I have had considerable dialogue with dozens of readers who have weighed in on the Derrick Rose controversy, commenting on my Sun-Times column and my blog, positive and negative. It has all been very educational and compelling. Whether the issue will be resolved, one way or the other, remains to be seen.
But one reader was particularly eloquent, incisive and opinionated in his view of the matter. I am printing his response, not because I happen to agree with him, but because I think he provides a viewpoint from a black perspective that blacks don't want to deal with and is rarely if ever communicated, one that whites don't understand.
In our online discussions, I asked him why the perception is that the black community has done a very poor job of addressing the issues relating to preparing high school athletes for college and the recruiting process associated with it. His response was riveting.
"Simply put, we are not capable of doing it. For the longest time, I thought it to be a matter of choosing but I am not convinced that we, collectively speaking, do not have the necessary skills to prepare our children for this process and, subsequently, life.
"I can provide you with a myriad of reasons why this is true, such as no family structure, lack of education, poverty and fatherless children, just to name a few. And while all of these reasons will suffice and are all inter-related, I want to be specific with an observation of mine that I think will paint a clearer picture. In my estimation, there is no generatlon gap, socially speaking, in the black community.
"If you look at any thriving community, there is an obvious social distinction (generation gap) from one generation to the next. By that I mean that there is a clear-cut difference with an older generation in terms of social training, experience, work ethic, education and basic know-how.
"This dynamic serves the younger generation by providing them with real guidance and direction in the form real individuals want to emulate, learn from and consult with as they figure out who they are and what they should be doing with themselves. In effect, someone to report to. I am a strong believer that we all need someone to report to. In our community, this relationship doesn't exist from one generation to the next (at least not for the reasons that it should).
"I remember a time when you could tell a generational difference by appearance alone. You can't do that anymore in our community. Today, 40-year-olds and 20-year-olds dress alike. Linguistically, they sound alike. They listen to the same music. They share common interests and, unfortunately, their overall views and perspectives about what is important in this world are way too familiar.
"Therefore, it is pretty easy to see how this thing has gotten so out of control and I fear it will get worse. Our children are surrounded by people who simply are not either socially developed and/or knowledgeable enough to provide them with any real guidance toward getting prepared (socially and academically) to navigate themselves into and through a collegiate environment.
"Couple this with the fact that the Luther Bedfords and the Horace Howards are, for the most part, gone from the high school coaching landscape. These men were educators by trade who had successfully navigated the process from beginning to end. Men like that made honest efforts to prepare the next generation for our mental, social and academic climb into the real world based upon their knowledge and experiences.
"These men have been replaced with coaches the Chicago Public Schools employ as security guards in order for them to be eligible to coach due to the fact that they have no real educational pedigree. Add to the mix street agents who work either for AAU club teams and/or the gym shoe companies and it is easy to see how these young minds become so thoroughly corrupted. And when I saw street agents, know that my emphasis is on the word street. This ever-growing group of men is representative of people who have absolutely no business around children, let along advising them on what they should be doing with their lives.
"Let me conclude by saying that the major reason why we have done such a poor job of preparing our children for life (because that's all that we are talking about here) is simply that we aren't qualified to do it. It is a sad commentary to have to face the conclusion that we have become the improper influences on our children that our parents tried to protect us form. And, honestly, I am not convinced that we will recover from our current state.
"These children are so coddled so early that by the time they become teens they are totally corrupted and have absolutely no concept of what being responsible is. So telling Derrick Rose to take responsibility for his actions is like telling a homeless person to just get a house. It's not happening. These young men should be held to account for their actions. However, they have absolutely no concept of what accountability is."