You may have heard about the brief sensation a video made when the recording of a black mother beating her teenage son went viral.
The 50-second video, soon broadcast on CBS and CNN, was shot the day of Freddie Gray’s funeral in April, when hundreds of Baltimore residents rioted in protest of his death after he sustained a spinal injury while in police custody. It’s received more than 8 million views. The woman in the video is Toya Graham, then 42, a single parent to five girls. That day she said she spied a rock in the hand of 16-year-old Michael, her only son.
What makes this clip as crushing to watch as many of the videos of police beatings – and killings – of unarmed black men and boys, according to an essayist at Talkingpointsmemo.com, is that so many black parents feel the need to discipline their kids out of fear. What kind of fear? That their sons or daughters, but mostly sons, will give police ANY kind of reason to stop them, arrest them, beat them, or even kill them.
The day of the Freddie Gray riot, Doaty-Mundell says, she graduated Brown-Scott and eleven other parents from a parenting class. She says that because of racism, black parents struggle with letting their children explore and, as a result, tend to stifle children’s natural tendency to discover their environment. “We tend to parent out of fear,’” says Doaty-Mundell. “We don’t want our children to do this so we parent off of that, versus ‘I want you to do this so I’m going to expose you to this.’”
Go read the essay at TPM. It’s one of the best analyses of the kinds of pressures black parents of all economic groups face. In the words of one black author, whose father beat him, he could almost hear his father’s thoughts: either I beat him or the police will.