Why do nice people do bad things?

Kyle Hightower

W.E.B. DuBois once said “…through history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars and die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness.”

I am reminded of these profound words as I think about a call I received one morning from my mother.

Granted I knew something was up because my mom only calls me early in the morning for one reason. It always goes the same:

Mom: “Hi, baby. How are you?”

Me: “I’m fine, mom, just woke up.”

Mom: “One of your high school classmates is in the news again.”

Me: “Oh, gosh. What happened”

Mom: “Do you remember (insert name)? He was arrested for killing (insert circumstances).”

Me: “Dang. Are you serious?”

Mom: “I know.”

Since my junior year of high school and in the three years since I’ve graduated I can count five times in which a person I graduated with or was supposed to graduate with was involved or accused in the death of another person.

Only this time, it was different. Yes, it was a classmate and yes, they are accused of killing another individual. But it is the person at issue this time which has me perplexed.

The previous instances of my former classmates in severe trouble with the law involved individuals who came from challenging backgrounds and were involved in somewhat questionable lifestyles.

And they were also, at best, just acquaintances. This most recent person, who was accused of killing his girlfriend at Murray State University, sat at my lunch table back in the day. As you know, to share a lunch table with someone put them in your quasi-clique. We talked, interacted and even laughed on occasion.

This guy was our football manager, school mascot and was voted, get this, “Most School Spirit” of our senior class. He had a supportive father and family structure, and yet he will probably be in prison for the next 15-20 years accused of killing his girlfriend of three years.

Does this not freak anybody else out? I wonder two things. What is wrong with my classmates and what is to be learned from this kind of stuff?

I’m clueless. But I think of DuBois and fallen stars. I think about what you can possibly do when “good guys” are found to have fault. Granted, the circumstances and reasoning behind this whole thing are yet to be determined. I just hope that in the end perhaps it is all a misunderstanding.

The truth of the matter is that I am almost in many ways worried about what could possibly be next. I shake my head whenever anybody I know is involved in shady dealings of any sort.

But when the person with the “Most School Spirit” in my class is looking at prison for at least 15 years I instantly run to my DuBois looking for answers about the souls of my black folks.

Kyle Hightower is a senior print journalism major from Paducah.

This commentary does not reflect the views of the Herald, Western or its administration.