterparts have been exposed. He’s had the same teachers. He’s had to abide by the same rules. What makes him so different that he must not view any hope for himself? She makes the difference. Rather than damping or damning any enthusiasm he might have, she would do well to encourage him to believe that he can go far, just as other blacks have done.

Unless Ms. Davis has been in a cave for a long time, she surely understands that ONLY 18-year-olds and those just a bit older CAN fight the ground wars that are thrust upon the nation. Thousands of teenagers died in the miserable winter of the Belgium Battle of the Bulge in 1944-45. They died by the thousands in the Pacific, in Korea, in Vietnam, and by the thousands at Chateau Thierry and other hellholes in World War I. Because they died fighting, Ms. Davis has a bully pulpit to spew her depressing thoughts. Notwithstanding all that, she doesn’t have to worry about her 18-year-old being too young to go to war…simply because he doesn’t have to go to war. There’s no draft and no prospects of any sort of draft at any time in the near future as he goes beyond his 18 years. What she may not understand is that a lot of 18-year-old males like the idea of taking their chances in the military and simply do it because they can. It’s an adventure for them, a chance to get away and see if they can take it. In a lot, if not most, cases, the experience does more good than harm.

Do 18-year-olds have the maturity to sign contracts, make decisions, run their lives? Some do…some don’t. It’s just that simple. And a lot of 40-somethings are in the same boat. Some of them lack the good sense to get in out of the rain and also lack the skill to open an umbrella. That’s life. Ms. Davis’s son is probably up to attaining a lot more than she knows. Here’s more power to him. If he himself is “marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism,” as “fair” is described, he has already begun a journey toward success. If his mother is not, she might learn some things from an 18-year-old that she might not have imagined possible.

A lot of his success and failure, as well as that of others in his ethnic group, will depend on whether or not he subscribes to the Jackson/Sharpton ethos of victimization at all costs or accepts the notion that African Americans are perfectly capable of making it on their own. There are mentors and role models in abundance – blacks who have done what it takes to make it…and they’re in every walk of life.

And so it goes.