Monday, May 18, 2015


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Baltimore: America always loves a Mammy


Black Baltimore remains ablaze for Freddie Gray...

On Monday (April 28, 2015), in the shadow of Mondawmin Mall, the last corporate-owned retail outlet in the northwest Baltimore 'hood, a Black mother, dressed in obvious working class chic attire, spotted her son among the throng of enraged youths hurling anything within reach at platoons of police guarding the store. She jumped the boy, punching, shoving and cursing. She screamed: ”You thought I wouldn’t recognize you?!” She continued hitting the young man, who accepted her blows and and verbal abuse without retaliation. He followed his mother to her car. The woman continued to scream:

Child torture and humiliation as a social survival strategy in Baltimore?

"Boy! Get your behind.
What is wrong with you huh?? What is wrong with you?
Take the fucking mask off. You wanna be brave? Take it off!
You wanna be out here doing this dumb stuff? This dumb shit? Get the fuck over here. Get over here now! You hear what I say?
Come over here. Get over here!!"

The young teen winced in shame and sheepishly followed his mother out of the camera frame. Another Black child was flogged and publicly humiliated in the street. It is unlikely that the Mondawmin Mall incident was the first time the teenager had been whooped and cursed. But this time the episode was captured by Baltimore's WMAR, an ABC-affiliated television station. The video went viral, garnering thousands of instant views.

Indeed, the tweet world went wild with applause for the mother, much of it characterized as this: To the mom that smacked her kid for rioting in Baltimore, good on you. We need more parents like you. #momoftheyear— Chad Carman (@CharminCarman) April 28, 2015

Not surprisingly, much of the social media chatter came from other Black people who praised the publicly abusive parent. America, especially Black America, had its Mother of the Year, its newest Mammy.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts
The mother's televised felonious assault on her son became so popular that Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts felt to compelled to quip during a news conference, “And if you saw in one scene, you had a mother who grabbed their child who had a hood on his head and she started smacking him on the head because she was so embarrassed. I wish I had more parents who took charge of their kids tonight.” The police love Mammies, too.

Not to be outdone, the Black Preacher Class joined in praising the mother. Thumping their Bibles, they reminded their routinely financially-fleeced sheep that a verse in Proverbs 13:24 that says, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” They conveniently failed to add that, in Hebrew--the accepted root language of the Judeo-Christian scriptures-- the word translated as “rod” is the same word used in Psalms 23:4, “thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” The shepherd’s rod was used to guide the sheep, not to whip them.

Young Black people must be disciplined through corporal punishment and verbal abuse, so goes wisdom of the Negro Sages of the Ages. But the word “discipline” comes from the Latin “discipuli,” which means student or disciple, strongly suggesting a teacher-pupil relationship between a parent and child. Punishment comes from the Greek word “poine” and its Latin derivative “poena,” which mean revenge, and form the root words of pain, penalty and penitentiary. But semantics has little place in American social sympathy for tree limb-belt buckle-whip-bareknuckle-boot wielding Mammies.

The truth of the matter is that neither discipline nor punishment are the social motivations of Mammies. They are actually plantation functionaries charged with the task of keeping the pickaninnies politically subservient to the Master and the social manners required by the system of White Supremacy. Mammies are preferred dispensaries of Black child terror and torture. The woman at the Mondawmin Mall on Monday was merely carrying on time honored tradition of chattel slavery in America.

While 70 percent of Americans approve of corporal punishment, Blacks have a historically specific relationship to the practice of child abuse. Parental child torture has always been a central feature in the slave society. Black psychiatrists William H. Grier and Price M. Cobbs described it in their 1968 book “Black Rage.”

They wrote: “Beating in child-rearing actually has its psychological roots in slavery and even yet [B]lack parents will feel that, just as they have suffered beatings as children, so it is right that their children be so treated.” In short, corporal punishment is a sort of perverse Black FOLKWAY.

Some historians believe that Black slave parents (Mammies) often showed manifest contempt for their children in order to simply appease the sadism of the white slave-owners. This was a way of demonstrating loyalty and worth to the master. The revolutionary psychiatrist Frantz Fanon pointed out a similar trait among the French lower stratum colonial functionaries in Algeria. 

Frantz Fanon, MD

He wrote: "By torturing, [the police agent] manifests an exemplary loyalty to the system. And indeed the French soldiers can hardly do otherwise without condemning French domination. Every Frenchman in Algeria must behave like a torturer." (Toward the African Revolution: Political Essays, trans. Haakon Chevalier (New York: Grove Press, 1967), 71.) In a like manner, every slave afflicted with the slave mentality felt compelled to demonstrate thralldom to the master.

Keep in mind that the slave Mammies who brutalized their own children often suckled and fawned over their masters' white children. The beloved Black Mammy is actually an emblem of motherly charms, a staple character of American literature and film in 19th and 20th centuries. White supremacy needs and loves Mammies for their dual social roles as the nurturing mother (reserved for white kids) and the tormentor (reserved for Black kids).

But there was another side of the coin. Terror in the cotton field at the hands of overseers (Black and white) often provoked parents to beat Black children in the slave shack, or at times in the presence of the slave owner in order to break a rebellious child’s spirit. Black parents beat their children to keep them from misbehaving in the eyes of whites who had the power to send Black youth to their deaths for the slightest offense. Today, many black parents fear that a loose tongue or flash of temper could get their child killed by a trigger-happy cop. They would rather beat their offspring than bury them.

Indeed, the snarling and punching parent at Mondawmin Mall on Monday is basking in her 15 minutes of fame. She is America's favorite Mammy of the moment. Her name is Toya Graham, and she boastfully explained the attack on her son to the adoring corporate media. Speaking to CNN (April 29), she declared, "I'm a no-tolerant mother. Everybody who knows me, knows I don't play that. He knew. He knew he was in trouble."

Graham recounted that she and her son made eye contact and she didn't even think about the news cameras when she went after the teen. She was probably telling the truth. Her assault was the social reflex of a slave.

Graham continued, "That's my only son and at the end of the day I don't want him to be a Freddie Gray. I was angry. I was shocked, because you never want to see your child out there doing that."

The logic of Graham's antics resides uniquely and solely in the psychosis of white supremacy and Black political emasculation. By her estimation, if Freddie Gray had been appropriately humiliated and beaten by his mother or father, then he would not be dead today. Sickness! Let's apply science. If Freddie Gray had managed to elude the Baltimore policemen, legally empowered to maim and/or murder Black youths with impunity, then Freddie Gray would be alive today. Let's marry science, not slave torture.