New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani famously applied the Broken Windows Theory to New York City during the 1990’s, strictly enforcing laws against petty crimes such as subway jumping and vandalism. He also authorized the controversial “Stop and Frisk” policy, which allows police to stop pedestrians and frisk them for weapons. During the 1990’s, New York’s violent crime rate dropped 51% and homicides dropped 72%. (New York City had just 414 murders in 2012, despite having a population more than three times that of Chicago and twelve times that of Detroit.)
These statistics do not mean that people like Derrick Rose do not have a point. But the hopelessness and frustration Rose describes comes from something more complicated than just a lack of money. How did Rose himself escape? Certainly, it was his phenomenal basketball talent that eventually allowed him to become a millionaire. But how was he able to cultivate that talent instead of falling prey to the gang violence that claimed so many lives in his neighborhood?
"My mom would walk down the street and drag us home if she heard we were getting into trouble," Rose explained to Sports Illustrated. "Even the drug dealers, when they saw her coming, would stop dealing and tell her where we were." It is ultimately parents who have the most power to rescue the next generation of African American men from the fate of becoming either murderers or murder victims.
Jordan Davis’s father, Ron Davis, expressed his anguish and confusion over his son’s murder to Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. “Just think about how a person like Michael Dunn would be so callous as to just disregard the life of Jordan Davis,” the elder Davis said. “You know, just throw it away like it was nothing.” Although the question of the value of Jordan Davis’ life seems particularly loaded because his murderer is white, Ron Davis’ words could easily be asked of any blacks who murder other blacks.
Only when we learn to value life—our own and the lives of others—will we cease to throw it away so carelessly. Take it upon yourself to mentor someone who needs to see life and all of its value and make a difference in tomorrow’s statistics.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.