I have never been one to express my religious or political views on Facebook. However, as dust begins to settle on the Michael Brown/Eric Gardner controversy, I feel it is critical to keep the discussion going so that last month’s national outcry doesn’t become next month’s old news. As a child who grew up in the Midwest and went to college in the state of Missouri, I feel especially linked to the current turmoil there. I grew up in a suburban town in Kansas with a population of 42,000 people- 4.3% of whom were African-American. As a child and a teenager I looked up to police officers. They were leaders to me, and they made me feel safe. In fact, many of my childhood friends and family members grew up to become policemen themselves.
In stark contrast to that, as an adult living in the New York Metropolitan area where 25.1% of the 23.4 million people are African American- the largest African-American community of any city in the country, I am extremely conscience of my own behavior as a black man in an urban environment. There is a divisiveness that exists between police and African-Americans in urban American society that stems from mistrust, and a lack of communication. In my experience, in times of turmoil, we tend to support what we know, but if do not make the effort to educate ourselves, we will never be able to know, and therefore understand and support, anything beyond the scope of our own experience. I believe that as advocates for our youth, it is our responsibility to bridge the communication gap between law enforcement and the citizens whom they serve through education.
It is for this reason that Be In The Know About Bullying has created Gateway, a program designed to create an opening for communication and healing between the Police Department of St. Louis and its urban youth. By focusing on the four principals of guidance, access, tolerance, and education, Gateway redefines the urban experience through a singular purpose and a shared responsibility. The first annual Gateway to Greatness Dinner, sponsored by Be In The Know About Bullying and the Alpha Epsilon Pi Sigma Chapter and Washington University is being held in order to raise awareness and funds for this important cause. We are also raising funds through Text to Donate. If you would like to make a contribution, please go to www.knowaboutbullying.com, and click on Donate. #washu #beintheknow #stlouis #bebetter #talklessdomore
"Just A Thought"
Sean L. James