The current Baltimore riots are counterproductive but grabbed our attention for three reasons—1) the continued harm to black prisoners, 2) the threat of anarchy that riots can hold and 3) the inability of “safe” black people including the USA President to corral the anger in black communities except for the actions of one black mother who publicly took control of her son.
On April 27, 2015 during the Baltimore riots, one Ms. Tonya Graham sensed her son Michael would be in the ensuing melee, went to the crowd where she identified her son, publicly extracted him from the hopeless mentality of many gathered and whopped him upside the head and upper body. When I saw her I wanted to shout it is about time that black parents took back control of their children from the streets and from government agencies feeding us a lot of nonsense about the rights of kids with a need for their free expression and self-governance instead of requiring parents to be responsible for and raise their own children.
There is no fine line between child abuse and discipline for all of us who have been spanked, whipped or physically disciplined know it is coming, what we did and either not to get caught or not to commit the offensive act again. Some do permanently hurt the child and that is abuse. But knocking some sense in their heads while knocking the fool out of them is not what was the issue. Laws leaning in favor of the child and against the parents right to discipline their children go against biblical teachings of spare the rod, spoil the child. The therapy, which may help, is beyond the pocketbook of most when what is needed is first to deal with the behavior.
Watching Ms. Graham follow the Gap Bands dictate from the 1979 song, “Oops Upside Your Head” struck close to home. The Hip-hop generation parents quickly are appreciating that time outs, going to ones room and much of this new age feel good malarkey doesn’t work for childhood recalcitrant behavior.
My oldest son occasionally has me in stitches talking about the time I beat his behind in the hallway of his school for I had been called away from my job one too many times to deal with his foolishness. I admonished the school to call social services if they liked, but if they came they’d better be prepared to take him with them for as long as he stayed with me, he must follow my rules if he lived in my house. His Star of David tattoo wasn’t because we were Jewish but because he was undergoing ‘Gangsta Disciples’ initiation of which I was having none of it. I was trying to spare my sons life as was Ms. Graham against forces not all see and which many aren’t often realistically confronting.
Bill Hannity’s negative comments about this mother’s six children by different men vividly points out the conservative disconnect with the fabric of people’s lives and our willingness to label children so born as illegitimate or not worthy of our consideration in the larger scheme of things. All God’s children are legitimate and worthy of our support.
When Ms. Graham told her son to look her in the eye I was proud of her for making him stand up to her like a man and face the music. She is a mother on the right path with her son and we need to help find ways to be supportive of her efforts.
Education will be the key to unlocking the doors of opportunity for our youth. Our Historically Black Colleges and Universities have been vital to such efforts and need our support as we try to inculcate our kids with the right values of the larger society. These institutions know what to do with young black males if we can keep their doors open and get them admitted.