I Am Not Amused

Today, the Youtube video of woman in Baltimore slapping at her son, doing her best to push him away from a confrontation with police has gone viral. People seem to think it’s funny.
I have three sons. On a cold day they all occasionally wear hoodies. But only the youngest has been stopped by the police when dressed this way, pulled over twice now in the past six months, with his wife beside him and his kids in the backseat, his license checked, his motives questioned.
My youngest has a good job, has supported himself since he was eighteen, busts his butt to be there for his wife and kids. He’s also adopted. Of Cherokee and Choctaw and Spanish and Mexican ancestry. Though I’ve never thought of him as anything but my son, a young man, like his brothers, whom I was blessed to raise and of whom I am extremely proud,
to cops, he is a person of color.
So, when I see that video of that mother berating her child, herding him, pushing him away from confrontation with the police, I am not laughing. I understand her fear, her terror that any encounter with the police is rife with danger for her son.
Oh, I know, some of you are going to say I’m comparing apples and oranges here. The young man in the video is looking for trouble, taunting the police. Any of us, black or white or any color in-between, might be shot doing such a stupid stunt. But I want to remind you that my own son, solely because of the color of his skin, has been subjected to what I can only describe as harassment by the police. A young man in a car less than three years old, no stickers or political statements on the vehicle, no broken tail lights, or expired registration, or exceeding the speed limit — pulled over and questioned and asked for his license and registration.
All I’m saying is that that video is not funny. At least not to me. In a far more immediate and powerful way, the woman in that video lives with the knowledge that every day people with guns on their hips look at her son and see not the young man whose first word was ‘light’, or who, as the smallest child in his kindergarten class insisted on wearing pointy-toed cowboy boots to school to deal with the class bully, or who ate all the frosting off his fifth birthday cake. No, individuals with the backing of our country’s entire legal system see her son as a person of color.
And, in this country, at this time, that perception is dangerous for that young man.
So, no, I am not embedding that video into this post. You’ve all seen it. But what I want you to know is that I do not find those images funny. I find them absolutely terrifying.

About Author and Speaker Pamela Foster

Pamela Foster is a speaker and author. Her first book, Redneck Goddess, is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Her second book, Bigfoot Blues, will be available in August 2012.
This entry was posted in person of color, racism, the united states, Youtube mother and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to I Am Not Amused

  1. Pam, I also do not find the youtube video funny. But as a mother, I applaud the fact that the other mother herded her son (however she had to do it) away from the violence. We all have the right to peaceful assembly, but Baltimore has been anything but peaceful lately. Young people think they are bullet proof. The woman, like you, was probably frightened out of her mind knowing what could have happened to her son. Again our country is at a crossroad, black vs white. I hate what is happening, but glad that there are still some parents out there that take the time to get their kids off the street and out of harms way.

  2. Jan Morrill says:

    Thank you for sharing your unique perspective, Pam, although in no way did I find the video funny. Instead, I could feel the mother’s fear, anger, desperation, frustration, helplessness, love for her son. I’m sorry your son has had to deal with prejudice based on the color of his skin. Will we ever grow away from that?

  3. Staci Troilo says:

    I haven’t seen that video, Pam. I find the rioting to be cause for alarm, and therefore, it is something I am avoiding giving more attention to. I am aware of the situation, but I have no interest in watching people throw fuel on an already out of control fire. If the rioters were as concerned with our basic freedoms (as they say), they wouldn’t be violent. They would be seeking peaceful, lasting solutions to the problem.

    I don’t find any of this funny. I have family in that area, and I’m concerned for their safety. I’m concerned about EVERYONE’S safety. I agree with Jan. I can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever move past these hostilities.

    I’m sorry your son has dealt with this bigotry. I can only imagine your fear for him. Hopefully the day will soon come where all of this is a devastating chapter in a history book.

  4. Katie Cross says:

    I actually haven’t seen anyone who thinks it’s funny so far.

    I heard about the video before I saw it, and I ended up getting a great debate going on Facebook over whether the mother’s actions were laud worthy (good on her) or over the top (she took it too far). I purposefully withheld a solid judgment to see what people said, and was surprised when most people (only 2 that I can think of) actually expressed concern about the approval this received. I see two vastly different arguments circulating over this (rightfully so.) 1. Good for her for getting to her son before he did something stupid and REALLY got hurt or 2. She went over the top and practically beat him. How will that teach him?

    Personally, once I did see the video, i was shocked at how hard she attacked him in the face. I’ve oscillated back and forth on my opinion, to be honest. From ‘she smacked him in the face to teach him a lesson?’ to ‘well, at least she pulled him out of there and made it clear this isn’t okay when plenty of parents aren’t doing that.’ I mean the kid WAS there with the intent to harm, obviously. I can’t imagine a mother who wouldn’t have a massive, adrenalin-packed reaction.

    My conclusion? This is an intense, unique situation, period. No judgment, nothing but love for all the nastiness involved.

  5. Hear, hear! Thank you Pam for bringing your first-hand experience as a mother to this discussion. I hope people who find any humor in the event will read this and embrace your insight. Shared!

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