It could have passed for an episode of Focus on the Family. The discussion centered on family, faith and the tragic results of fatherlessness. To the contrary, this was a recent episode of Fox Sports 1's Speak For Yourself program and a discussion on, "What can we do to reduce violence in the black community?" A question like that usually draws the knee-jerk poverty-racism-police brutality-joblessness charges from progressives and Black Lives Matter supporters.
The discussion topic was prompted by the March 31 murder of Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle (who reached out to police about reducing gang violence) in South Los Angeles. Led by former pro football star Reggie Bush, an all-African-American panel on Speak offered thoughtful analysis and personal experience in a constructive dialogue. MSNBC, this wasn't.
Bush (appearing in photograph) was a Heisman Trophy-winning running back at USC (though he later returned the prize for, as a collegian, having taken money from a sports agent) and a long-time NFL player. He was transparent about the generational fatherless in his own family:
" ... My real dad was not in my life growing up. And so the foundation of why I wanted to be so great on the football field is because I wanted to make my dad jealous. Right? And I had this resentment and this aggression that I grew up with towards my real dad. And as I got older, I realized my dad never had his dad in his life, and I just posted something about this on Instagram the other day. My dad met his dad for the first time five years ago. My dad's 53-years-old, and my grandfather, who I've never met, still lives in L.A, to this time.
"So, to me, we gotta get back to the foundation at home, with the parenting. A lot of the boys I grew up with? They didn't have their dads. A lot of the players I played with in the NFL, they didn't have their dads growing up. So, for me, I became, I learned from a lot of the men through football. Football ultimately became that 'father' for me because that was where there was other men there. Now the issue with that was, I'm learning from other men and that were just as broken as me, right?"
Bush reiterates that it starts with parenting because fatherlessness has "significant effects."
Former NFL receiver Greg Jennings said he is a man of faith who grew up in an intact family and he believes that "if you're not standing for something, you'll fall for anything." Hussle changed his life around and others can, too:
"... And for these things to stop, we have to have a change of heart. There has to be something that we come into agreement with, that shifts us in saying, you know what? Just like Nipsey (a former member of the Crips). There was something that hit him, that jolted him. But you know what? I don't wanna gang bang no more. I want to use what I did and show these young people in my hood, in my neighborhood, that you don't have to do it the way that I did it. There is a different way, and I'm going to help you see that we can put it around you every single day. There has to be a heart change."
Jason Whitlock agreed with Bush and Jennings, adding, "It starts with family and faith, or faith and family. And we need more of that. If you don't restore the family, it's hard to correct any problem, it's hard to produce anything positive."
Finally, panelist Stephen Jackson talked about the presence of hate and jealousy in the hood toward those who are successful. He loves the hood but said he doesn't visit as often because he values his life more.