Toya Graham reprimands her son for taking part in the riots
When the video went viral of Baltimore mother Toya Graham hitting her knuckleheaded son about the head for participating in the Baltimore riots, most Americans praised her for her motherly love and instincts. Ms. Graham stated in an interview in so many words that she loved her son and did not want him to end up like Freddie Gray (the young man at the center of all the rioting), in the back of a police van.
One would think that any sensible, rational person would conclude from the video that this mother loved her son and wanted to remove him from danger (even if it meant beating him upside the head). However, Stacey Patton, a writer at The Washington Post, has another perspective on the video and the mother’s actions. In her article, she concludes that Ms. Graham’s actions did not stem from love and the desire to protect her son, but originated from white supremacy.
The kind of violent discipline Graham unleashed on her son did not originate with her, or with my adoptive mother who publicly beat me when I was a child, or with the legions of black parents who equate pain with protection and love. The beatings originated with white supremacy, a history of cultural and physical violence that devalues black life at every turn. From slavery through Jim Crow, from the school-to-prison pipeline, the innocence and protection of black children has always been a dream deferred.