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Last year, the New York Times ran a series of stories entitled “1.5 Million Missing Black Men”. They highlighted the preponderance of black males in prison and the few black men who remain to lead their community and families. They pointed fingers at a variety of sources, as I have heard many times, but failed to point to the most obvious causes and solutions.

At least three or four times a week, week after week the TV morning news tells us a story about another young black male being killed by another young black male and about once every three or four weeks by a cop. The lack of interest the government has displayed in analyzing the root cause of the black on black murder problem and doing something other than just blaming poverty is abject negligence. I came from a dirt poor coal mining family; my mother’s family was from West Virginia and my father’s family was from Kentucky, so I do not buy the poverty excuse. What did I have that these dead young black males not have? I had a father and a mother who were married and lived together. I had a father who would beat the crap out of me for doing something that I knew was wrong. My parents took me to church on Sunday and we all ate at the same table every day seven days a week. We were poor but I was never told that I was poor or that we were poor because of something someone else did to us. Neither of my parents graduated from high school; however, they always told me that getting an education was the most important accomplishment of my life. I went to school in the worst part of our town to a school that my mother had gone to when she was a young girl. The school was in poor shape and falling apart, it was destroyed by the city shortly after I graduated and it was not replaced with a new school. The children from my old neighborhood are bussed to other schools.

What do the poor young black men of today have? They have absentee fathers. They have people (and sometimes our government) telling them that they are poor because rich white people are taking advantage of them. They are told that they are poor because they are the descendants of slaves. They are told that they are poor because their schools are not as good as white people’s schools and that society has stacked the deck against them. They start life with a bad attitude that is given to them by their parents and by opportunistic politicians looking for votes.

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But why are they killed by other blacks and the police? I picked one cause over all the other factors that are involved because I have witnessed its manifestation time and time again. Black mothers and our government tell black children that they have rights and that they should not allow anyone to violate their rights. The problem is that black mothers have never explained or defined these rights, so many of these young black males grow up assuming rights that do not actually exist. My mother never ever told me that I had rights! What she did tell me was that I had responsibilities and duties and that I had to respect older people. My childhood philosophy came from three sources: my mother, Sunday school, and cowboy movies (i.e., Roy Rogers, Gean Autry, and The Lone Ranger). What did I learn from watching these cowboys during my Saturday afternoon at the movies? I learned to respect women, never take advantage of someone who is already down, a good cowboy never kills anyone, cheaters always loose, cheating never pays at the end, and the bad guys always go to jail.

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Black mothers should tell their children “you do not have the right to question or disregard orders from a policeman; you do not have the right to argue with a policeman, you do not have the right to resist (fight) a policeman”. I suspect that these same assumptions of rights are also a major cause of one young black male killing another because his vision of his personal rights were somehow violated by the other black male.

The latest statistics from the FBI indicates that a young black male is approximately 250 times more likely to be shot by another black male than by a cop. The black on black murder rate is not going to be stopped or reduced until black mothers start teaching their young black male children that they not only have rights but also responsibilities and duties within society.


The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

John Simpson

During my twelve-year navy career I served as an electronics instructor and flight crew member tracking NASA manned apace shots. I took the first pictures of the Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin as it traveled south along the coast of Norway; one of the photographs I took was on the front page of the New York Times. I was a member of the navy’s Operation Deep Freeze in New Zealand and the Antarctic. During President Johnson’s South East Asia tour, I was assigned to President Johnson’s White House staff in Wellington, New Zealand and served as a security team leader. In 1967 I switched to the army and trained young army officers to be avionics maintenance officers. I was recruited by the Green Berets and assigned to jump school. After my airborne training, I was assigned to the 46th Special Forces Company in Thailand where I traveled from Malaysia to Burma installing and upgrading communication sites. On one occasion, I provided support for Special Forces operations in Laos. I was also an instructor for small weapons, jungle survival, physical security and combat-in-cities. In 1970 I graduated from primary flight school and Cobra attack-helicopter training; then went directly to Vietnam and the 25th Infantry Division just outside of Saigon. After six months, I was reassigned to the 101st Airborne Division just south of the dividing line between North and South Vietnam. I received nine air medals, two bronze stars and one army commendation medal in Vietnam. My next assignment was in Munich, Germany where I flew the border between East and West Germany. While stationed in Germany I was recruited by the Criminal Investigation Division and later Military Intelligence to track military drug dealers; my investigation led me to a French Communist woman who was supporting an underground newspaper that was providing instructions on how to sabotage military aircraft, vehicles and generators. While serving with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Germany I also trained the unit's Aero Rifle Platoon in combat-in-cities and combat-in-forest techniques. During my long military career I was trained in and pursued independent studies in special warfare, psychological warfare, and physical security. My presentations on the military prove that I understand the difference between the problems inherent to war and problems caused by poor military planning, leadership, and management. I have lived and worked in a number of Muslim countries and have studied Islamic culture and religion for more than twenty years. My presentations on the Middle East and Islam provide insight into current world events and our relationships with the Middle Eastern countries of Iran and Iraq. After retirement, I worked for Bell Helicopter and was assigned to Isfahan, Iran as a Cobra test pilot. I enjoyed Iran until the terrorism started. They blew up my favorite Korean restaurant just moments after I had walked out. I escaped from Iran just prior to the overthrow of the government. Upon returning home to Ohio, I learned from the evening news that some of the Iranian military officers I had worked with had been executed (murdered) under orders from Ayatollah Khomeini. Since leaving Bell Helicopter, I have had three novels published and have worked as a technical writer, publications consultant, and engineer for Siemens, IBM, Motorola, and Dresser Industries. I have written more than 300 technical manuals on computers, computer controlled equipment, central-office telephone equipment, pagers, robots, hydraulics, pneumatics, diesel engines, jet engines, helicopters, and mining equipment. Today, I am employed as a research and development engineer for a South Florida Aerospace company; I also continue to do public speaking and radio appearances. I live in Florida with my wife JoAnn and my four-pound Chihuahua named Chiquita.


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