Current Trends by Natasha Sapp

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This is the same reactionary, extreme parenting, public shaming, drama heavy response used over and over that never really solves anything, never getting to the core issues; if she really was the model parent, parent of the year everyone is hailing her as, had she any of the proper control over him people believe she should have, mistakenly believe she does, he wouldn’t be down there, she wouldn’t have to come get him. Was she right to remove him from a place she told him not to go, from a place that was dangerous, ripe for him to do something stupid before he did it, of course; was it ok for her to reprimand him, lecture him all the way home, probably embarrass him, sure. What is not ok is acting like a maniac, mentally unstable, PMS-ing hot mess in the course of doing so, fulfilling every stereotype about “crazy black women” trying to handle your business. What is clearly not ok is smacking him around while doing it; trying to teach children, especially teens, nothing is solved with violence while hitting them. Still the accolades online, press comments on the street are pouring in begging people to share this, wishing we had more parents like this, calling it parenting in America finally done right, calling her a mother who cares, saying their parents would have done the same thing. Multiple persons who would rather see a young man smacked around by his mother than beaten by police, utterly missing the point assuming one precludes the other. Never quite answering why there is expectation to be hit, beat at all by parent or police, anyone in between; maybe that’s the larger dynamic we need to change. More lumping rioters and protesters into one large group, quick to call any young person present a thug with no discipline who needs more treatment such as hers, whether they have thrown rocks, taunted police or not. Interestingly enough nowhere in published video do you see him do anything apart from standing on a sidewalk, diligent viewers noting he has every right to do wondering how deeply effected he will be when it comes to not protesting injustice, not standing up for what he believes in, in the future. “hate that you posted this story. And I hate that the media is talking about it like “Look at how great of a mother she is…”. I’m not saying she isn’t a great mother (I don’t know her) but if this had be any other day and someone taped her smacking her son like that, this would have been a different story. It would have been more of “look at how unfit she is….. what kind of parent does that?” and she would have all types of cases looking into her parenting skills. But because this fits the media agenda of “No one should be out there protesting & rioting” it’s all good. Sad to see you fell into that trap.” [Sic] The commenter above  commenting on one of many blog stories discussing Toya Graham’s actions as well as the destruction in Baltimore is correct too, any other set of circumstances and we would be condemning this mother, CPS would doubtlessly be involved; keeping in mind people also praised the Facebook posted beating of Demecio Powell on unsubstantiated claims he tried to join a gang even after seeing a family friend administer his “spanking” (60 some lashes with a belt) not his mother, videotaped by a convicted felon afraid to put his face out there, the 3 promptly arrested for child abuse. People supported Adrian Peterson as well despite details of leaves being put in the child’s mouth, accusations the switch hit the child’s genitals, graphic pictures showing marks days old on the 4-year-old’s arms and legs complete with a smiling smirk mug shot from Peterson. Worse now that her face has been disseminated nationally, globally, she’s giving interviews talking about losing it when she saw her son Michael out there in his black clothes, seeing the rocks being thrown at police (but again not thrown by him) not wanting him to be the next Freddie Gray, the latest unarmed black person to die at police hands, this time while in their very custody embroiled in a deepening mystery surrounding what happened to him and how he ended up with a severed spine between the time he was initially arrested and when he arrived at the hospital for treatment of undisclosed injuries. His crime apparently running away from 2 officers on bikes, who weren’t in pursuit of him for any known reason; for this he ends up dead. Her intentions similar to so many other extreme parents are 100% perfect; the execution however is a 100% fail.

But who says the children, the teens, the youth are the problem here; we heard the same shouts about black people, thugs, hood rats, lack of discipline trouble makers looking for an excuse to steal, destroy property and cause mayhem when it was Ferguson in chaos and on fire. Months later a federal department of justice report confirmed much of what citizens told news reporters, people finally paying attention; police there were racist, corrupt, routinely used excessive force on ordinary people, the city had orchestrated a system by which it targeted citizens, particularly minority citizens, for traffic tickets, petty crime to fill the city’s coffers.  However it’s also a case of the same thing I said, the same sentiment surrounding Ferguson official’s bumbling Mayberry ways; what do you expect?  Again you have a young black man, 25, in the prime of his life, inexplicably dead at police hands; outrage mounting because he died in police custody and no one seems to know what happened. Unlike with Michael Brown and police who couldn’t get their story straight about why they stopped him, spoke with him, appearing to have a semi-legitimate reason for both, Baltimore officials don’t so much as have a clear reason why they arrested him, except he saw 2 bicycle cops and ran. Though the subsequent police report states he was arrested without force or incident, video shows him in handcuffs being loaded into a police van screaming with legs that  look broken or somehow damaged; one witness telling reporters “ they folder him like origami.” Police commissioner admitting he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt in that van, independent the van having to stop in order to put leg irons on Gray after, according to officers, he became increasingly irate; later further acknowledging they should have gotten Gray medical attention sooner. Logical question is if they confused irate with panicked owing to minutes before he had asked for an inhaler, probably confiscated from his belongings, one of multiple requests for medical attention, and minutes after that, van operators radio for an officer to check on Gray; did he know something, what was wrong with him?  There is a 30 minute gap in between video, radio contact and when paramedics were finally called to take him to the hospital; there is available video and available reports, unreleased to the public, which may shed light on what transpired, provide answers desperately needed. Amid suspicions he was subjected to a common urban legend, antiquated police practice called “a rough ride,” where police use sudden stops, turns while driving to induce minor injuries to suspects, to set them straight, punishment for “being a criminal;” leaders giving no shortage of statements, press conferences, messages, pleas to the public. Mayor remaining noticeably distant from people, lacking that critical connection with city dwellers essential during times of crisis. Enter the predictable waffling on release of information, enter far from subtle attempts to malign the victim, the dead person’s character, a report on what happened to Gary, at least some details about the investigation was originally scheduled for release Friday last week; by Wednesday press knew that wasn’t going to happen, news slow to reach crowds marching in droves there, fear it would shatter the relative calm after riots and looting. Concurrently the Washington Post came out with a piece including witness testimony from a fellow prisoner in the van who heard banging and was inclined to think Gray was attempting to injure himself; as the day progressed witness’ story seemed to have changed saying he heard slight banging merely seconds long, putting forth a possibility he could have been convulsing, having a seizure, while medical reports, headed to the states attorney, describe a wound on Gray’s head matching a bolt in the van wall, van making 4 stops not 3 all amounting to a cover up, investigating authorities hiding something to onlookers’ eyes. If this was a potential explanation for what happened, we should have heard it long before now. Why are we just hearing it; why did authorities wait 18 days to tell people? Wait, you didn’t tell us, the Washington Post did, and we’re supposed to believe a fellow arrestee possibly with his own agenda, looking for his 15 minutes, who couldn’t see Gray being separated by a metal partition, a person whose story has already changed once? We’re supposed to believe firstly he was trying to injure himself so that excuses everything, and secondly, we’re supposed to believe in the course of trying to injure himself he nearly severed his own spine, managed to break his own neck, highly unlikely. Residents there also expressing a see this is what happens mentality vocal to news media saying they are told to remain calm, be patient, wait for justice to play out and it never comes. But Baltimore is not Ferguson; many echoing the words, could’ve fooled me.

The Nightline anchor is partially right Baltimore may not be Ferguson racially, in the makeup of police, administrators with a 41% black police force and several key black officials including the mayor, police commissioner, yet they still can’t get their house in order; they’ve had ample time, spanning decades, to work toward fixing chronic, systemic problems and haven’t done it. Freddie Gary isn’t just the latest victim nationally of potential police brutality, misconduct, the latest fatality of an obviously broken system nationwide but locally also. He is the 111th such person over roughly the past 5 years to be injured or killed that way; a place ironically once called charm city has paid out anywhere from slightly under 6 million to a little over 6 million for lost, automatically settled cases brought by citizens during a 4 year period starting 2011, figures cited in some news reports going up to 11 million over the past 5. And officers continue not to be able to keep their hands, feet, elbows, aggressive body parts to themselves regardless of race; authorities can’t get officers to keep their body parts to themselves. You see an angry police officer speaking out about the treatment of his men by city youth, city rioters, visibly upset giving a press conference; hmm, perhaps mirroring the upset, aguish, frustration and horror parents of dead, injured children identically feel aimed at police after  their traffic ticket arrest gone bad, being fingered a suspect in petty crime as yet unproven went south, never seeing the inside of a courtroom, because they allegedly fled to avoid capture, not fled in fear of their very lives from trigger happy, nervous predator, paranoid cops, ultimately ending up dead. Other police force members pleading with city parents to locate their children i.e. control them, rioters purportedly largely consisting of young people; maybe the line should be locate, monitor, control your officers, then perchance we will likewise have an incentive to control our kids and ourselves. Unfortunately Baltimore certainly is identical to Ferguson discussing police culture, examining economics, simmering tensions feeding the undercurrent that lead to rioting violence; Chris Mathews is absolutely correct asking where are the jobs, education, training for jobs, meaningful jobs, summer jobs for young people, solid, tangible opportunities, naming it an historic failure of policy, asking if congress nationally, politicians locally were going to do something about it, predicting if they did not those kids in the streets’ little brothers and their kids would be hanging on the corner the next time the city erupted.  Rev. Jesse Jackson equally correct highlighting we bailed out the banks but not the victims of predatory mortgages, predatory spending, Baltimore being an area wrestling  25-30% unemployment, few businesses symbolizing jobs, 18,000 vacant homes, abandoned lots, young people with no trade skills, mechanisms to give them any, where there can be a plan for urban reconstruction, they can, should be putting people to work replacing boarded up window spaces with window panes, removing lead paint, money tied up in politics. Not one politician addressing urban poverty, food deserts where there are no grocery only convenience stores, health deserts, lacking primary care physicians, there are states run by republican governors who refuse to expand Medicaid, we’re in a recovery leaving inner cities behind; republicans too busy trying to take what little is giving these people a subsistence living, attacking what can and can’t be bought with food stamp and TANF stipends, citing the most extreme and out of date cases of fraud they can find. Rev. Jackson asserts accurately police, firefighters, civil servants need to be residents not occupiers, who don’t buy groceries there, their children don’t go to school there, they only keep order there going home to their posh, suburban neighborhoods across town, miles away; they need to be seen as neighbors, part of the community, knowing one another, viewed as part of the solution rather than an extension of the problem. Unmentioned, maybe if Baltimorean city managers, administrators insisted police authorities properly trained personnel to begin with, required regular training opposite the NYPD, who when they rotated officers in for training after Eric Garner, it had been more than 5 years, more than a decade for some to receive refresher courses, practical demonstrations, practice reflecting policy changes, fired rouge, violent, out of control officers, they wouldn’t be paying out 6-11 million dollars in brutality claims and could use that money to reconstruct dilapidated neighborhoods, entice business to the city without aid from HUD, secretaries of commerce, treasury and labor forced into doing it instead. Thus people have no need to riot, no need to distrust the police, are presented with opportunities where the only thing that matters is merit, how hard you work, how hard you are willing to work, an utter departure from what we see now gripping the city, larger inner cities across America, but we fain ignorance, mystified as to why young people are throwing rocks at police, breaking windows, robbing stores blind.


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Bring on swinging Toya Graham wanting to ensure her son does not become another Freddie Gray; except A- frankly said picture is a pipe dream fantasy that’s never going to happen for the foreseeable future. B-her premise is totally off because Freddie Gray wasn’t apprehended by police for drugs, gang activity, petty theft, jaywalking, loitering or trespassing exc.; there is no evidence reporting a warrant was out for his arrest. Simultaneously answering critics who believe a singular, linking common denominator is criminality, people who break the law then flee police, you don’t have to be doing wrong to be stopped by police, routinely harassed by police, assaulted by police; you can even be compliant with police and still find yourself shot, otherwise injured. Just ask the grandfather visiting from India, walking down the sidewalk in his son’s neighborhood, slammed to the ground, partially paralyzed; just ask the man shot reaching back into his truck to retrieve his license, per officer instruction, shot over a seatbelt violation. People jumping up and down about Gray’s apparent, lengthy criminal record fail to realize in a city where cops are told via commanding officers to go after persons for every tiny “crime,” city ordinance, minor infraction they see, let or explicitly told to target minorities on an increased likelihood they are committing crimes, congratulated for it, promoted for it, “good citizens” would possess a record too, quite a long one, and constantly being subjected to such treatment would cause you to run to avoid the needless confrontation, hassle and harassment as you walked down the street. Prisons incentivized much the same way, converted to for profit institutions measured by how many bodies you can pile to the rafters and still have everyone breathing; hints why crime is down still the prison population is exploding. We’ve already heard poignant accounts from successful blacks, people commenting on race issues describing the anger, rage, very instinct instilled in minority young men through years of being ingrained with the idea you’re less than human, not allowed to have anything, weren’t supposed to live to 18 and 21 is not an option; Mychal Denzel Smith going a step beyond talking about living under the expectation of the black male body as something to fear before it has ever done anything to you, no matter what you do with it as it’s owner, trying to navigate through life in that constant state of stress, agitation and hyper awareness, asking are we still thugs now?  Perceptions beginning far earlier than most would dream they do, borne out in preschool, if the latest research examining school punishments is to be believed finding school staff, administrators are more apt to suspend minority students over white, think it part of a pattern and predict they will do so multiple times to solve discipline problems vs. white students, conclude identical infractions committed by specifically black minority students are more extreme than their white counterparts; again starting in preschool. We already know they do so in middle and high schools repeatedly removing them from the learning environment, profoundly turning them off to education, attempting to continue to graduation; compound that with the inherent irritation, bias teachers feel toward boys due to their fidgety restlessness and you have exactly what is occurring, a recipe for social disaster causing drop outs, poor grades and limited chances. A proclaimed teacher commenting on the MSNBC Melissa Harris- Perry segment said this, “over the past 20 years i have taught (and won awards for effectively doing so) in a wide range of formal and informal learning contexts with kids of all racial backgrounds, and that breadth of experience still doesn’t lead me to appreciate “why ‘identical infractions’ are perceived differently by the teachers.” the only viable explanations for such practices of racial inequality have nothing to do with the students themselves.” [Sic] Panelists there continued in correlating their treatment in school to honing the fear of minor infractions, instinct to run playing out when encountering law enforcement, the criminal justice system, but because we watch so many cop shows on T.V. we’ve been conditioned to believe only guilty people run. Their research promoting, proving scared people run too, and not just those who are scared of going back to jail, fear the warrant out for their arrest, fear their third strike, but fear getting a record for nothing, for walking somewhere, for being belligerent with a cop who will not listen, will not leave them alone.  Where else does similar bias manifest itself, jobs, employment when employers don’t think the young, black job applicant(s) will be good workers because of their dark skin, flat noses, corn rows, dreadlocks, age or street address, police record consisting of “harassment infractions,” because while by federal law employers can only ask about felony convictions on a standard job applications, I have personally seen low wage, starter job applications asking about misdemeanor arrest if not conviction. Oh but Freddie Gray’s rap sheet is because he sold drugs, operative words demarcating the past tense; next how many of those stopped at arrests, charges only and how many were solid convictions? Further how many stops, arrests, charges or convictions were from Baltimore; sneaky suspicious says none. Unsurprising dah he sold drugs; already established, there are no jobs, certainly not at meaningful wages and the man below is correct, your responsibilities don’t stop because you don’t have a job, can’t get one. Baltimore is hardly unique in that respect; maybe he came there to turn over a new leaf, change his life. Scores have been profiled in the news, in feature pieces recovering from drug addiction, criminality, gang activity; what those were predominately white people, Latinos, so the blacks that scenario does apply to don’t count?  Smacking her son Michael around in public for the whole world to see, going on TV, giving interviews talking about keeping him off drugs, which aren’t remotely part of the equation concerning him, outta that life isn’t going to change listed intrinsic social attitudes, bias, discrimination, the palpable reality her son is more likely to have a negative, even deadly interaction with police just walking down the street, standing outside a business, minding his own business in a public place than for any crime, nor will it increase his opportunities, expand his horizons as to possibilities open to him. Protesting might, remember gatherings in the street began as legitimate, peaceful protests against what happened to Gray; where is she out there performing a different kind of civic duty, protesting when she’s not at work something directly affecting her, adding her voice, protesting so her child has a better future? Where is she out there protesting with him, her other 5 children showing them all how to do it right, do it peacefully, a far better way to “save his life,” what her horrible spectacle keeps being characterized as.


And we wonder why they’re going around acting like the “wild animals” we’ve called them for years, you see a young rioter in a mask screaming directly to camera, “you take everything we have, we gunna take everything you got.” It couldn’t be what I said in my first piece on Ferguson, it couldn’t be the tipping point that drove some of them crazed, it couldn’t be young people taking what the environment, the perpetuations created by outsiders, by non-minorities will never allow them to earn, it couldn’t be what one blogger said, “Looting, too, is about power. When people have nothing and something happens to remind them, in a big way, that what little they do have can be taken away in an instant, including their lives and the lives of their children, they may reach for any semblance of power or control they can get. That might mean breaking a window or even starting a fire. It may mean taking something. Something you’ve been told you can’t have because you’re not human enough to live, let alone prosper.” Another sobering truth, nonviolence may have worked for Gandhi in his day and Dr. King in his, but it undeniably doesn’t work in the 21st century; things were kept static in Ferguson through racism, oppression and depression until what, violence, unrest, riots and looting brought all eyes to them, moved the needle toward change. Compare that to Michigan where police were under federal Department of Justice investigation when 2 officers with a bad history opened fire on Tamir Rice, 12, left him virtually dying on the sidewalk mistaken for 20. Here, one headline read Baltimore mom: To see my son at riots with rock in hand, “I just lost it,” so hypocritically it’s ok for her to lose akin to out of control women in Wal-Mart smacking each other over the last bargain discount sweater, who bumped into whose cart, an insignificant breech of manners by their small child, the caliber of persons appearing on Jerry Springer, women pulling hair, fighting in the street, usually competing over a man, but it’s not ok for rioters having lived under oppression for decades, youth, teens who already know they don’t have a future? Ideas supported by the following comment illuminating an unfortunate but real undertone “…there’s a subtext here that some people aren’t getting because they think she was just trying to be a good parent (which may be true…). The subtext is: “Violence BY young Black men isn’t allowed — even in protest or defense — but violence AGAINST young Black men is.” She says she didn’t want her son to end up as another Freddie Gray but that doesn’t make any sense. Freddie Gray didn’t do anything wrong. He literally didn’t do anything wrong. Furthermore, the protesters are protesting because they don’t want another Freddie Gray. Even if her intentions were good (and they may have been) she was wrong. The potential targets of police violence will come to see that, if they haven’t already.” Then enter the state’s Attorney last Friday, easily called the people’s hero announcing explicit details on what happened to Gray as she rattled off 28 charges against all 6 officers starting with misconduct relating to no probable cause to arrest Gray in the first place, noting the knife found on him was a common, legal pocket knife, not a switch blade, failure to get Gray requested medical attention, severe violation of policy in not strapping him into the transport van, legs shackled, hands cuffed resulting in the catastrophic head injury resembling a car accident as he is thrown around the vehicle with no way to balance himself, not someone banging their head attempting self-injury and lastly, 2nd degree murder for the driver who, on top of all the other evidence,  repeatedly left him unresponsive as police went about their business. Facts expanding exponentially the reality her son could be the next Freddie Gray; hardly shocking rioting violence immediately turned to celebratory gatherings in the streets as people feel their voices have been heard, justice will be rendered. Compounding hypocrisies were news anchors, personalities deeming Graham’s behavior acceptable citing extreme circumstances, indicating it’s ok for certain people to go berserk in certain circumstances; just not “those” people from “that” area presented with real reason to rise up, or because they are young, age discrimination much? Additionally points brought up emphasized a profound difference between discipline (teaching) and punishment (consequences of bad/wrong behavior, immediate repercussions for actions); hold it punishment was hauling him away from there, explains the yelling, the cursing the lecturing, yanking off the mask, not hitting him about the face and head. Punishment would have been taking him down there to clean up the mess he was almost a part of, hauling him home not allowing him to go out apart from school, confined to his room no TV, video games, pleasurable reading, computer (except for homework), allowed out for meals, X trips to the bathroom, to bathe, nothing else during the remaining school year, coming summer, until next fall or until a time at her discretion between now and then, simulating the jail he will be confined to if he gets in legal trouble. Even better marching him over to a police officer, letting him be arrested, spend the night in jail like the friends he so eagerly followed. Speaking of and to all the above, where was she beforehand noticing him being influenced by a bad element at school, susceptible to peer pressure; is she sure he went there because of his friends not because of his own feelings, angst, anger regarding Freddie Gray?  Where were the conversations about what happened, his thoughts on events prior to that day, prior to telling him to go straight home from school? Important too, was he there to riot or to protest; was he wearing a mask to hide his identity from police, his mother, adults in general or in anticipation of tear gas, pepper spray routinely used by police on large crowds, surely having seen Ferguson footage peaceful protests met with cops in riot gear, military vehicles and tear gassing people chanting, some on their own front lawn. Prompting comments such as, “Rioting in the street doesn’t fall under my umbrella of “stupid things” teenagers do. And the violence she showed towards him lets me know where the apple originated from,” highlighting the problem with her reactionary nature, yet she wonders where he got it from. Hmmm, watching you comes to mind. Still Toya Graham did the right thing; the sky isn’t green folks


Being a biracial African American myself I have/had no reason to act like them, the rioters, youth causing destruction in Baltimore; starting my early life in the country, doing the bulk of my growing up in lower middle class suburbia, my town was big enough to avoid the perils of small town justice and small enough to sidestep urban blight and other looming issues. Meaning, police didn’t go about harassing persons in my city simply because they felt they had nothing better to do. Raised by my white mother and having the most contact with my white relatives I didn’t go to school speaking Ebonics giving teachers a reason to denigrate and dislike me right off the bat; I was also blessed with a high verbal IQ and an ability to pronounce big words correctly at a young age, inherently understanding their meaning from context. Simultaneously my mother had a good paying, stable job that meant I grew up with books in the home, crayons, markers, colored pencils, could obtain necessary school supplies; possessing a complete k-12 education herself meant she could help me with my homework, quiz me for spelling tests and decipher silly grade school learning exercises made complicated in an overemphasized attempt to appeal to young kids rather than the new math, use of phonics, which was new back then. Factors putting me ahead of my urban classmate counterparts nationwide even circa the 1980’s, and help for kids with disabilities was available, even in my remote area, in the era of doctors who knew more about what they were doing. Moving a mere 10 minutes from my former residence farther into the city proper put me in it’s school district rather than the rural, smaller one, one town over, but even there I don’t remember anyone being racist; further because it served lower middle class neighborhoods, nowhere described as the ghetto, inner city, what little of one we have to this day, teachers didn’t readily stereotype students based on race, socio-economic status and supposedly bad home lives; I guess you could say I won the genetics lottery too possessing a moderate skin tone an ideal mixture of my heritage, opposite very dark tones, my nose is average instead of big and flat, usually hallmark in African Americans, and while my hair can be unmanageable when too long, it lacks that characteristic nappy quality, avoiding appearances known set off negative reactions. Born female I escaped the cursed trifecta of black, male and poor, therefore marginalized; added to my physical needs in early years, the noticeable forearm crutches, I wasn’t a student who could get lost in a crowd, left behind. Overall results, I was encouraged, praised for natural talent, told things were possible, readily came to believe in the value of education, see it as my ticket to what I wanted in life. When I did encounter racism, sadly what minority doesn’t, it was a rare, few and far between set of instances instigated by people who were of little, no importance to me; African bootie scratcher I’m pretty sure was one of those things said in the 90’s by teenagers who didn’t know what it meant anyway, that it came from the neighborhood bully gave me all the more reason to ignore it, be grossed out by it than anything else, secure in the knowledge of who I was. Similarly when staying with my grandmother for the weekend and having my alcoholic, drunk aunt, living there at the time, call me the N word didn’t derail my life because she was the family riffraff you would steer clear of if it you weren’t related and even at 9 I understood that, nor were such things a consistent occurrence from multiple sources wearing me down. The long and short of it I was lucky, my disability made me eligible for services from entities like vocational rehabilitation, gave me options to go to college no cost to myself, my working mother who had no means to give me a college fund; still had I know what I know now I can easily see myself taking part in the goings on in Baltimore, peacefully or not, easily put myself in their shoes, understand the urge to throw rocks at police, regain some shred of power and control over my life. Had I known what I know now at 13, 14, 15, 16, that getting a college degree wouldn’t translate into the opportunities everyone said, believed it would, that despite getting good grades doing well, even into post-secondary education I would end up in the same boat with every other millennial college graduate eventually spawning the occupy Wall Street movement equally marginalized, denigrated, made fun of, Dennis Miller calling them in part “the island of misfit toys in hemp hoodies” for wanting reasonable opportunities absent crushing debt, meaningful commiserate wages for achieving a degree. If I had known then what I know now, that I would be in the same boat as the trouble maker, disruptive classmates I sat next to, sans actually getting arrested, no better off than the chatty Cathy socialites who barely paid attention, a public housing dweller, government check dependent, neighbors with a friend who, due to an undiagnosed learning disability, barely graduated high school, I wouldn’t have believed them. Had someone told me I would be in some ways worse, because most of the annoying, talkaholic nuisances who drove me crazy in school went on to get jobs as CNA’s, home heath aids, dental assistants, working in social work and helping fields while my disability barred me from minimum wage, get by work, abysmal training programs and job structures would prevent me from working reception, hotel front desk jobs and professional, what should be termed misconduct, certainly incompetence by those charged with helping me kept me from vital information on getting a paid writing career, a solid paying job in the writing world, I definitely wouldn’t have spent so much time caring about grades, putting stock in education, I don’t know what would have happened to me. And had I grown up in the shadows of police brutality, under the cloud of harassment by bigger and bigger authority, the inevitability I would be arrested by police at some point, possibly shot and killed in the process, shot and killed for walking in a specific area, for fitting a stereotype, for merely being, I wouldn’t feel I had anything to lose confronting police; at least I would be arrested, jailed, assaulted, shot, killed for something I actually did vs. the lingering stench of unfounded suspicion. Ms. Graham welcome to the world your son Michael lives in, the toxic environment he traverses every day; was he still wrong to be down there “rioting?”

Finally we have to ask ourselves what the era of ass whooping, mild neglect, virtually ignore them until they do something wrong then beat them till the can’t sit down, age 2 to 18 has gotten us apart from entities like Curtis Reeves, Robert Bates, serial killers, prolific pedophiles, Phillip Garrido anyone, racists Michael Dunn, Theodore Waffer, home grown terrorists before we really knew what those were, before al-Qaida was a blip on our radar, Timothy McVeigh, Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, the legions raised by 1940s-1950’s alcoholic, wife beating, conformity crazed parents, who didn’t turn out perfect, productive citizens suffering psychological problems, living lesser lives thanks to our ideal of discipline. Those in the 70’s and 80’s raised under the predominate old school techniques, George Zimmerman, Tiger Woods talking about his mother being the one to tan his hide till he couldn’t sit down;  look at him now, his golf game sucks and he’s more known for cheating on his wife, his scandalous girlfriend. No wonder post baby boomer generations, Gen X abandoned the practice in raising their kids all the way up to the millennial Gen Z demographic; pondering research evidence stating spanking children changes their brains, making them everything from more aggressive to increased chances of depression, anxiety and anti-social behavior, maybe it is also an explanation for why adults roughly 36 and above, anyone raised in this manner is perpetually stupid and constantly making bad choices imitations of our reactionary mother and beyond. My extrapolated conclusion apparently more than just social observation according to a 2012 study finding lower IQ’s and decreased gray matter, connective brain tissue, in those subjected to corporal punishment; significant discussion pieces especially for the African American, southern communities who can’t seem to shake the practice, who refuse to see anything but the merits of it. Significant when successful blacks Steve Harvey, the late Bernie Mac are found funny telling jokes about opening a daycare and having no problem sending a kid home with a knot on their head, smacking them upside the head until the white meat shows; while we comprehend hyperbole, exaggeration to the extent of making a point, being funny there is then looking at what this mother did. Leaving us to ponder several things, not the least being the differentiation between infractions admitted to by teachers in black students possibly linked to aggression, the lower test scores propensity for special ed. in inner city African American children before piling on environmental factors like lead paint and poverty; how many are adults today suffering low level brain damage in the name of discipline, how many kids are currently at risk, how many parents who will take something meant to be a joke apply it more literally hitting their child what they believe is mildly, perhaps not so mildly about the head, leaving more low level, perhaps not so low level, brain damage?  Frankly those jokes should be as sick as Bill Cosby’s 1960’s reference to drugging a girl’s drink now that we know better, now that we fully understand the context, when we understand trying to have a close relationship, communication with your child is not being your child’s friend,  when we understand you can step up as a parent, be no nonsense, avoid the 21st century trap of  actually trying to be their friend by having firm expectations, consequences for bad behavior without acting like a lunatic in the middle of the street, but they’re not. They are still found funny even needed today when parents “don’t seem to know how to handle their kids” because they refuse to hit them, refuse to perpetuate the cycle of violence saying it leads to out of control brats doing things like the ones throwing rocks in Baltimore; except the old school spanking, beating, smacking kids upside the head is likely to lead to more of that not less, sociologists and history itself proving situations like Baltimore are what you get when you take people’s civil rights away. We have to ask ourselves what bringing back spanking, paddling to schools has gotten us, except numbers that show schools using it have no more or less discipline problems than those that don’t use it, defying the illusion of effectiveness. We have to ask ourselves if spanking anywhere but particularly in school is worth culminating horror stories like the middle school honor student paddled for failing a paper not a breach of discipline without anyone trying to find out why he failed said paper, greeted to this creepy phrase “well my daddy beat me, I beat my children, and that’s what I’m about to do to y’all,” before it happened, all without his parents’ knowledge ending in all the wrong kinds of media attention and the school ultimately disbanding the practice, a practice said by all schools using it, who never stopped using it, the restrictions are so extensive it was almost impossible to paddle a child. We have to ask ourselves if we should be praising Toya Graham, condemning her or chastising ourselves for letting the adults in authority get so out of control, creating a place where youth’s only choice is to physically react to regain their dignity and worth as human beings, draw attention to grievous wrongs.