With the nation's outrage in full view, I believe that this case gives an outlet to a rising sense of power felt by parents and youth alike to call into question the behavior exhibited by those who are sworn to protect and serve all citizens.
Police are equipping themselves with a variety of high-powered firearms because they feel outgunned by the criminals they have to defend themselves against.
I am American. Some of my ancestors were born here and knew no other land, some of my ancestors journeyed here from Europe, and some of my ancestors were brought here from Africa. I don't know the complete stories of any of their lives, but I know their stories merge to create mine. One that is very specifically American.
When a black person is killed in America, trolls come out of the woodwork in an attempt to justify or distract from the taking of that life.
Later this year, at the age of 32, I plan to quit my full-time job as a software developer and don't intend to look for another one. By then, I expect my portfolio will be large enough to fund my essential expenses for at least the next 30 years, if not indefinitely, so that getting another 9-to-5 job becomes an option rather than a necessity.
It's frustrating to watch white musicians be so ready to have legions of Black dancers/singers behind them, work with Black producers, sing about how "we" do and then be nowhere to be found when a Black tragedy takes the national stage.
Missouri is America, and like the nation itself, both racial strife and promise, are part of its enduring legacy. Long before black teenager Michael Brown, died tragically in a hail of police bullets, the dramatic epicenter of America's racial fault lines often emerged in Missouri.
Your credit score impacts a lot in your life, from buying a car to buying a house and even, sometimes, to getting a job. (Believe it or not, some employers check your credit report.) You owe it to yourself to know exactly what your credit score is, and how you can go about making it better.
Michael Brown's death is the merely the latest in a long line of episodes in which white police officers used deadly force against unarmed black men. African Americans are four times more likely than whites to die during an encounter with an officer.
There are the large moments. The ones where the Veil is lifted. These are the moments when the music stops and the dance ends. These are the moments when one can keep humming the tune and twirling like nothing has changed or stop to realize that those beyond the Veil have no cause for dancing.
How do you convince the people of Ferguson that we're one American family? How do you convince Michael Brown's grieving parents of our common values and equality under the law? Does the president even believe that what he said is actually true? Healing hasn't happened yet because old wounds were never resolved.
The events in Ferguson remind us that it important to address allegations of police brutality and to assess the underlying causes of the subsequent violence that continues to occur in that community.
Ferguson and the Middle East do have one striking commonality, but it has less to do with armored vehicles in the streets than with the way in which the media assigns culpability to black and brown bodies for the violence perpetrated against them.
I wish I had known then that a lot of us, in fact nearly every freshman, feels that insecurity in some way or another -- wondering whether they will succeed, whether people will like them, whether they can do the work.
I revisit a 1988 documentary in which Angelou and I attended a conference on "Facing Evil," held in the Hill Country of central Texas. Evil was a topic about which Angelou, the victim of childhood rape and virulent racism, had a lot to say.
Some predominantly white school districts in greater St. Louis area are voluntarily cutting tuition for transfer students to ease racial segregation. More districts need to take the initiative to integrate schools, and the state.
I recall visits in grammar school from "Officer Friendly." He would give us tips on how to be safe when walking to and from school. Officer Friendly told us that in an emergency, we should seek out a police officer, because their job was to serve and protect. What ever happened to Officer Friendly?
Imagine: A health crisis claiming over 16,000 lives each year. Then imagine a prescription drug that could be made widely accessible to save those lives, but isn't. Except, this is not a hypothetical situation.
By Angela Bronner, AOL Black Voices
Being the daughter of Frank Lucas had its privileges -- Francine Lucas Sinclair knows of $50,000 Fendi coats and a smorgasbord of expensive toys. She also remembers a daddy who used to make her breakfast and who would save his baby girl from getting her hair combed.
Francine Lucas Sinclair also knows of a childhood filled with shame and untruths.
The man she knew as daddy was to the rest of the world Frank Lucas, notorious drug kingpin who flooded the streets of Harlem with heroin, recently immortalized by Denzel Washington in the film, 'American Gangster.'
For his exploits in the drug game, Frank was incarcerated when Francine was 3 years old, and her mother, Julie Lucas, also was jailed, forcing the toddler to live with her mother's parents in Puerto Rico .
After years of silence, Francine Lucas Sinclair finally spoke about her parents this year; hers of course is not a typical story in the sense of $50,000 coats but quite typical in that one in every eight African American children has a parent in jail.
Francine Lucas Sinclair today lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and has founded a non-profit , Yellow Brick Roads for the 2.4 million American children who live with the shame, fear, financial and emotional turmoil that is born from a parent who is incarcerated.
What do you remember about your father, Frank Lucas, from your childhood?
I remember him being very good to me - he was like my protector. He would come home every day, bring me candy, play with me, throw me up in the air, cook me breakfast, and also when my mom and them would want to do my hair, I would scream and he would stop them from doing my hair. Absolutely daddy's little girl.
What about your mother? Did she go to jail because of your father's business?
My mother was sent away for six months initially and then she went away when I was about 9. The first time, yes, but the second time, it wasn't connected to my dad's business. It was something about a conspiracy and trying to connect people.
Did your grandparents try to hide the truth about your parents?
No, they didn't try to hide the truth from me. I knew my parents were in prison - I didn't know all the details about the scope of everything but I did know that there were drugs involved. I didn't really know what drugs were until I was 12 or 13 when I saw a movie called 'Less Than Zero' with Robert Downey Jr. But I really didn't know the extent of everything until I was 27 and saw the New York magazine article [the article on which the film was based].
How did you stay connected to your father?
When I was growing up I would talk to him every Sunday at 3. I didn't get to see him once he went to prison because once he went into the Federal prison system, they move them around and I was in Puerto Rico. I only got to see my mom once when she was away; she was gone for five years. I never did get to see my dad when he was in prison. The first time he came out was when I was nine and then he went back in for another seven years.
Did you ever think to ask as a nine-year-old about why your dad was away?
No, and that's very typical of that situation. You just get the "I'll be home soon" and you know that's not the truth but you're scared to ask. We know but we don't want to know. We really don't. Most kids will hide it; over their dead body are you going to find out the truth.
Why did you hold your secret for over 20 years -- was it shame?
Shame, absolutely, yes. Shame. There was shame and there was no reason to tell anybody. I would just make up stories about my parents, I would never go there.
So did you lie about your parents when you were younger?
Yeah, I would say they lived in the states. What did they do? I'd say they were in real estate. I would say whatever. If it was someone I knew I'd know for a long time, I'd say real estate but if it was someone in passing, I'd say anything like, he's in the military or something. I'd stick to those two lies -- either real estate or the military that way my story, I could always remember. You know when you lie, you always have to keep track of your lies.
The shame you mentioned, what was that about? Judgement?
Most children of incarcerated parents don't want people judging them or judging their parents because it hurts them like they're judging them. So yes, shame, sense of abandonment, loss. Just confusion and worry. Worry.
Why did you finally tell your story?
It took I don't know what for me to come out because I thought it would help some other people, but I would have gone with that to my grave if I could have. That's how most kids feel.
What do you think children of incarcerated parents need the most?
They need to be able to stay in touch with their parents. There are exceptions, but if the parents are in prison because of something that had nothing to do with the child...because the child doesn't see the crime. He only sees the parent that comes home every day and who's nice and loves them. The kid doesn't see the other side. A lot of these children end up with elderly grandparents. I think the most important thing for children of incarcerated parents is for the children to stay in touch with their parents, and possibly see them. And to see them, touch them. Because for some of these prisons, they can't even touch their parents. And for a kid that is crazy.
Talk about your Yellow Brick Roads program, for children of incarcerated parents.
I've been visualizing this since last year but the web site went up in June. I've been trying to make it a national program, something like the Boys and Girls club, but specifically for children of incarcerated parents. One chapter in every city. Basically, it's an afterschool program where kids can go and they can feel like they can speak freely, other kids are there from their same situation. They'll get help with their homework, extracurricular activities, financial literacy. Also have a program that can help transport the children to go see the parents because a lot of them have problems to go see their parents. Also give their caregivers support and also give their parents support.
How does this program differ from say, a Big Brother, Big Sister program?
A lot of programs out there like Big Brother, Big Sister, they have mentoring programs, but mentorship is part of the solution but it's not the solution. Mentorship should be in the context of something else. Because it's not the same thing if someone takes me out to a ballgame and gets ice cream and I'm worried to death about my mom. I'm here having a good time with this person I just met, but I really wish I could be sharing this time with my parent. And the child feels guilty about that, you know? My dad's over there rotting away in a cell and I'm over here having a blast. That's the way I felt because I did have a few people who tried to mentor me without knowing my situation. I didn't feel good about it. This is going to be for children of incarcerated parents by children of incarcerated parents. A lot of people on the board will be children of incarcerated parents.
Who was the first person you told about your father?
Glamour magazine in July 2007.
Wait, your husband didn't know?
Well, he knew about my father, but he didn't know about my mother. When the article in New York magazine came out in 2000, I felt like I had to tell him because we were kind of getting serious. But I still was able to hang onto that little piece of information [about my mother] because I think it was that critical.
Wow. So this is very new. How do you feel?
I feel good.
Have you gotten a lot of feedback from people?
Oh yes, you wouldn't imagine. The heart wrenching emails I get from people who are like thank you bringing this to light, for sharing your story because we don't feel so invisible anymore.
Resources for Children of the Incarcerated: