October 18, 2016


Toya Graham is my hero.

Oh, the name doesn’t ring a bell? She’s the young mother who got caught on network TV, roughing up her teenage son because she found out that he was rioting on the streets of Baltimore. She reminds me of my own mother.

That’s right: In my old neighborhood, we knew our neighbors and they knew us. If someone hurt one of her children, Mom would run to our defense like a mother grizzly caring for her cub. But if I was the offender, she’d be the first to apologize on my behalf and then slap me back to my senses. Which is as it should be. How could she complain about the bully down the street, if her own children were no better?

Mom knew that it wasn’t in her power to fix all of the ills of our society. But one thing she could do, was to keep my sister and me from making it worse. And it worked: We’ve been (mostly) on the straight and narrow ever since. 
And that, it seems, is where our civil rights movement has gone astray. We’re so accustomed to playing Mama Bear when someone else has done us wrong (either Whitey, or an over-reaching government), that we can’t bear to admit our own failures. Sure, it brings a short-term satisfaction when we sue the police for shooting someone. Even more so, if we win. 

But then what? Rodney King won millions from the LAPD, but he blew through it quickly and remained the same thug that he was before. Will our children learn their lessons from the experience? Will they think twice before they steal a box of cigars or taunt a cop? For as long as Benjamin Crump and Al Sharpton are allowed to steer the conversation, I’m not hopeful. Where are they when a black man shoots a white cop, unprovoked? Where are they when mobs of black residents burn down their own neighborhood? Hello? Nothing.

Instead of complaining that “too many” black men are in prison, perhaps we could instill our sons with a healthy dose of obedience and humility. Even if they're innocent, help them choose better friends, and make better choices.

Were you really pulled over for the crime of DWB, or because you were speeding? In either case, perhaps you could de-escalate the situation by NOT having an open can of malt liquor in your hand.

Were you evicted from your Section 8 housing because you're black, or because you broke the rules? Think carefully before you answer. (In my town, minority residents constitute over 80% of the Section 8 population, so it's only natural that any subset will look about the same.) Maybe you could set a better example for your children, by admitting your own mistake.

In recent years, multiple studies have shown that three out of four black babies are born to single mothers. And that two out of three black children live with only one parent (generally their mothers). In both cases, these numbers are by far the highest proportion of any ethnic group. Without a father in the home, boys choose poor role models; girls look for love in all the wrong places.

Do Messrs. Crump and Sharpton truly want to help? Perhaps they could start by calling their own people to repentance. Teach them to accept responsibility for their own bad behavior and poor choices. Until they do, they have no standing to blame anyone else. Eighty percent of all crime against black people, is by black people. But for some reason, we only talk about the 20% that isn’t. In the famous traffic stop that ignited the Watts Riots in 1965, even the defendant’s mother, Rena Price, freely affirmed his guilt.

Police body cams won’t solve this problem. We don’t need more lawsuits or government programs. We don’t need more hateful rhetoric against Whitey. Affirmative Action and school quotas are but quick fixes that make us feel good for a time. Stiffer penalties for hate crimes only increase the hate, and crowd our prisons.

We need more mothers like Rena Price. And Toya Graham.

And Gloria Hutson.


  1. I can't explain how much I love this post. No matter our skin color, it's our responsibility to raise our children into adults who care about each other more than themselves and who take responsibility for their own actions, and yes, even mistakes.

  2. Thanks for stating the obvious. Because many children seem to drift toward the victim mentality mindset, it is up to us parents to be intentional about teaching them to be responsible for their actions. Sort of like "raise up a child..."

    My hat is off to Rena Price, Toya Graham, Gloria Hutson, and my own mom.

  3. Amen! Too many of today's young people haven't been disciplined, aren't being taught responsibility, and are being raised with the entitlement mentality. Thank you for a great post of obvious truth.