Many of the problems of race in our country can be summarized in the viral video below of a mother ‘protecting’ her child by beating him for being at a riot, and people’s response to that video. That video spread like wild fire praising this mother up and down for repeatedly slapping her son across the face and hitting him in the head. I myself, was involved in a conversation with a local pastor who was discussing why this video was so popular. He cited a need for white people to get off by proxy. Several people who had enjoyed the video came forward and told him that he was way off base, that they reason they enjoyed it was simply because she was doing what was right; it had nothing to do with race. And there we have it.
From the people on the ABC news channel happily discussing this act, and praising the mother. To the individuals who say she was just doing what was right. No one will say it has anything to do with race. But it has everything to do with race. In a video that I posted yesterday, but will add to the queue, is a clip of the three major gangs in Baltimore standing together to say that they do not support the violence and are, in fact, meeting with church officials to stop it. In the background of that video one of the men says that they are often the ones getting kids to school. He says that as if he is insisting the gangs have gotten a bad rap and all they want to do is protect kids. It seems that nearly everyone believes the right way to protect the black male body is to beat it.
Can you see the connection? Police feel they need to treat the black male body roughly to protect it. Mothers of black boys feel they need to beat them to protect them. Gangs feel they need to beat them, and many other things, to protect them. It’s a whole culture of people who see the black male body as something wild and out of control that needs to literally be beaten into submission. People are even sending this mother money. Patting her on the head for keeping her son out of the riots. It takes me back to Phil Robertson, and the part of his infamous interview that no one was raging about, but should have been. Growing up in pre-civil rights Louisiana he paints a specific picture of blacks: “Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.” This connection is not arbitrary. The free black body is a problematic body. They can only be subdued by beating; they are only happy when subdued. Therefore to do right by the black body one must beat it.
If you have been following my blog, you’ll know that I am fully committed to non-violence. Perhaps my view on these riots will surprise you, but I am in favor of non-compliance and civil disobedience. I don’t agree with throwing rocks at the police, but I understand it. I am not in favor of destruction of property, but I understand it. When this is how deep the sickness goes, you’ve got to act. I understand it. If my son was down in the riot zone, I would not be beating him. I would be standing right next to him. We can chant and stand our ground for the friend of his who was beaten by the police together. For a week prior to the riot there were peaceful protests. Marches. There was no media. There was no riot gear. There was no impact. The burning down and terrorizing of their own neighborhood is the only way they could get heard. Isn’t that what we expect of a non-violent movement? Didn’t the marchers with Dr. King get injured and beaten. Didn’t Gandhi’s followers walk into beatings again and again? Aren’t we asking a non-violent protester to take the hit for progress? Aren’t they taking the hit for progress by destroying their own neighborhood? And isn’t that a stupid question? When was the last time a history book questioned the efficacy of dumping our already-paid-for tea into Boston harbor?
Mom beating Son
Interview with Mom and Son
Gangs speaking against the violence (Watch the guy with the red flag)