The Dec. 26 news article “Friends, social media give insight into teen killed in mall shooting” about Daquan Westbrook, killed in the mall shooting in Charlotte, revealed the enormous gap between a young man from a culture of poverty and violence and one from outside that world.
At 18 he was a felon with a history of illegal activities including possession of a firearm on educational property, drug activity, possession of stolen goods and larceny. He wrote and recorded songs about “guns, women, shooting people, and prison.” Literacy and speaking proper English were not a priority.
Friends described him as a “good guy” and “goofy little brother” who liked to make people laugh. He also aspired to be a rapper.
There’s no reason to doubt that he was, at times, that goofy kid with a big heart. But his choices led him toward destruction and away from achieving positive dreams and goals.
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Family and friends, however, reflecting his culture, believed that he was put in situations over which he had no control.
A belief in helplessness without personal responsibility guarantees failure. What can we, as a society, do to replace that fatalism, with its attendant rage and despair, and give young men like Daquan a chance for a productive life?