Why should I have to tell my sons to respect the police?

My sons are both military veterans, the oldest having serving in the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan and the younger in the U.S. Army in Iraq. Both served during wartime campaigns.

I am certain my oldest son would respect the police and would comply with any instructions given, provoked or not. I worry about my younger son because he is a bit more spirited and may be more confrontational with authority he deems misplaced. I am more concerned than ever about their safety in interacting with the police as well as in some black communities across the country.

As a black parent, I have always told my sons to avoid confrontation with police officers, respect authority and know their own rights. Recent prominent cases have increased my concern about their safety, if they were to encounter a police officer.

… But this issue is broader than just focusing on the actions of the police. We need to examine the conditions in black communities that create climates where these situations are more likely to occur. We need to understand the social, economic and political context in which poverty in black communities is perpetuated. We need to understand why black males are perceived as threatening and intimidating. We need a system that ensures the rights and liberties of all citizens are not infringed upon by anyone, including the police.

Read the entire column at UCF Forum or the HuffPost Blog