In the wake of the funeral for Freddie Gray--a young black man who, amidst charges of police brutality, died after having his neck broken while in police custody--the streets of Baltimore erupted in massive protests, often violent, which resulted in injury to both police and protesters, not to mention widespread damage from vandalism and looting.
By now you’ve no doubt seen the viral video of a concerned Baltimore mother chasing down, clawing at, grabbing and smacking her teenage son in an effort to stop him from engaging in the violence.* The video garnered not only social networking headlines, but mainstream media headlines as well, prompting the NEW YORK POST’s Wednesday (4/29/15) edition to lead with the front page headline: “Forget the National Guard. SEND IN THE MOMS.”
Response to the incident has resulted in both cheers and jeers, with some hailing her as a hero, and others indicting her as just another “stereotypical” black mom who thinks “the only way to control black kids is to beat them.”
Yet Toya Graham, a 42-year-old single mother of six, is unapologetic, saying she didn’t want her son to become “another Freddie Gray.”
"I was so angry with him that he had made a decision to do some harm to the police officers,” Graham told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. "I just lost it at that point.”
Her 16 yr old son, Michael, was no doubt mortified to be so publicly disciplined by his mother. "I was just like, 'Oh, man. What is my mother doing down here? Why would she be down here?'" he told Cooper. "But when I heard, 'Put that brick down,' I was like, 'Oh, that's my mother.'"
Yet with a little time and space to think about, he's actually come to be grateful for her intervention, later telling ABC News, “I understand how much my mother really cares about me. So I’m just going to try to do better."
Graham doesn’t see herself as a hero. “I don’t,” she said in an interview on CBS This Morning. “My intention was just to get my son and have him be safe.”
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts applauded her, saying, "I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids tonight.”
Even the Obama White House chimed in on her parental prowess and passion with press secretary Josh Earnest calling her intervention a "powerful expression about the role that parents can play."
*Click the link to source above to view the video clip of the altercation.
Whether you live in the inner city or in a mansion on a hilltop, moms are on the front lines—sometimes literally!—when it comes to teaching their kids the hard lessons of life and protecting their safety.
No doubt we’d all wish that Graham hadn’t had to engage in a physical struggle with her son. Graham herself assured concerned reporters that this was not the usual way she interacted with or disciplined her son. But what was her choice? She found herself on a battlefield. Dodging danger herself, she took desperate measures to get her son's attention and drag him from the fray. This was a mother doing what she felt she had to do to protect her son.
Moms, are you willing to do whatever you have to do to protect your children? Perhaps if more moms were, we wouldn’t have needed the National Guard after all. “Forget the National Guard. SEND IN THE MOMS!”
“Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far away” (Proverbs 22:15).
“A foolish man despises his mother” (Proverbs 15:20b).