This country is young, very young and has many issues still to contend with. Racism, ignorance, hatred, intolerance are just some of the things that I have witnessed over the years of living here. Lately these have surfaced and been front and center in the news media consistently. It breaks my heart into a million pieces as I think this country is unique in her offerings. I have lived in many countries, (Great Britain, France, Israel) and here we have the opportunity to grow and prosper no matter what your background, color or race is.
That said the week before last I was at the nail salon I have frequented for the past 15 years, a small family owned and run business, by a Vietnamese family. Lisa the owner was prepping my nails when the news came on and together we watched as a mother recognized her son in an ongoing riot. She proceeded to grab her son out of said riot and drag him off down the street while berating him and delivering several smacks/slaps/blows to his head and upper body.
We were sitting there, two mothers watching this unravel on television. I turned to Lisa and said ” My mother would have done the same thing to me, and probably given me several more hits than what he just received.” Lisa then said “Mine would have taken a switch and beaten me all the way back to the house.” We also agreed that if we saw our children participating in such an act, that we too would hold our children accountable for their actions. We both agreed that we may not hit them, but certainly NOT leave them there to carry on what they were doing. They would have been taken home, one way or another.
That was the end of the conversation and each of us went about our business for the rest of the day. It wasn’t until the next day, that this mothers actions seemed to be everywhere, on every news media outlet possible. There were hashtags, praising her and newscasters singing her praises. This mother was soon becoming the hero, in an otherwise horrid day. Yet as the day wore on, people started to tear her down, and berate her actions.
One article in particular caught my eye, from a woman who took offense to the way in which this mother had engaged, and treated her son. Why is America celebrating the beating of a black child? I took another look at said video, and yes this mother does hit her child (beat) as she drags him from the crowd. Is this right? No, I do not condone any person laying hands on another person unless it is to defend ones self. This mother seemed to be reacting to a very emotional situation. She saw an immediate threat/danger to her son and resorted to yelling, screaming, grabbing and hitting her son in order to extricate him from the situation. Was this the correct reaction, no as it doesn’t teach him how to deal with real life situations in a productive manner. I understand where this mother was coming from, as she would have rather have hit and drag her son, rather than have the authorities in the area do this. Yet this writer proceeded to go on and blame this woman’s ancestors and their masters for her behavior. I understand the point that Stacey Patton is trying to make, but think she takes it slightly to far stretching back in the history.
Again trust me I read her article several times, trying to understand where she was coming from, for lack of a better term.
When the mother Toya Graham was interviewed she explained that she saw her son, realized the situation and knew she had to act. The writer for this article, Stacey Patton; then goes on to take this answer and somehow skew this into the following “In other words, Graham’s message to America is: I will teach my black son not to resist white supremacy so he can live.” At this point I am scratching my head. Here is why, I am a mother of two teenagers, and I have friends who are mothers of teenagers. We are White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, British, American, Greek, Indian, Vietnamese and French. When I asked these mothers of teenagers if they were to be in the same situation would they have reacted in the same way? They all agreed that they would, most not to the degree that Toya Graham did, but none the less their teenager would not have been participating in a riot, after their mother had realized what they were up to. I do understand what Toya Graham stated, in trying to save her child from becoming another statistic.
So if us mothers who are living here from all of these other countries and nationalities would have a similar reaction as Toya Graham, then the question arises: Why would Stacey Patton assume that Toya Grahams actions arise from being black and teaching her son not to resist white supremacy? I asked myself if anything Toya Graham was holding her son accountable to his choice and actions at that moment. Toya Graham was saving her son from becoming a statistic, we as mothers would have done the same.
It was a mother seeing her child do something wrong, and holding them accountable for their actions. When I asked my friends if this statement were true, they agreed that it was, and that is what all of us parents mothers/fathers do on a daily basis. We hold our children accountable so that one day the children that we are raising become respectable, responsible citizens of the community.
Each of us should hold each other to the same, equal accountability; nothing more, nothing less. EQUAL. I think that we can all agree no matter our race, culture, ethnicity, or background that we all want to be treated equally.
She goes on to state that the video suggests that black youth are problematic, and that there is a lack of a father figure and all that is needed is an angry black mother. Again, WHAT???? Where and how does she come up with this from the 1:27 minutes of video.
She states that this video lets white supremacy off the hook and brings the blame back to black youth. Here she looses me again. Yes there is a problem in this country, yes there is racism, hatred, ignorance and intolerance in this country. I have seen it, been a part of it and I will stand up to it any time it raises its ugly head.
I think that Stacey Patton took this video and tried to turn it into something that it just isn’t. She tried to make it a platform on which to voice the belief that this woman beat her son in order to save him from a racist society. When in actuality this “mother” held her teenage son accountable for his actions, just like any other parent might do. She then goes on to suggest that Toya Graham publicly humiliated her son, in order to keep him alive, and references a news story from 1893 in which a black mother lynches her son. Here I think she is really stretching it. She is reaching back in history and stating that blacks back then beat their children harshly so that their white masters would not do the same, and that in some way this mother was doing the same. I just don’t see it that way, and it never occurred to me to view it that way. I just saw a mother witness her child doing something wrong, and holding him accountable. Yes Toya Graham states that she did it to save him, but I think she was saving him from the consequences of his actions.
Stacey Patton then goes on to state that black parents have the talk with there children about survival tips when being confronted by white authority. This is interesting as I know many parents have had this talk with their teens, us included. When our daughter received her drivers license, you bet we spoke with her about how to behave if she were to be pulled over by the police. When we let her start to stay out late and hang with her friends, again we spoke about how she were to act if she were stopped by the police. This is just common sense, along with the talk you have with your child about sex.
*Please note that I do know from speaking with friends who live in Florida, and other parts of the United States that there are grave concerns for our black youth and when they engage with authority. Our daughters have friends who are black, and when they leave our house late at night I always remind them to be on their best behavior. If they have long boarded over to our house, I will drive them home. As one of her best friends told me about an incident when he was stopped and questioned just for walking down the street, after that I drove him home. I was disgusted to hear this, as he was doing nothing wrong, just going home!
I saw a mother confronted by a situation in which she understood the gravity of her child’s actions and she took immediate action to extricate him from the situation, and also hold him accountable to his choices that day and his actions.Tweet This
I also know the fear that mothers have for their children as they go out into society, I have made it no secret that our oldest is gay. She has received hate, and this past week I wrote about her first experience with violent gay hate. As parents we do our best to empower, educate, and develop a respectable, responsible citizen. I think that this is what Toya Graham was trying to achieve that day, nothing more or less.