This interview has been shared about a million times on my feed today by people who seem very unlikely sharers of something like this. To some of you I say “you keep using that clip but I don’t think it means what you think it means”. If you listen to what she says you will hear that this was not some mom disciplining her child because he wasn’t acting right or slapping him because she didn’t raise him to riot and he should know better. This is a video of a mom who is scared to death that she was about to watch her son die in front of her, like a mom who goes off on a child that is running into the middle of the street infront of a Mack truck. She’s driving along and sees a group of kids throwing rocks at police officers and in horror thinks “this is about to go down right in front of me” expecting return gunfire or beatings or arrests that mysteriously end in more deaths. Then she looks over and sees her son in the crowd, wearing a hoodie and her mind flashes to the interviews of Treyvon Martin’s mom and Michael Brown’s mom clutching the pictures of their sons, never to hold them again. And in that moment of panic, she loses it. She expresses her fear and anger and powerlessness on her son in the same violent way that her son is expressing it on the streets.
This is a picture of what injustice does to a mom’s heart. I watched those same interviews on the today show, but I didn’t clutch my little, white girls closer or make promises in my heart that I would never let that happen to them. I don’t fear that they will draw the attention of the police and end up dead. That has literally never been a thought in mind, but this woman lives it. I saw a statistic that in the last 5 years 111 black people have died in police custody in Baltimore, her fears are real.
It has been my experience that police officers are there to help. They are good hearted public servants that want to keep people safe. I think this is the case for most officers in most cities across the country, but I also need to understand that I have never been a 16 year old black man in Baltimore. Only once have I ever been stopped for no reason because I was in a rough neighborhood dropping off teenagers late one night, but as soon as they saw I was a white woman and I explained what I was doing, they backed off and even apologized for bothering me. That isn’t the case for these young men. They are looked at with suspicion and arrested for no reason and in this case in Baltimore, they die in police custody. If I knew that was a possibility for my kids when they left the house, I would feel just like this mom. She says she tries to keep him in the house because she knows then he will be safe. That is no way to live…that kind of fear breeds the kind of violence you see in the video of her beating her son. The system needs to change and we need to hear this mother’s breaking heart.