Toya Graham, the mother who publicly disciplined her son has been praised by everyone from the Baltimore chief of police to Oprah for doing so.
The flip side of the praise for Graham is out comes the critics putting her on blast for laying hands on her unruly son.
Many have dubbed Graham “Mom Of The Year.” She was even praised by the Baltimore Police commissioner, who said, “I wish I had more parents that took charge of their kids out there tonight.”
Since this story broke, however, I’ve been trying to think of another situation in which publicly whaling on a child would be met with such praise. Would we say the same if the child being hit was a girl or if Graham were white? It’s a reminder that, seemingly, one of the last acceptable forms of violence in America is when a parent hits a child.
On the one hand, it’s uncomfortable and unfair to judge a woman with six kids, living in a poor community, wracked by violence and police brutality, who is rightly worried about her child’s safety.
But that doesn’t make her actions right, and it doesn’t excuse those who are bizarrely holding her up as a parenting model.
Yet, violence as discipline is spectacularly counterproductive. Spanking a child — no less the head slaps delivered by Ms. Graham — increases aggression. It leads to anti-social behavior, causes anxiety, increases susceptibility to mental illness, and may have long-term cognitive effects.
Oh, bullshit! Fuck you, Michael Cohen!
It’s not surprising that a black mother in Baltimore who chased down, cursed and beat her 16-year-old son in the middle of a riot has been called a hero. In this country, when black mothers fulfill stereotypes of mammies, angry and thwarting resistance to a system designed to kill their children, they get praised.
“He gave me eye contact,” Toya Graham told CBS News. “And at that point, you know, not even thinking about cameras or anything like that — that’s my only son and at the end of the day, I don’t want him to be a Freddie Gray. Is he the perfect boy? No he’s not, but he’s mine.”
In other words, Graham’s message to America is: I will teach my black son not to resist white supremacy so he can live.
This celebration of Graham reflects a belief that black youths are inherently problematic, criminal and out of control. The video also supports the idea that black fathers are absent, suggesting that all we need is an angry black mom to beat the “thug” out of an angry young man – and everything will be fine.
And remember Black kids, you too can resist White Supremacy by throwing a rock against a heavily armed cop! It’s easy and fun! Unless you get shot, then maybe not so much.
Salon’s Joan Walsh, their in-house expert on White Liberal Guilt, didn’t scorch Graham as personally as Cohen and Patton, but smacked around other Whites for applauding Graham’s actions:
The hypocrisy of the white mainstream applauding Graham is sickening. Let’s be honest: many white folks are reflexive critics of the greater frequency of corporal punishment in the black community. Witness the media horror at Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson beating his young son. If Graham beat her child like that in the aisles of CVS, you can be sure somebody would call CPS.
I don’t fault CBS for interviewing Graham. She’s a “newsmaker,” and I’d talk to her in a heartbeat. But the way the network hyped its “get” falls into the category of white media applauding a black woman for beating up her son. As though that’s the only way to discipline a black child.
As someone who has raised (and disciplined) two Black children, I can reassure Walsh, striking them is not the only way. Every method White parents use to discipline and correct the behavior of their children, Black parents use those methods too, including making physical contact with a misbehaving child. The difference being White kids get away with stuff that gets Black kids buried.
I wasn’t surprised by Professor Patton’s completely condescending column. A little disgusted, but not surprised when the “We Are Respectable Negroes” types come out to look down their noses at those lower class colored folks they consider poor representatives of the race. Patton throws some vicious shade at Patton for upbraiding her son as telling him to genuflect to the throne of White supremacy but what do you call an educated, articulate and accomplished Black woman publicly talking trash about another Black woman who isn’t as accomplished, articulate or educated in a White publication like the Post? Isn’t that bowing down and kissing the ass of White supremacy?
I find pretentious, bourgeois intellectualism among the Black elite every bit as off-putting as crass, buffoonish ignorance from the Black masses and both are equally embarrassing. However, there was nothing the least bit embarrassing about Mama Graham going upside her son’s head. I don’t want to hear Graham was violent toward her son. If that’s what it takes to keep him in school, out of jail or the morgue, more power to her.
Children are supposed to bury their parents, not the other way around the way like it is for too many Black families. Families like Freddie Gray’s and if that’s problematic to Mr. Cohen, Miss Patton and Miss Walsh, I don’t care. If Michael ended up on a slab with a toe tag because he got shot for throwing rocks at the cops, or looting a store, or burning down an old folks home and got arrested, Cohen, Patton and Walsh aren’t going to be the ones coming up with his bail or bury him for screwing around where he had no business being.
These academic and journalistic nosy-ass busy bodies should mind their own damn business. Not one of them is offering to help Graham raise her kids. Would any of the fine folks who find Graham’s actions so detestable and “hard to watch” would be willing to bail her son out of jail after he was arrested for looting or throwing rocks at a cop or bury him if he was shot by one? Would those willing to condemn how Toya disciplined Michael be equally willing to contribute to his funeral?
Maybe she embarrassed Michael because she fronted on him in public, but that’s fair since he fronted on her first. If more parents paid attention to what their kids were and were not doing, maybe we wouldn’t be talking (or rather not talking) about how our kids are at risk.
Toya Graham deserves respect, not scorn, for trying to save her son. It’s not as if anybody else White OR Black is lining up to do the job.