Violent Mom

Maybe it’s just me, but I find it a little disturbing the way the news outlets are filled with happy talk about the mother boxing her sixteen-year old son’s ears and chasing him down the street in order to stop his participation in the Baltimore vandalism.

The New York Post calls her “Mother of the Year,” and the talking heads on CNN can’t heap enough praise on this ‘intervention.’  Representatives of the police appear to be particularly enthused, wishing that more parents would emulate this feisty inner-city mom.

We are told that she is a single mother with a number of children but only one son.

She looks young enough to be his sister, so it isn’t difficult to imagine her being wholly unprepared for parenthood and trapped in what any of us might find to be an impossible situation.

What TV cameras captured that day was most likely the nature of her relationship to her only son from the moment he was big enough to run away from her.  

In fact, he probably ended up throwing rocks in the street as much because of her default to brutality in raising him as any other contributing factors.

Girls tend to be a whole lot easier to manage than boys, at least when they are little; and as the only male in a household of females, this kid was probably destined to act out if only to assert himself.

When you add the critical lack of support resources, or even good nutritional options in their neighborhood, his mom must have come close to the breaking point more than once.

She maintains control over her brood, and especially her son, through the only means available to her…fear.

…And white middle American media celebrates that because it somehow makes us feel safer.

“If only more mothers would discipline their kids like this!” they say.

So now, in addition to incarcerating young black men at a feverish rate, we want their mothers to aspire to be brutal jailers, too.

Nevermind the fact that the violence and vandalism that has exploded again in Baltimore is symptomatic of systemic injustice that we have only managed to sweep under the rug since the late 1960’s so that Republicans could claim we live in a “post-racial world.”

There is real, justifiable anger simmering out there.  It’s long been relegated to the back-burner, but in 2015, it’s come to a boil again.

This kid isn’t the problem and beating him into submission isn’t the solution.  Rock-throwing won’t be anywhere near the worst violence we see in the streets if accountability in the police culture doesn’t change, and do so quickly.

We have taken absolutely no lessons away from the upsurge in ISIS recruitments.  

Republicans still think we can keep tightening the screws on minority rights and opportunities and they will never have to give up any of the wealth and privilege they themselves enjoy on an unprecedented scale.

I heard one (white) police analyst on CNN this morning discounting the role that community organizers played in suppressing violence in Baltimore last night.  He thought it was the presence of even more police and the military that did the job.  That’s the formula that fits his expectations and bias.

To afford those community members the dignity they deserved for organizing themselves into a physical blockade would be outside of his enforcement comfort zone and give them far more credit toward self-determination than it serves his best interests to do.

It’s so much easier to think of poor minorities as uncouth and undisciplined, over whom it is the right and responsibility of a deputized elite to ride herd in the interests of the tentative majority.

Keep it up and, like the mom-whipped teen, we are all destined to get what we probably deserve.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

8 thoughts on “Violent Mom

  1. if they were about to embark on destructive behavior that would have resulted in jail time, physical injury, or even death.

  2. “It’s all about property–WHITE property.”  Thank you, Sue.  You’re on the money about all this cheerleading for ‘restraint’ while police do not restrain themselves.  The White Media is so full of shit.

  3. not supported by anything, and that’s not fair to her.  


    In fact, he probably ended up throwing rocks in the street as much because of her default to brutality in raising him as any other contributing factors.


    She maintains control over her brood, and especially her son, through the only means available to her…fear.

    We’d all like to think that we raise our children correctly so they’d know not to take part in criminal activities, especially ones that might result in them getting killed.  But we also know quite clearly that the judgement of teenagers is awfully suspect, and that in the heat of the moment, a very bad decision can be made, especially if two conflicting beliefs foment together at a bad time.

    By that I mean, what if you teach your children to stand up for the little guy?  What if you teach your children to speak out against injustice?  What if you teach your child about the history of civil disobedience?  You’ve given your child a moral compass that might cause them to take action when the time comes.  

    You may also have taught your child to be non-violent, that fighting doesn’t solve anything.  All around are signs of oppression, economically and physically.  Yet you teach your child that violence isn’t the answer.

    But then everything boils over, and it’s an explosive situation.  Your child is angry, frightened, horrified, and perhaps they’ve been stopped and frisked unjustly, once, or maybe even a handful of times.  

    You see your child out there, getting ready to make their stand.  What do you do?  How do you judge others for the steps they’re going to take?  What happened next, out of the view of cameras?  Did she take him home, and talk about what was going on, and what constructive steps to take?  Or did she take him home, and whip him into submission?  These are things you don’t know, and you shouldn’t pass judgement until you do.

  4. In an interview with CBS Toya Graham said, “That’s my only son and I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray,” “Two wrongs don’t make a right, and at the end of the day I just wanted to make sure I had gotten my son home.”

    The news media has been playing this as if she objected to the demonstrations. She was just afraid that the cops would shoot her son.

    Come to think of it, I wish that some moms had intervened when mostly white mobs rioted after sporting events. (Red Sox, Broncos, Kentucky State, Penn State, Tennessee State, Canucks)  

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