Your Opinion: Reply to Brown on race, crime

Dear Editor:

After I read the letter from Steve Brown identifying crimes committed by African-Americans as a purely “black” problem, my first reaction was pure astonishment at the clarity of it. Mr. Brown’s letter fails at multiple levels and creates challenges to address the most egregious in 400 words.

First, the essential premise of Mr. Brown’s letter is that crime in the African-American community is their problem, of their making. Two centuries of slavery, another century of “Jim Crow” and 50 years of slow, steady progress are part of our weave, part of our national quest for a dimension of racial justice and fairness. The statistics of inadequate education, poverty and diminished chances for success in the African-American community are this nation’s problem, not just theirs.

Our national economic crisis from a racial perspective clearly reveals that among white Americans our unemployment and our economic complications are full employment compared to what is happening in the minority communities, brown and black. Pretending or asserting that not all the citizens of Jefferson City have a significant stake in the well being of certain neighborhoods ignores and denies the absolute need for civic progress to be shared and promoted throughout our community. To insist upon abandoning a group to “fix it yourselves,” as he so eloquently puts it, violates the core sense of community that we all should pursue.

Additionally, his logic requires us to accept that because several individuals of color did something criminal, persons matching the racial composition of the perpetrator are solely responsible for the act and its remedy. Can Mr. Brown not hear what he is saying?

This ushers us to another revealing statement that Mr. Brown does “not owe anyone’s child an education or health care.” I hope this statement is not as a recipient of Medicare and I would expect that public education was part of his upbringing. This is tribalism maximized. When “me” is all that matters, we are flirting with very destructive forces.

Finally, whenever someone is required to assert that they are not acting in a racist way or saying racist things, the defensive nature of the statement indicts the speaker. The assertion that he didn’t vote for President Obama surprised me not at all. Fundamentally, his policy of the “problem” being one to be resolved within a bubble is practically and morally unacceptable.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to


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