Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
November 28, 2014

Response to Ferguson: Systemic Problems Require Systemic Solutions

Ferguson ASSOCIATED PRESS

Decades of segregation and inequality in Ferguson, as well as most American metropolitan areas, have fostered a racial inequality exacerbated by the criminalization of not just poverty, but the criminalization of black and brown bodies. Too many whites are too willing to believe that a black body poses a threat.

Michael Brown's Legacy Continues To Evolve

Michael Brown
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Family Of Chicago Woman Slain By Police Share What They'd Tell Mike Brown's Family

Rekia Boyd Lawsuit
RightsForRekia.com

Ferguson Gives Thanks After A Quiet Night

Ferguson
Joshua Lott via Getty Images

Here's Why Black Lawmakers Oppose Federal Recognition Of This Virgina Tribe

Capitol
Luiz Felipe Castro via Getty Images

This Is What The Black Voices Family Is Thankful For

Black Thanksgiving
fstop123 via Getty Images

'They're Murdering Our Kids And Getting Away With It'

Police Victims

For Some Protesters, It Doesn't Matter If Michael Brown's Hands Were Up Or Not

Ferguson
Aaron P. Bernstein via Getty Images

The Light in the Darkness

Ferguson Protests
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Legally Blind Single Mother Living On $21,000 Is Just Grateful To Finally Have A Turkey This Year

Hunger Single Mothers
Courtesy of Shawanna Vaughn

Family Of 12-Yr-Old Killed By Police Speaks Out

Tamir Rice
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama: Turkey Pardon Will Be My 'Most Talked About Executive Action This Month'

Barack Obama
MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

WATCH: 15 Family Films To Watch During Thanksgiving Weekend

The Butler
The Weinstein Co.

Bill Cosby Gave Interview To Keep Other Sexual Assault Allegation Quiet

Bill Cosby Interview
Gerardo Mora via Getty Images

The Rules Of The Game Of Life (When You're Black)

Cole Train
Gears of War

Black Men Don't Need a Guardian Angel. We Need Our Guardian Slave.

Ferguson
David McNew via Getty Images

What HuffPost Staffers Are Grateful For This Year

Gratitude
Kohei Hara via Getty Images

Amid Ferguson Cleanup, Locals Look For Their Community To Rise Above The Damage

Coffee House
Ryan J. Reilly/The Huffington Post

Police Gunned Down A 12-Year-Old And Somehow Local News Decided To Run This Story

Tamir Rice
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Michael Brown's Mom: Darren Wilson's 'Demon' Account Adds 'Insult After Injury'

Michael Brown

WATCH: Ferguson Police Arrest And Drag A Protestor Away

Deray Mckesson
HuffPost Live

Ferguson Protesters In Boston Stop Outside Jail, Chant 'Black Lives Matter'

Ferguson
Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

Cops Release Video Of 12-Year-Old Killed By Police

Tamir Rice
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former Model And Restaurateur Goes Missing

Barbara Smith Resturant
The Washington Post via Getty Images

12 Things White People Can Actually Do After the Ferguson Decision

Ferguson
ASSOCIATED PRESS

What Your Black Friend Might Think but Not Say About Ferguson

Police Brutality
Getty

Car Plows Through Michael Brown Rally (GRAPHIC)

Minneapolis 1
Aaron Lavinsky / The Star Tribune / AP

My Son After Ferguson: ‘I Feel Like I'm Wearing the Losing Team's Jersey'

Ferguson Hands Up
Joe Raedle via Getty Images

Why Do Black Men Die With Their Hands Up?

Ferguson
afp

Authorities To Release Video Of 12-Year-Old Boy Shot By Police Officer

Tamir Rice
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Attorney: Ferguson Prosecutor Had ‘No Interest' In Indicting Darren Wilson

Robert Mcculloch
ASSOCIATED PRESS

'Police Don't Care - He's Black,' Says Grandma Of Man Shot During Ferguson Protests

Deandre
Facebook

Boy Shot Dead By Cleveland Police Did Not Point Replica Gun At Officer

Tamir Rice
Justice For Tamir Rice

Darren Wilson: There's 'No Way' Michael Brown Put His Hands Up

Darren Wilson
ABC News

If You Think Looters And Arsonists Are The Only Ones Protesting Ferguson, Think Again

Ferguson Peaceful Protests
Keenan Jarman

Self-defense Claim Remains Big Hurdle For Feds In Brown Killing

Darren Wilson
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney's office

Niece Of Man Killed By Detroit Cop: 'When I See A Police Officer, I Literally Cringe'

Errol Shaw
Katina Crumpton

Ben Carson: Race Relations Are Worse Under Obama

Ben Carson
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How Do We Hold On to Hope in Times of Injustice?

Death Penalty
fergregory via Getty Images

Guard Reinforcements Contain Damage In Ferguson

National Guard Ferguson
ASSOCIATED PRESS

FOLLOW HUFFPOST

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    1. HuffPost
    2. View all RSS feeds

Frank Ocean Just Released A New Song

Frank Ocean
Jason Merritt via Getty Images

15 Songs You'll Want To Have On Your Thanksgiving Playlist

R Kelly Whitney Houston Kanye West
Getty

Best R&B Albums Of 2014

Pharrell Girl
ASSOCIATED PRESS

We're Thankful For Curvy Models, Curly Hair And More!

Huffpost Style
HuffPost Style Instagram

LISTEN: Wu-Tang Clan Respond To Police Shootings On New Track

Wu Tang Clan
Scott Legato via Getty Images

Pharrell Williams' Remarks About Michael Brown's 'Bully-ish' Behavior Surface

Pharrell Williams
Helen Boast via Getty Images

Q-Tip On Ferguson Verdict: 'We're Not Going To Stand By This Anymore'

Qtip
HuffPost Live

Richard Sherman Slams NFL Hypocrisy With Help From A Cardboard Cutout

Sherman
YouTube

The 15 Worst Owners in Sports

Dan Snyder Redskins
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Salt-N-Pepa Pushes It Real Good In New Geico Commercial

Salt N Pepa
YouTube

Former Police Officer Explains Why He's Backing Protesters In Ferguson

Officer Ray Lewis
MICHAEL B. THOMAS via Getty Images

Documentary Examines Fact From Fiction Behind Rising Violence In Chicago

Chicago Love Revolt Tv
REVOLT TV

15 ESPN Trade Machine Approved Deals for Kobe

Kobe Bryant
Tom Pennington via Getty Images

Bill Cosby Allegedly Leaked Story About Daughter's Drug Problem

Bill Cosby
Ethan Miller via Getty Images

Rappers, Singers Speak Out, Protest Ferguson Decision

Q Tip Ferguson
Twitter

We Want Beyoncé's '7/11' Crown

Wxyz Jewelry
YouTube

The Harsh Truth About Dating Online As A Black Woman

Video Girl Persona
Paige Tutt

LeBron And Other Sports Stars React To Ferguson Decision

Lebron
David Liam Kyle via Getty Images

Rapper Killer Mike Delivers Powerful Speech About Ferguson

Killer Mike
Robb Cohen/Invision/AP

'Justice League' Hip Hop Music Producers Tweet "Bill Cosby Gets a Pass" on Rape Accusations

Rape
Simone Becchetti via Getty Images

Iyanla Vanzant Gets A Big Surprise From Oprah

Iyanla Vanzant Oprah Surprise
OWN

Stream ‘Beyonce Platinum Edition' Right Now

Beyonce
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

How Iggy Azeala Immediately Impressed Rapper T.I.

Own Oprah Where Are They Now Ti Iggy Azalea
OWN

Cancelled?

Queen Latifah
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Watch Waka Flocka Flame's Bizarre Cough Drop Ad

Waka Flocka Flame
Pine Bros.

Your Full List Of AMAs Winners

American Music Awards
Christopher Polk/AMA2014 via Getty Images

Lil Wayne Debuts A New Song At The AMAs

Lil Wayne
Kevin Winter via Getty Images

Nicki Minaj Got Emotional At The AMAs

Nicki Minaj
Kevin Winter via Getty Images

Here's Jaden Smith Dancing To 5 Seconds Of Summer

Jaden Smith
Jeff Kravitz/AMA2014 via Getty Images

American Music Awards Red Carpet 2014 Was Glamorous And Over The Top, Of Course

Ferg Gigi Sparks
Getty Images

Bruno Mars Sang Backup While Mystikal Rapped On 'SNL'

Bruno Mars
ASSOCIATED PRESS

► Terry Crews' 3-Phase Plan To Be A Better Man: Are You Up For It?

Terry Crews Better Man
The Huffington Post Canada/ Brian Vinh Tien Trinh

Beyonce's New Music Video Is Her Best Surprise Yet

Beyonce
YouTube

Former En Vogue Singer: I Want Money For Lifetime Movie Or I'll Sue!

En Vogue
ASSOCIATED PRESS

WATCH: Tina Knowles Dishes New Details On Solange's Wedding

Tina Knowles

Notes of a Military Son

Comments (24)

During this week -- Military Families Week -- I am reminded of the valuable lessons I learned from my father about the humanity and importance of those who defend our freedom.

My Dad, Clifford Alexander, is a "first" in many ways, born in 1933, an only son of two civic-minded parents who were deeply immersed in their community, Harlem. His parents were both bright, and while neither had college degrees they knew that education was the road to their son's life success, and he graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School -- an incredible success for anyone, much less an African-American of his generation.

He then made a career of leaping over racial barriers and breaking down doors. He served several presidents, and in 1977 President Carter asked Dad to serve in his Administration, as Secretary of the Army.

Dad was responsible for military operations worldwide, wielding civilian powers that were only surpassed by the President himself. His service as Army Secretary immersed him in a world in which there were clear chains of command and protocol, and fixed notions of rank and power.

In my father's eyes, his powers also carried responsibilities and courtesies, and he made it a point to always try to respect the dignity of everyone he encountered. He also deeply valued the ultimate commitment to country that the men and women who serve in our armed forces -- our nation's greatest patriots.

He was at the top of the chain of command, but he never saw himself as superior. It was quite the opposite; he knew that his service was equal to all who served -- one man among thousands in service to country.

Dad made the quality of life of the soldier his top priority. Every time he visited an Army base, he scheduled an hour at the base gym for a pick-up basketball game with the enlisted men and women. He broke it down: Running the court, in shorts, on the floor, there is no rank.

The lessons came all the time -- daily life, leading by example. I recall one weekend morning when he and I walked out the back door of our townhouse to pick up some groceries. As we walked through the alley, a homeless man approached us, and my father greeted him with a hearty "Good morning, sir."

I had seen soldiers and four-star generals offer Dad the same greeting in the halls of The Pentagon, and at Army bases around the world. After we moved along, unprompted, Dad reminded me of something: "He was somebody's baby one day."

Those words with that context remind me of the common humanity that my parents value so much. Their respect for others, and pride in our own identity as African-Americans, informed their -- and eventually my -- sense of self and commitment to service.

My family was immersed in a generation of change defined by public service and social activism. Our life was defined by my parents' work, and by the values inculcated by our day-to-day existence.

So in Military Families Week, I spend a little extra time thinking about those who commit themselves to country, so that we can live in these remarkable times today. Every day, I am thankful for our armed forces, and I pay particular tribute to the individual men and women serving all around the world.

Dad is 77 years old, and just as committed as ever. In the past few years, he carried on his own mission to speak out against the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that was a blight on our nation. He articulated the fight as one over the basic human dignity of those who serve our nation with pride and distinction.

He won't be still, he won't be silent. I honor the individuals who wear The Uniform, as he taught me.

Comments: (24)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 3

Most Commented Articles

Daily Drama

The Best Clips From TV's Hottest Shows


More Daily Drama >>

Get Closer to BV

  • slider Image
  • slider Image
  • slider Image

BLACK MUSIC NEWS
The latest news and updates on a multitude of music stars.
Check It Out!

BLACK MUSIC NOTES

       

MEN OF MCCAFÉ SEARCH
McDonald's continues its nationwide search to find five community-service minded black men during this year's CIAA tournament.


LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN

       
 

Find a Message Board

Discover conversations on everyone from Barack to Beyonce. There are nearly 50 forums, so click on a category below and find the right one for you.