Reconceptualizing Parental Fear– Part 2: FEAR– Facing Everything And Responding

Go Slow and Steady…Cross the finish line…Finish the Race

Dr. Micheal Kane

In Part I of At the Crossroads:  Re-conceptualizing Parental Fear…, the focus of the writing included the following:

  • Conceptualizing fear and the privileges assigned to certain people in authority, power, and control to protect the members of the larger group ( family, community, society)
  • The impact on fear on ethnic minority parents as well as their inability to protect their children from being targeted by the police or other individuals within a society
  • Encouraging the ethnic minority individual to conceptualize the situations he/she may face in daily living as similar to “running a race.”
  • Utilizing the concept of “running the race” as a metaphor, encouraging the ethnic minority individual to develop and utilize empowerment strategies.

For this writing, we will focus on:

  • Assisting the ethnic minority individual to seek empowerment of self, rather than “giving up” power generally associated with the privileges of authority, power and control.
  • Identifying and clarifying the roles, relationships and duties of the participants associated in the race, i.e., “runners” (the police officer and the prosecutor), referees (the judge/court commissioners) and the fans/bleachers (the viewing public, society).
  • Identifying and discussing strategies for the ethnic minority individual to utilize when interacting with a police officer or others who consider themselves to be an authority figure.
  • Discussion of the Ten Commandants and Eight Golden Rules Outlying Safety Tips in interacting with others in society.

Part I concluded with the model of The Five Rs of RELIEF.  Using this model, the individual would ideally become engaged in the process of “transformation” (i.e., unification of thoughts and feelings) and be able to draw upon the following points of awareness:

  • Awareness #1
    The ethnic minority individual must want to understand the physical makeup of the competition (i.e., standing at the starting line). The ethnic minority individual must want to understand that while he/she is lining up with the other runners, there may be the appearance of competition; however, in reality the other runners may also be collaborating together with the purpose to defeat him/her.

Among these possible “participants” are the following: law enforcement, prosecutors, bail bondsmen, corrections, and probation and parole officers.  The “officials” (referees) regulating the “appearance of fairness” of the race are the judiciary.  In the “bleachers” are the fans.  The fans include the members of society i.e. the larger group.

However, the playing field is also complicated by the fact that in this climate of gun proliferation, fans can often assume the role of participants and officials, which makes it even more difficult for the ethnic minority individual to find his/her path. Thus, this reinforces the “want” of the ethnic minority individual to change one’s strategy so he/she can “run the race smarter not harder.”

Police and prosecutors are often very competitive with each other.  It is not unusual that they do not trust each other.  However, in order to perform in their respective professions, they “need” (survival or the system fails) to work together to win the race.  The “rules” are set in a way that forces the police and prosecutor to “depend” (again, survival or the systems fails) on each other in order to achieve success (arrest/conviction).

As indicated earlier, the police are in the first “lane” because they are responsible for making the arrest.  The prosecutor is in the second “lane” because they are responsible for filing formal charges.  It is important for the ethnic minority individual to want to understand that the police, while they can make the formal arrest by the rules (law), they cannot file the formal charges.

The same rule (law) applies for the prosecutors.  They can file the formal charges; they can also order or direct the arrest, but they cannot institute the formal arrest.  This action is left in the purview of the police.  Once again, both runners are by the rules (law), dependent on each other and thus bound in what can be at times described as a conflicted and hostile “marriage.”

However, this is different in cases where other individual members of society are involved.  Where police and prosecutors have defined roles and responsibilities that they are expected to operate within, other members of society are not bound by those rules, and the police and prosecutors only come into play after the altercation is done.  It is incumbent upon the ethnic minority individual to be aware of this, and to understand that because rights exist, that does not mean that they will be respected without the threat of prosecution.

  • Awareness #2

The ethnic minority individual must want to understand that although he/she is impacted by stereotypes created by the larger group (society), the same applies to the sub-units that the larger group (society)  has given special privileges (authority, power and control) to enforce the law, as well as other individuals that are also governed by these sub-units.

Consequently, these internalized feelings (stereotypes) serve to impact those relationships.  Non-minority individuals may believe that the police are not sufficient to provide protection, so they form militias, or at the very least, arm themselves.

However, as stated earlier, they are dependent on each other; therefore it is essential that all the sub-units “respect” each other.  Trust is not a “commitment” of this marriage (conflict and hostile).  Trust can develop over time depending on interactions created by individuals working together during the experience of the “marriage”.

If the relationship between two individuals of competing sub-units is good, then trust between those two individuals is created.  This level of trust is never extended to anyone outside the relationship of the two individuals.

  • Awareness #3

The ethnic minority individual must want to understand and be aware of the lack of trust between his competitors, and the lack of trust they have in him.  The two competitors are aware that the nature of their respective professions and responsibilities create a need that each sub-unit respects the other in order to accomplish their respective goals, regardless of how divergent those goals may be.

Strategy #1- The Running of the Race

The ethnic minority individual must want to focus on crossing the finish line (completing the race).  In doing so he/she must want to drop the focus on winning, and even on fairness; again, understanding that the rules and the other runners are set up to compete against the ethnic minority individual.

Strategy #2- Interactions & Relationships

The ethnic minority individual must want to understand the interactions and relationships among the competitors.

Therefore, the ethnic minority individual must want to understand the difference phases of “contact and interaction” with each runner in the race.  It is essential for the ethnic minority individual to remember the following three rules regarding non-serious and serious encounters and the magic word(s) when feeling endangered or uncomfortable:

  1. Rule A – All encounters are potentially serious encounters.
  1. Rule B – Magic Words #1: “I pose no danger to you or to your family or possessions.”
  1. Rule C- Magic Words #2: “I am going to remain silent. I want to speak to a lawyer.”
  1. Rule D – Magic Words #3, “I do not consent to the search of my vehicle, home or
    personal possessions.

If the ethnic minority individual is of minor age (has not achieved their 18th birthday), the “magic words” slightly change to include the following:

  1. “I am a minor. I am (state age and date of birth).  I want to have my parent or
    guardian present before you ask me any questions.”
  1. My parent(s) name(s) is/are.
  1. My parent’s phone number is.
  1. I reside at (give residential address).
  1. I attend (if appropriate) provide name of school.
  1. I have nothing else to say until my parent or attorney is present.


Strategy #3 Forms of Encounters With Police Officers

The ethnic minority individual must want to understand AND identify the different types of encounters one can experience when interacting with police officers specifically.

  1. The Conversational Encounter – This is when the police officer is attempting to get information from the individual but doesn’t have enough evidence to make an arrest. This encounter is also referred to as the “casual encounter” or “friendly conversation”
  1. The Detention Encounter – This is when the police officer can detain the individual only if they have reasonable suspicion that the individual has been involved in a crime. Detention means that although the individual has not been arrested, he/she can’t leave.
  1. The Arrest Encounter – This is when the police officer can make a formal arrest having found probable cause that the individual has been involved in a crime.
  1. Remember, it is the responsibility of the police officer to make the formal arrest. It is the responsibility of the second runner (prosecutor) to file the formal charges.
  1. Once arrested, the individual must be placed within the centralized computer database and processed (booking-identified/fingerprinted).
  1. Once arrested, the individual by law and police procedure cannot be “unarrested”.
  1. The recording of the arrest, its filing within the National Crime Information Center computer database (NCIC) AND remains “forever” (survives following death of the individual) whether or not charges are filed by the secondary runner (prosecutor).

The Ten Commandants of Safety for Ethnic Minority Individuals When Interacting With the Police Officer “THOU SHALL OR SHALL NOT.”

  1. Always be RESPECTFUL to the police officer.
  1. Never be DISRESPECTFUL to the police officer.
  1. If inclined to speak to the police officer always be HONEST.
  1. Never provide FALSE information to the police officer.
  1. When interacting with the police officer ALWAYS keep your hands in plain sight and away from your body. NEVER initiate any MOVEMENT without the police officer’s AWARENESS and CONSENT.
  1. When riding in a vehicle and being followed by a patrol car, ASSUME that the police officer is “running” (seeking to identify) your license plates through the computerized database searching for warrants or any viable information regarding the vehicle. ASSUME the police officer is “searching” and “observing” for a reason to stop the vehicle.
  1. NEVER consent to a search of your person, belongings, vehicle or residence by the police officer.
  1. NEVER resist the actions of the police officer should the police officer chose to perform a search of your person, belongings, vehicle or residence.
  1. If formally arrested or detained due to concerns for the “police officer’s safety”, DO NOT RESIST. Follow the instructions and directions of the police officer.  DO NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS WITHOUT BEING IN THE PRESSENCE OF AN ATTORNEY.
  1. If you are dissatisfied with how the incident was handled by the police officers involved use your skills of observation, memory and details (date, time place). DO NOT act in the following manner: (REMEMBER, DO NOT) use profanity or make verbal or physical threats.
  1. DO NOT threaten to have the police officer terminated or threats of contacting his supervisor.
  1. DO NOT request the police officer’s name or business card. Instead, QUIETLY observe the police officer’s badge number and ID number located on the police vehicle.
  1. DO NOT video or record in plain sight of the police officer.
  1. DO NOT contact his direct supervisor. INSTEAD, document the incident (date, time, place, persons involved, police officers badge numbers and/or identification number of patrol vehicle) and FILE A WRITTEN REPORT directly to the Internal Affairs Section of the police department.
  1. Send a copy of the report to the mayor’s office, your local representative (city, county, State, federal) and the civil rights organization in the local or regional area.


Concluding Remarks

There are two other sub-units that are involved in the race (referees – the judiciary) and those individuals sitting in the bleachers, i.e., fans (members of the larger group).  Always remember that the referees (judges) do not make the rules.  The responsibility of the judiciary is to ensure that those involved, the “playing field” is level and all runners abide by the “rules” of the race.

The fans, the larger group, simply want to see a good race.  The fans are the audience.  They want to see the race being run without any impact or, if any, the objective for the police is to have minimal influence in their daily lives.  However, as we have seen in recent months, fans have often taken matters into their own hands when they feel that the police have not done their best in protecting them.  It is this fear and dissatisfaction that can be taken out on the ethnic minority individual who is not aware.

The fans will yell “foul” only when they observe a “flagrant violation (actual video recordings of a helpless Rodney King being hit and repeatedly beaten LAPD officers) or when they are pressed the fear button (i.e., the riots of Los Angeles following the jury verdict of acquittal for the police officers involved in the brutal attack of Rodney King).  Otherwise the fans prefer not to know how the police used the rights (authority, power, control) granted to them to enforce the “rule of law.”

It is essential that the ethnic minority individual understand and come to accept that he/she is in the race alone competing with other runners who, although may not trust each other, clearly understand that they must work together in order to be successful in “controlling and managing” the identified individual (the ethnic minority individual).

  • Eight Psychological Golden Rules for the Ethnic Minority Individual When Interacting With the Police:
  1. Respect the police officer. Respect his/her profession.  Respect his/her designated privileges of authority, power and control.  Never Blindly Trust the police officer.  Trust is earned, not given away.  Remain “COOL, CALM, COLLECTIVE and CALCULATIVE” of thoughts and emotions during the interaction.
  2. Be friendly and remember you are not there in the interaction to create new and meaningful relationships. Once the interaction is over, it is over.  Move forward and return to your “normal” (hopefully, non-traumatized) life.
  3. Remember the police officer may be functioning off a set of stereotypes or misbeliefs that have nothing to do with you, as much as it hurts …. just remember your complexion may not rate the protection.
  4. Remember to work at not internalizing the interaction with the police officer. Internalizing the interaction may only serve to further the traumatization you may be experiencing.  This in turn will only serve to be destructive on one’s physical and emotional health.
  5. Remember that due to a combination of various factors (i.e., complexion, ethnicity and gender); there will be without doubt many more such interactions that will occur in the lifespan of the ethnic minority individual.
  6. Remember your objectives (which are the same for the police officer).
  7. Safe stop.
  8. Keep the interaction professional and short as possible.
  9. Come home to your loved ones alive and unhurt.
  10. Gain the ability to wake up, live life and enjoy another day.
  1. Never, ever (ever!!) run from the police officer. This behavior may place you at risk of physical injury or death.
  1. And keep at the forefront the MAGIC WORDS
  1. Magic Words #1 – “I am going to remain silent. I want to speak to a lawyer.”
  1. Magic Words #2 – “I do not consent to the search.”

In Chinese astrology and numerology the number 8 is the symbol of prosperity.  “May your path be long and prosperous.  May you live in interesting times and enjoy your own personal Journey of Self Discovery”.

Dr. Micheal Kane



Please note that this writer is not an attorney.  The advice given is a result of combination of clinical experience, research and daily living.  For legal advice, it is strongly suggested that the reader consult with an attorney.  An attorney can be identified in the local State bar association



“We have entered an age in which education is not just a luxury permitting some men an advantage over others.  It has become a necessity without which a person is defenseless in this complex, industrialized society.  We have truly entered the century of the educated man.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

37th President of the United States


Until the next crossroads – The journey continues

Re-Conceptualizing Parental Fear Part 1: From Trauma to FEAR (Facing Everything And Responding)

Choices: Staying there and taking it, or running the race smarter not harder.

            “Being president is being a jackass in a hailstorm.  There is nothing to do but stand there and take it.”

Lyndon B. Johnson
37th President of the United States

            When Jamal was 14, he was caught stealing orange juice from the Rogers.  He had money in his pocket to buy the juice and didn’t because his friends were stealing.  When I got the call he was in custody at the police station. I ran in the snow from Beacon Hill to the 12th Avenue police station to get him. 

            I had imagined Jamal beaten and bruised.  He turned out to be okay with no bruises and was not beaten.  The fear I had was that he would not be okay.  I will never forget that feeling of helplessness and fear.

            Jamal is currently a non-commissioned officer and squad leader serving with the armed forces in Afghanistan.

Tina (parent) age 55 Seattle, WA. 

   The story above relates to an experience that occurred 12 years ago.  It demonstrates that the trauma of “parental fear” remains a permanent fixture within the foundation of the psychological self.

   Tina is college educated and has been employed in the healthcare profession for 30 years.  She is married and a mother of three highly successful adult children.  She votes, pays her taxes and when so ordered, takes her turn on jury duty.  Her story is simply the concern of a parent who is fearful of harm that others in society can do to her son, and the willingness of the judicial system to hold them harmless for it.

     Tina is representative of a number of individuals who are law abiding citizens who feel uncomfortable or fearful regarding the safety of their loved ones and their interaction with members of a society that fears them.   These parents have come from a diversity of settings, professions and occupations ranging from police officers, lawyers, and nurses, to longshoremen, teachers and laborers.  If we assume that these are otherwise rational, functioning individuals then:


  • What is the basis of their fears?

  • What has been their experience interacting with American society?

  • What is the sense of reluctance in “trusting” those who are sworn to “protect and serve” their community?


When these questions were asked of Tina, she responded:

            “When it comes to young black males and police, there is that fear.”  They don’t have to be doing something wrong, they just have to be young and black.  I really believe this and I don’t see it getting better.”

     In previous At the Crossroads writings, the focus has been on the how the feeling of fear has been conceptualized.  Fear has been “used” by the “larger group,” i.e., family, community and society as an instrument of controlling the “journey of self-discovery” of the individual and to maintain his/her allegiance/commitment to the larger group.

     The larger group is impacted by stereotypes of other groups, which too are comprised of individuals.  In a previous writing, I defined a stereotype as:

            “A widely held, but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing.  Realistically speaking, stereotyping only serves to reinforce the fears that are maintained by the larger group.”

     As a result, the largest unit of the larger group (society) authorizes sub-units (i.e., law enforcement, criminal justice and the judiciary) to create structures on its behalf to protect itself from the elements of society (ethnic minority populations) that are subjected to the stereotypes as created and reinforced by the larger society and believed by its members. 

     These sub-units are handed privileges to do what is necessary to maintain the safety of the larger group.  These privileges come in various forms and include authority, power and control.  Along with this come the instruments in which they are allowed to carry out their activities.  The instruments include the badge, various forms of weaponry and most importantly, the rule of law.

History has shown that whenever the “panic button” of the larger group regarding an individual of a stigmatized group (ethnic minorities) has been activated, all members of the stigmatized group are placed under suspect or observation until the larger group can return to its state of “safety.”  

     The difficulty here is that the individual members of the larger group are never able to achieve a sense of safety and therefore appear to be always on the edge of hyper vigilance and ready to immediately push the panic button (or pull the trigger) again, often at the appearance or imagined sense of fear. There is the premise or unconscious belief that reinforces the activation that the act or acts of one individual of the stigmatized group are representative of the behavior of the entire group.  However the larger group does not hold the same belief regarding accountability for its own group.  Specifically, the individual of the larger group upon committing an egregious act is immediately identified, separated and held to account for his/her actions.

It is without doubt that a society without law and structure would be laid to waste by the lawless.  It is without doubt that many who seek to serve in law enforcement and the judiciaries are honest, hard-working men and women who are committed to protecting and serving their communities.   However, it is essential for the reader and particularly the ethnic minority individual to understand that although these sub-units are formal institutions with complex structures, they are maintained by human beings who are members of the larger group.  These individuals come to the work environment, or in fact, any environment, and may bring both their internalized beliefs (stereotypes) and individual, personal agendas.

     It would be a gross failure for us to ignore the reality that such feelings are consciously or unconsciously integrated into the manner in which these individuals present themselves and interact with others.  The larger group takes on the responsibility of “training” the individual to have “respect” and “trust” for those who wear the “badge” (police and correction officers), wear the “robes” (judiciary) and others associated with the criminal justice community (probation and parole), but neglects to cover having that same respect for other fellow individuals.

     At the same time, the ethnic minority individual can reach a level of conflict and confusion when he/she observes that the “rule of law” being applied by those in positions of authority, power and control, does so differently, specifically on the terms of the complexion, color of skin and/or gender, and that behavior is mirrored by individuals and others in the larger group who do not have the responsibility of law enforcement.  That conflict is increased when ethnic minority individuals realize that they are being judged collectively for the act or actions of one individual.

     The person most vulnerable to abuse is the ethnic minority individual who is at the primary core of one of the sub-units within the larger group (family).  It is at this level that the main instruction on how to act or behave is reinforced on a daily basis by either a parent or responsible adult. 

     Subsequently, it becomes problematic for the ethnic minority parent/guardian/responsible adult to reinforce the message of expressing respect and trust, and belief in institutions in which they themselves may serve, yet openly watch the continuous incidents of behaviors among their peers and others that contradict the messages being sent to the ethnic minority individual, particularly adolescents and young adults.  The conflict, confusion and contradiction that no doubt results may create a sense of uneasiness for the ethnic minority parent/guardian/responsible adult, leading to fear regarding the inability to protect their loved ones from stereotypes or maintain a safe environment for the adolescent/young adult once he/she leaves the family residence. 

Tina, the parent in Seattle commented:

          “My son Calvin comes home from work at 2:00 a.m. sometimes.  I asked him if the police had ever stopped him.  He told me of an incident while he was walking home.  He was stopped and detained by three police officers riding on bicycle patrol. 

            They told him they were stopping him for his safety.  They asked him a few questions and then let him go.  It came out of nowhere, beginning and ending quickly.

            Stopping him for his safety?  He was walking alone, minding his own business.  He had not done anything, just walking.  I was skeptical and questioned the real motive for stopping him.  I am always concerned for him when he is out.  It is terrible to be afraid of the criminals and afraid of the police.  That leaves no one else.”

     These parental fears are reasonable.  These fears can be disabling as well as traumatic as parents seek ways to protect their children from the waves of emotional and psychological assaults (micro aggressions/ micro assaults) they are likely to encounter in their lives. 

     The story being told below is about an ethnic minority parent’s commentary regarding her feelings when her son leaves for the evening to spend time with friends:

            “My heart catches in my throat as I stand at the window of my suburban Maryland home and watch my 18 year old son drive away to meet friends for the evening.  Often before I hand him the car keys, I anoint him with oil, lay my hands on him and remind him of God’s love and protection. 

            And with that, I still can’t sleep until I hear him unlock the door.  My son insists I fuss over him too much, but in those three short years he has been a driver, he has already been stopped by cops more times than I have been in the thirty years I’ve had my license. 

            Once I asked him if he thought the police were there to serve and protect him.  He laughed, confessing that the idea had never crossed his mind.”



Question: What does the ethnic minority parent/responsible adult do in these types of situations? 


  • How do I protect my child and teach him or her? Young people can be so headstrong. 

  • How do I teach him or her how to interact with those in authority who may fear them for no other reason than their complexion, the color of their skin or gender?


Response:  First, teach your children to focus on “running and completing the race” and develop strategies that will get them to cross the finish line.  Second, teach your children to cease focusing on being “right or wrong” or “winning or losing.” 


  • Again the focus is on running and completing the race.  In this case, that means to leave the encounter alive and intact.  Our young people must want to understand that the larger group, in seeking to achieve a level of physical safety and emotional security, have designated a specific “class of individuals” over which to exercise authority, power and control in their (larger group) external environment.

  • If the focus is on proving who is right or wrong, winning or losing arguments or, even winning the struggle may result in losing a life or sustaining an injury.  However, if the focus is on “getting to the finish line,” then work to develop strategies that will allow your children to effectively disengage the conflict and avoid a violent encounter.  


Question:  Young people are headstrong and may not want to listen to what I (parent/responsible adult) have to say.  “What do I do?” “How do I get my son/daughter to listen to me?”


Response:  It appears you may be responding to “parental frustration,” which foundation is based on uncontrolled or unmanaged fear.  As parents, we must want to begin the process of cease “controlling or managing” the fear and work to “let go” of the fear. 


It is true that many young people think or feel that they, and not their elders, “know” what “is right” in the world they live in every day.  It may be that they chose to listen to their own inner voice rather than to the wisdom “offered” by the parent/responsible adult.


Learn to “swim or go with the current instead of against it.” 


  • Encourage your adolescent/young adult to “listen” to the “psychological self,” i.e., inner voice.

  • Encourage your young person to utilize the following model (which was written earlier in another At the Crossroads: “Fear & the Parent…My child, My child…Lord, Please Protect My Child.”  The model being “The Five R’s of RELIEF.

  • In utilizing this model, the young person can institute “transformation” in a timely manner.


RELIEF can begin/occur or be completed in a time span ranging from a few minutes to an undetermined period.  The factors of such will depend on the variables of time, place of occurrence of the incident and the individual involved.


Consequently, the model of RELIEF can be implemented in the following steps:

  • Respite– is a short pause, delay or cessation for a time, especially of anything distressing, difficult or unpleasant.  Here the individual takes a step “aside” and enters a psychological state of rest and relaxation.

  • Reaction-is the individual’s ability to internalize physically and mentally the external stimuli.  Here the individual must want to “own” the reaction.  Ownership must be “wanted “by the individual.  The reaction belongs to the individual and must not be shared with the external world.

  • Reflection-is the individual’s ability to absorb within, to calmly turn into the depth of thought and feelings.  Here the individual seeks to process (i.e., integration of thoughts and psychological self) that is associated with the incident which triggered (activated) the fear.  In doing so the individual seeks to come to terms with the self and in doing so “balance” one’s reaction.

  • Response-is an answer or reply, as in words or in action.  Here the individual “shares” with the external world his/her answer to the external stimuli, which triggered (activated) the fear.  As stated earlier, the individual must want to ensure that the response and reaction are not the same.  This would imply remaining in the state of “reflection” until “balance” has been achieved.  In doing so the individual maintains ownership (reaction) and shares (response) to the external world.

  • Reevaluation-is a formal or informal assessment or examination of something with the possibility or intention of instituting change.  Here the individual takes “a critical appraisal” of the incident, the emotion/feeling of fear that was triggered (activated) and how such as impacted his/her worldview.

Concluding Remarks

It is clear that the pressures associated with parenting the ethnic minority adolescent/young adult can be at times challenges and other times overwhelming in the struggle to either keep them safe or prepare them to enter a world that is often judgmental if not clearly hostile towards them due to either their complexion, color and/or gender.  To reduce parental stress, the ethnic minority parent is encouraged to change his/her view on how to assist the adolescent/young adult.

This can be achieved in the following manner:

  • Revise one’s conceptualization of respect and trust for “law and order”.   Teach your children to maintain “respect” for those who enforce the law and maintain order, but to know their rights.

  • As your children enter the stages of development of adolescence and young adulthood, assist them to revise and understand that “trust” is “earned” and not simply given away.

  • Assist them to understand that the “safety net” is trust that is earned on an individual basis and not be extended to a designated group or profession. 

  • Seek teach and model empowerment strategies; “The Five R’s of RELIEF.

  • Encourage the adolescent/young adult to change his/her focus from obtaining “power” (external- authority, power, control to seeking empowerment and internal-growth, development, reinforcement of self-esteem).

  • Role modeling, mentorship and examples are ways in which to encourage young people.  Learn the steps associated with the model Five R’s for RELIEF.  Teach and model the behavior to your adolescent/young adult.

  • End the stigma of “parental isolation.”  Join with other parents of ethnic minority adolescents/young adults.  Share your concerns.  You will find that you are not alone.


“Go slow and steady….cross the finish line.  Finish the race.”- Dr. Micheal Kane


Stay tuned in for the next crossroads… The journey continues…


Wanting More: When Achieving Acceptance, Commitment & Trust In An Intimate Relationship Is Still Not Enough

Dear Visible Man,

I am writing about my relationship.  Although I was born of African-American parents in the Pacific Northwest, my values are firmly rooted in the South.  As such, I was raised in the church.  I think it’s time for me to get married, but it is important to me that I wed a man who shares my Christian values.

My boyfriend says that he’s a Christian, but he doesn’t go to church.  I worry about his salvation and want more for him regarding his spiritual walk with the Lord.

I want him to attend church with me on a regular basis.  He is willing to go, but he wants to go when he feels like going.  I have waited a long time for a man of Christian values to come into my life.

What is the likelihood of getting him to change his mind?

Waiting For A Sign,

Tacoma WA

Dear Waiting,

Given the serious nature of your concerns, as well as the importance of this next stage in your life, I would ask that you review your reasoning for wanting to seek marriage with this specific individual.  I raise this question due to the fact that in the United States, first time marriages have a high rate of divorce– about 40 to 50%.  This rate is higher in specific communities, and for African-Americans, the divorce rate is 70%.

It is true that no one gets married for the purpose of seeking a divorce.  However, it is essential to understand the pitfalls we consciously and unconsciously create through our expectations and bring into the martial relationship.

But first, I want to clarify the issues you seek to address:

  • You have a strong spiritual and religious foundation rooted in your family and cultural beliefs.   You are seeking a marital relationship in which your mate shares similar beliefs.
  •  Although your boyfriend shares your beliefs, he does not share your commitment to regularly attend church services.
  •  You are concerned for him and want more for him as this relates to his spiritual walk.
  •  You are questioning the likelihood of him changing his mind regarding his beliefs.

Rather than address my responses to him, I would prefer to have you look within yourself.  If indeed you are choosing to marry him for the person that he is, then:

  •  Why are you working to change his beliefs?
  • If you are indeed satisfied with your spiritual walk, why can’t you be satisfied with his?

Utilizing the ACT Model (Acceptance, Commitment, and Trust), let’s shed light on these concerns.  Ask yourself the following questions:

  •  If I accept him as who he is and what joy he can bring to the marital relationship, why is it important for him to change to accommodate my beliefs?
  •   If I want to hold to my beliefs of marrying a person who has the same beliefs as I do, why am I unwilling to terminate this relationship that clearly does not equal the standards that I am seeking?
  •   Do I have hidden agendas, hopes or aspirations?   Will he change his ways of thinking following the marriage?  How will I feel if he does not change?

If we think of acceptance as defined as the action or process of finding something or someone adequate or suitable or the willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation, ask yourself the following questions:

  •  As there are no restrictions being placed on how I choose to worship, why am I unwilling to extend the same rights to my partner?
  •  As I want more for him, why am I unwilling to accept how he views or what he wants for himself?

If a commitment, in its basic form, is a “a pledge to do” and he in fact stands before God, family and friends stating something similar to the following:

I take thee, to be my lawful wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health to love and cherish, till death do us part…

Then ask yourself the following:

  •  Why does it matter if he chooses to worship in his way as you worship in yours?

If trust can be defined as the “belief that someone is reliable, good, and honest,” then ask yourself the following:

  • In this walk with God, what am I truly seeking?
  • If indeed my prayers for the person I seek has been answered, why am I focused on changing this person?

It is possible that instead of coming to terms regarding what– or in this situation, who— stands in front of you, ready to make a lifelong commitment, you may view this person as a “project,” and therefore, feel compelled to make improvements.  In doing this, you run the risk of your mate changing into a person that you now dislike and/or resent, and the feeling will likely be mutual.

Have the willingness to cease “living in fear” of his salvation and work on wanting to “live with fear” of the path he has chosen.  Have belief, faith and trust in the person you have chosen to marry. Embrace your fears.  If you feel the need to change something about him, be honest with your mate as well with yourself.

Flip Wilson, as his legendary character Geraldine, would always say, “What you see is what you get.”   It is human nature to want more and not to settle for less, but in the journey of life, let us focus on the experience and not the destination.    Have the willingness to accept what the other brings to the relationship.  If this is not the person you want to be with, then have the willingness to let go and move on; leaving the individual exactly the way he or she was found.

In your writing, you indicated that you have waited a long time for a man of Christian values to come into your life.  Given this, I leave you with the Five Ws of Waiting:

“If it is worth while waiting for, then it was worth the wait.”

The Visible Man

Justice Too Long Delayed Is Justice Denied

The quote “Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied,” generally attributed to William Ewart Gladstone, refers to the belief that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all.

Martin Luther King used the phrase in 1963 altering it to “Justice too long delayed is justice denied” in his notable writing, Letters From Birmingham Jail.  The addition of the words “too long” alludes to the idea that equality has always been promised, but if it is delivered in a timeframe that is not conducive to the impacted group, it is just as useless as not having been delivered at all.

It is during the celebration of Black History Month for the year 2014 that I reflect on this observation through the story of George Stinney, Jr.

In 1944, George Stinney, Jr, a 14 year old African-American boy, was sent to the electric chair by order of the state of South Carolina.  Stinney, called “Junior”, is the youngest person to be executed in the United States of America in the last century.

Junior was convicted of killing two white girls, ages 8 and 11,  in a trial that lasted barely two hours in one day, including jury selection and deliberation.   Junior’s court appointed attorneys called no witnesses.  The all-white, all male jury deliberated for ten minutes prior to reaching the verdict of guilty.

In 2014, Junior’s family, including his sisters, petitioned to re-open his case, and that case is currently being argued in the South Carolina Third Circuit court. The family’s goal is to clear Junior’s name, and to shed light on the shortcomings of his trial, including the fact that:

  • There was no physical evidence that Junior had committed these murders.  The sole evidence presented was the circumstantial fact that the girls had spoken with Junior and his sister prior to their murders.
  • Three police officers testified that Junior had confessed to the murders, but did not make written record of the confession.
  •  Junior’s court-appointed defense counsel was a tax commissioner seeking advancement in an upcoming election, which gave him no incentive to defend an African-American alleged killer.
  •  Junior’s defense counsel did not challenge the testimony of the police officers who testified to the confession, despite this being the only evidence presented by the prosecution.
  •  Junior at trial denied confessing to the crime.
  •  Junior’s sister indicated she was with him at the time of the murders, but she was never questioned by the police, prosecutor or the defense counsel or called as a witness.
  • Junior’s defense counsel did not call any witnesses.

On the day that Junior was executed:

  •   Junior walked to the execution chamber with a Bible under his arm.  The Bible was later used as a booster seat in the electric chair.
  •  Due to his size (5 foot 2 inches or 157 cm) and weight (90 pounds or 40 kg), his executioners had difficulties securing him to the frame holding the electrodes.
  • The adult size facemask did not fit him, falling off following the first 2,400 volts surge of electricity through his body.
  •  After two more jolts of electricity totaling 2400 volts, Junior was declared dead four minutes following the initial jolt.
  •  From the time of the murders until Junior’s death, eighty-one days had passed.

The impact on Junior’s family and the community was palpable:

  • Following Junior’s arrest, his father was fired from his job.
  • Junior’s parents and siblings were given the choice of leaving town or being lynched.
  • The family was forced to flee, leaving Junior alone with no support during his 81-day confinement, trial and execution.
  • Due to laws of racial segregation, African-Americans were not allowed in the courtroom.

Concluding Words- Dr. Kane

There is currently a motion before the South Carolina Supreme Court to obtain a “posthumous pardon” for Junior.  The motion alleges the following:

  • There is no transcript of the trial.
  • There was no evidence presented to the jury.
  • New evidence is being introduced, including:
  • Witness testimony from Junior’s sister, who  will provide testimony regarding Junior’s whereabouts at the time of the murders.
  •  Additional non-family witness testimony attesting to Junior’s whereabouts at the time of the murders.
  •  An alternative person, now deceased, has been advanced as a possible suspect. There is evidence that this person made a deathbed confession.
    •  The suspect is rumored to have come from a well-known, prominent white family.
    •  It is rumored that a member or members of that family served on the coroner’s inquest jury that recommended that Junior be prosecuted for the murders.

It is unclear whether any of the rumors are true.  There are factors that clearly indicate that there was no factual evidence in convicting a 14 year-old boy of these crimes.  It is clear that the two white families suffered in the loss of their little girls.

However, in this tragedy, there are lessons we can learn.  Mankind can learn how to love each other and “forgive the self” for the damage, death and psychological destruction that was caused.


Whereas man may not, God truly loves.

It was God who opened his loving arms and welcomed him home.

My mother, Mary Williamson Kane, used to say “God only wants roses in his garden. “

Junior, you are a rose.  Be at rest.  Rest in Peace.

Until the next journey…..