by Patricia L. Dickson 5/4/15
When the video went viral of Baltimore mother Toya Graham hitting her knuckleheaded son about the head for participating in the Baltimore riots, most Americans praised her for her motherly love and instincts. Ms. Graham stated in an interview in so many words that she loved her son and did not want him to end up like Freddie Gray (the young man at the center of all the rioting), in the back of a police van.
One would think that any sensible, rational person would conclude from the video that this mother loved her son and wanted to remove him from danger (even if it meant beating him upside the head). However, Stacey Patton, a writer at The Washington Post, has another perspective on the video and the mother’s actions. In her article, she concludes that Ms. Graham’s actions did not stem from love and the desire to protect her son, but originated from white supremacy.
The kind of violent discipline Graham unleashed on her son did not originate with her, or with my adoptive mother who publicly beat me when I was a child, or with the legions of black parents who equate pain with protection and love. The beatings originated with white supremacy, a history of cultural and physical violence that devalues black life at every turn. From slavery through Jim Crow, from the school-to-prison pipeline, the innocence and protection of black children has always been a dream deferred.
Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.
An individual would have to be out of his or her mind to come to such a conclusion after viewing the video. I have read comments under the video on several websites (both liberal and conservative), and the majority have been positive praises for the single mother. Most people unite and agree (regardless of race and politics) when it comes to a mother’s love for her child. Yet Ms. Patton is able to attribute the praises that have been heaped on this mother to racism:
Praising Graham distracts from a hard truth: It doesn’t matter how black children behave – whether they throw rocks at the police, burn a CVS, join gangs, walk home from the store with candy in their pocket, listen to rap music in a car with friends, play with a toy gun in a park, or simply make eye contact with a police officer – they risk being killed and blamed for their own deaths because black youths are rarely viewed as innocent or worthy of protection.
What is so disturbing is that white supremacy is let off the hook. A militarized and racist police force is not the problem. Systemic racism — from the War on Drugs to racial profiling, from hyper segregation to community divestment — is not the issue. The message becomes: Black children’s behavior is the true enemy of peace.
Ms. Patton takes her lunacy further by claiming that disciplining black children will not keep them safe from police. She references the recent deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and other young blacks as examples. By downplaying the effectiveness of discipline, she is able to let black parents off the hook and place blame on white police officers and white America’s supposed inherent racism. Furthermore, she failed to mention in her article how these individuals ended up in a confrontation with police to begin with. By omitting the sequence of events that led to the deaths of Martin, Brown, and others, she is able to further the narrative that innocent blacks are constantly being pursued and killed by racist white cops:
If there were an easy way to keep black children safe from police, out of prisons, morgues and graves, we would not have spent the past three years in an almost endless cycle of grieving the loss of young black people: Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Rekia Boyd, Jordan Davis, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray and . . . and . . . and . . . The list is too long to fit into my word count.
There is a tried-and-true easy way to keep children (regardless of race) safe from police. It is called discipline. It worked with my friends, my cousins, my siblings, and me. I remember my parents saying to me right before whipping my behind, “I am whipping you so that the police want have to.”
Leftist journalist Joan Walsh, Salon editor-at-large, weighed in with her absurd perspective behind the praise of Ms. Graham:
The debate over the moment Graham says she “lost it” is complex. There’s a parallel black debate going on that, as always when it comes to racial issues, is richer and more nuanced. But anyone white who’s applauding Graham’s moment of desperation, along with the white media figures who are hyping her “heroism,” is essentially justifying police brutality, and saying the only way to control black kids is to beat the shit out of them.
The events in Baltimore are causing liberals to bend over backward to find a way to blame white America and excuse the black leadership. With the mayor, state’s attorney, police chief, and city council president being black, as well as three of the police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, it is difficult to blame white cops and racism. Nevertheless, Cherrell Brown, identified as a community organizer, made the following absurd pronouncement to Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC:
I want to mention two things — I think it’s so ingrained that you don’t have to have a white person around to have white supremacy play out.”
Patricia Dickson blogs at Patricia’s Corner.
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