I have a lot of opinions about what has been going on in Baltimore regarding the death of Freddie Gray. The notion that a person can exchange a supposed “glance ” with the police, then take off running and end up with “three fractured vertebrae and a crushed voice box” is enough to send shivers down the back of anyone imagining the injuries and absolute fear as to just what happened to cause the injuries.
I, too, saw the video of Toya Graham, the mother of young Michael Singleton, who was out at the protest in Baltimore getting ready to throw a brick at the police when she saw him and proceeded to intervene to get her son to go home. I watched the tape a number of times and unlike those whose response has been just the kneejerk reaction of either “cheers” or “jeers,” what I saw was a mother who first pulled at her son. She then proceeds to slap him upside his head — three times. Her son pulls away and when she catches up with him, she is pleading and talking at him to make him think. She also tries as he walks away to pull the mask off of his face and continues hollering and cussing at him as he reluctantly heads home. I found myself on the pro-Toya side of the fence. Had it been my son out there getting ready to throw bricks at the armed police, I know I would have done the same thing. I know the worry a mother has when her child could be putting him or herself in danger and the instinct that comes along to reach out and try and save that child.
What has been most distressing has been the reaction of some black folks to the video — from calling Toya names to a lot of wannabes posting videos where they lambast her, not a single one of them has walked in her shoes. As she has repeatedly told the media, Michael is her only son and she was doing what she could to try and keep him as “safe” as a Mama can in the environment they live in. I watched as many of the videos as I could find where Michael spoke and it is obvious that he knows his mother loves and cares for him. Can we get more Toya-type mothers who will rein in their children from their destructive ways as opposed to the ones who profess they have done “all they could” while lying between their teeth?!
I also found myself conflicted over the latest controversy that the word “thug” equals “nigga” or any derivative thereof. Everyone has been calling out both President Obama and the mayor of Baltimore for describing those engaged in the riots as “thugs.” I understand that some of the young people in Baltimore are angry at the police. I understand all the things they are going through because this current economic environment is hard on the majority of Americans.
But par for the course, the subject of Freddie Gray and what happened to him is sidelined by other, less meaningful, conversations. Well, I have a simple criterion for whether or not “thug” equals “nigga.” When the rappers begin replacing their use of “nigga” with “thug,” then I will be convinced. Somehow I know it’s not going to happen, but I can hope and dream.
Lastly, six officers have been charged in Freddie Gray’s death. Three white, three black. We will have to wait to see what the final outcome will be. As the verdict in the trial of the officer involved in the death of Rekia Boyd showed, charging the police doesn’t mean justice will get served.