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Observations of an African American Father

by on October 5, 2009

By

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

On this past Saturday, October 3, 2009 a 16 year old African American honor student, Derrion Albert was laid to rest in Chicago. This young man was beaten to death in the street while walking from school to the bus stop. Silvanus Shannon, 19, Eugene Riley, 18, Eric Carson, 16, and Eugene Bailey, 18, have all been charged with first-degree murder in Derrion’s death.

As I watched the video of this young man being beaten to death with a railroad tie I asked myself what could compel four young African American men to engage in such a wanton and willful murderous act? How could these young men have such disregard for another human being’s life that they would beat him to his death, in the street, in broad day light? What is the basis of their rage, their anger?

I then asked myself, where are their fathers? I made an assumption and came to the conclusion that their fathers must be absent, not active or engaged in their lives. This antisocial rage, this anger is probably in part a response to their being raised without the benefit of knowing the love of their fathers. If these young men were asked to explain what drove them to this act; they most likely would not be able to articulate a clear response. They probably do not know. If they do know, they would be too ashamed to say.

As a man who was blessed to be raised by two loving parents; I clearly understand the power of love. At the age of 50, I am still blessed to be able to talk with my almost 90 year old father every day (I lost my mother last March); hear his voice, seek his counsel; feel his love. As far as I have been able to come based upon knowing my father’s love, I can’t begin to imagine how dysfunctional I would be without it.

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