Baltimore: pastors and mom
By Pastor Rasheed Z. Baaith
I have set thee watchmen upon thy walls O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence.” (Isaiah 62:6)
If there is one group of people who worked tirelessly to stop the violence in Baltimore and prevent more fires from being lit, fires both figuratively and literally, it was Black pastors in that city.
In an era where Black pastors are better known for awful television shows than for their determined efforts to rescue communities, what those Black pastors did and are doing in Baltimore is more than worthy of praise.
They did everything we say we want our pastors to do: they walked the streets of their community; they engaged young people by listening to them and then teaching them, they gave solace to those in need of it; they preached hope and a better tomorrow to a community in the throes of destructive violence. Even when they were a victim of fires and flames, there was never a word of condemnation. The LORD must have been pleased and the people were surely blessed.
Never was there the perception that these men and women were looking for a photo opportunity or a chance to give a sound bite to gain national exposure. It was clear from every action they took and every word they uttered that what they wanted more than anything else was for the world to know three things: one they loved their city, two, the people in the streets loved their city and three, what was happening now would not be happening tomorrow. And I have no doubt that even now they are somewhere in Baltimore asking themselves how they can do more for that city and its people. Without their efforts and without the efforts of mothers like Tanya Graham, these could have been a lot worse.
As many of us know by now Tonya Graham is the mother we saw slapping some sense into her son after she caught him trying to become part of the riot. Her actions gained her worldwide recognition and more haters than anybody except maybe Floyd Mayweather, Jr. She ignited a conversation that has become intense, large in scope and still ongoing. And to be honest, much of that conversation is just noise.
The debate centers on whether or not Graham should have slapped her son and what message did that send to her son and what did her behavior say about Black women, single Black mothers, fatherless children, and the unrelenting violence in our homes and communities.
That’s way too much for me. Graham did what any responsible mother should have done. She refused to allow her child to make what could have been the worse decision of his young life. That she did so by forcibly restraining him is acceptable to me. If she didn’t stop him, who was?
We all know if her son had been hurt or had been arrested, the first thing out of everyone’s mouth would have been, “Where was this boy’s parents?” We know this is true because we heard the question being asked over and over by reporters as they reported on youth who were among the lawless and uncontrolled.
But being a good mother comes with a cost. At last report, Child Protective Services (CPS) of Baltimore had launched an investigation about what Graham did. Said a CPS spokesperson: “After reviewing the video in question, it has come to our attention that Ms. Graham is a mother of six. Although her actions are somewhat understandable, we cannot allow a young man to suffer such violence and abuse regardless of the cause.”
There was even more verbal diarrhea, the spokesperson went on to say, “Therefore CPS investigators will question Ms. Graham and her children and will also conduct an investigation that will see if Ms. Graham will be allowed to continue being her children’s legal guardian.”
Let me see if I got this right. In a city known as one of the biggest heroin markets in America with all the attendant factors like mothers abandoning their children, unrelenting and merciless gun violence, young men believing that selling drugs is both legitimate and acceptable, not to mention the despair and pathos of addicts, CPS of Baltimore has nothing else to do but investigate a mother who slapped her son out of a mob?
How about them investigating some of those heroin dealers who employ children as look outs and dealers or investigating the pimps who are exploiting children by forcing them into prostitution or the street gangs whose recruitment slogan seems to be “become part of us or die from us.”
Graham, like those Black preachers in Baltimore, did the right thing. Whether people agree with their actions or not. Think about it.