Ethics Quote Of The Month: Patrick Smith, Father Of Sylville Smith

“What are we gonna do now? Everyone playing their part in this city, blaming the white guy or whatever, and we know what they’re doing. Like, already I feel like they should have never OK’d guns in Wisconsin. They already know what our black youth was doing anyway. These young kids gotta realize this is all a game with them. Like they’re playing Monopoly. You young kids falling into their world, what they want you to do. Everything you do is programmed. I had to blame myself for a lot of things too because your hero is your dad and I played a very big part in my family’s role model for them. Being on the street, doing things of the street life: Entertaining, drug dealing and pimping and they’re looking at their dad like ‘he’s doing all these things.’ I got out of jail two months ago, but I’ve been going back and forth in jail and they see those things so I’d like to apologize to my kids because this is the role model they look up to. When they see the wrong role model, this is what you get. They got us killing each other and when they even OK’d them pistols and they OK’d a reason to kill us too. Now somebody got killed reaching for his wallet, but now they can say he got a gun on him and they reached for it. And that’s justifiable. When we allowed them to say guns is good and it’s legal, we can bear arms. This is not the wild, wild west y’all. But when you go down to 25th and center, you see guys with guns hanging out this long, that’s ridiculous, and they’re allowing them to do this and the police know half of them don’t have a license to carry a gun. I don’t know when we’re gonna start moving. I’ve gotta start with my kids and we gotta change our ways, to be better role models. And we gotta change ourselves. We’ve gotta talk to them, put some sense into them. They targeting us, but we know about it so there’s no reason to keep saying it’s their fault. You play a part in it. If you know there’s a reason, don’t give in to the hand, don’t be going around with big guns, don’t be going around shooting each other and letting them shoot y’all cause that’s just what they’re doing and they’re out to destroy us and we’re falling for it.”

—–Patrick Smith, father of the late Sylville Smith, the 23-year-old man shot after an arrest by a black police officer, igniting horrific riots in Milwaukee. The body camera video allegedly confirmed that Smith’s son had a gun in his hand when he was killed.

Smith’s last sentence makes no sense, but accurately reflects the false and divisive narrative African Americans have been indoctrinated to believe. Other than that and the Constitution-ignorant suggestion that guns should have been banned in Milwaukee, this is as balanced, sincere, passionate and perceptive a statement regarding police shootings in the black community as any I have read or heard.

Mr. Smith understands the principles of responsibility and accountability, and possesses the courage to accept the hard truths they compel. He deserves our attention, compassion and respect.

I hope his community is listening.


Filed under Character, Ethics Quotes, Family, Race, U.S. Society

7 responses to “Ethics Quote Of The Month: Patrick Smith, Father Of Sylville Smith

  1. The last sentence indeed promotes the us against them narrative: “they’re out to destroy us.” While that is the perception and belief among many in the black community, it is not true. It’s not like a member of ISIS said it about the United States military or vice versa.

    I know from my own experience as a reserve police office for 20 years that many police officers are often more inclined to be extra-vigilant when they encounter a black person. I’ve participated on numerous traffic stops and when blacks are in the vehicle I’ve seen police take extra defensive measures they wouldn’t take with white people, and even have their hand on their side-arm, and occasionally have the pistol in their hand by their side.

    This is where fear intersects with prejudice and where prior experience is a major factor.

    BTW: |

    I made ethics alarms my “blog of the month” when I came across it a few days ago and started commenting here, , but here’s another good website I discovered just this morning:

  2. Jack said, “Mr. Smith understands the principles of responsibility and accountability, and possesses the courage to accept the hard truths they compel.”

    Understanding and actually putting into practice that understanding are two entirely different things.

    Jack said, “He deserves our attention, compassion and respect.”

    He deserves those things for being courageous in voicing these opinions; but I reserve judgement beyond that for now. Actions speak louder than words and his previous actions have not supported his words. He is grieving now; will his grief turn sour and vengeful, or will this tragic event be forgotten and life just return to its previous state, or will the tragedy transform him in a positive way.

    I truly hope this event will turn into a permanent life transforming event for him and turn him into a positive force in his neighborhood; that would be the best possible outcome of this tragic event.

  3. Other Bill

    Sure beats the living hell out of “They shot my baby!” Probably deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize by current standards.

      • Other Bill

        But seriously, ninety-five percent of this statement is absolutely heroic.

        • We say that because it bucks the trend, and in honesty it’s a brave statement to make, he’s probably going to face an amount of hostility from his own community for having said this… But in practise it amounts to a Got’cha, a one-off statement that affirms the biases of the people outside the group you would expect him to be in. It’s like the father of a shooting victim standing up for second amendment rights. It’s… perhaps nice to see, but the opinion should be no more or less valid than the opinion of the anti-second amendment parent… That is, we shouldn’t put much stock in the very emotional reactions of the people most effected by the situation.

          I hear it all the time “You’re X, so you can’t possibly understand the experiences of Y.” Well… That’s horribly broken logic, logic that we don’t accept anywhere else in life. Could you imagine treating the hypochondriac’s self-diagnosis with equal or greater weight than that of his physician? Very often in life we respect the fact that people who are less effected by a situation are more able to objectively identify exactly what is going on in a given situation. And I don’t see a reason why that should be different with personal loss, as opposed to medical malaise.

          The suffering of these people is real, and they should have every right to their feelings, and the expression of those feelings… But we need to take a step back and stop pretending that the feelings of these people are for some reason fundamentally able to hold an unbiased position on something so close to home. Because what we end up with is this sick combination of bias affirmation and grief porn.

          • Isaac

            “You’re X, so you can’t possibly understand the experiences of Y.” Well… That’s horribly broken logic…

            Yes, a thousand times this. It’s like when a teenager tells her parents that they don’t REALLY understand her new boyfriend Slicer the way she does.

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