Toya Graham didn’t just smack some sense into her son as he headed out to participate in the Baltimore rioting Tuesday morning; she smacked some sense into the rest of us too.
In a brief and jumpy video that began circulating on social media Tuesday morning, Graham is seen grabbing her son, who is dressed in black sweat pants, hoodie and mask. Smacking the sides of his hooded head while loudly dressing him down for thinking he would join in “this nonsense,” Graham moves him away from the police line, presumably toward their home, directing him to “come here and take that [expletive] off” and smacking him when he does not appear to be listening.
With her bright yellow top and diminutive stature, Graham swoops and drives like an angry bird, an Easter chick gone wild. The son, to his credit, doesn’t put up much of a fight, which makes the imagery instantly funny, like those old silent movies in which a tiny woman chases off a marauder with a broom. But in the video’s final moments, the son’s mask slips and it’s not quite so funny any more because clearly he’s just a kid.
A big, tall kid, 16 years old, who was about to make a mistake.
Suddenly, Graham’s antic fury and profanity weren’t funny any more. Suddenly, she was Every Mom calling on her last reserve to keep her teenage child from doing something from which no good could come, something that might prove fatal or otherwise irreversible. Suddenly, too, she was every outraged citizen of Baltimore who watched mobs burn already beleaguered neighborhoods and wondered, “What is wrong with you?”
More than that, though, she was a reminder, a huge and crucial reminder, that those mobs are not made of up of thugs, they’re made up of people, many of whom feel perfectly justified in their anger. Just like the police force is made up of people, many of whom feel perfectly justified in their actions.
Some in each group may be criminal, others weak-willed, and all should be held responsible for their actions. But when we start thinking of any group in terms other than the distinct humanity of its members, we just make things worse.
Source: The L.A. Times | Mary McNamara