So yes, that mom slapping her son around and dragging him away from the protests in Baltimore.

I’m not a parent, but I can understand not wanting your child to be in the middle of a situation that could turn ugly in a nanosecond. How could I not understand that?

But …

While I am definitely feeling some kind of way about the fact that she is suddenly a media darling, being feted on the morning news shows and called a hero … one of the ways I’m not feeling is surprised. Is anyone surprised ? Does anyone honestly believe all the positive attention being showered on this woman is coming from a place of understanding her fear for her son and her urgent need to get him out of harm’s way? Because what I see is a media machine with an agenda. A media machine thrilled to death at the sight of a Black woman slapping the crap out of a young Black man. A media machine that has been pressuring every Black person it can get its hands on to condemn the protests (yes, Wolf, I’m looking at you, but not only at you). And this mother has served herself up to the machine wrapped in a glittery bow.

Watching the salivating anchors show that footage over and over yesterday made me sick. Do I think that mom shouldn’t have pulled her son out of the protests? Of course not. That’s her baby. She should want to fight for his safety. I just wish she’d found a different way to do it, a way that wouldn’t have been such a silver-plattered offering to the narrative white supremacist culture is pushing so hard every day, the narrative that spins this story away from the facts we should be discussing.

Sometimes moms need to slap sense into children’s heads — figuratively more than literally, I hope — but that’s not the solution to institutional racism. For the last day, folks have been trying to convince me that having more moms take an open palm to their kids’ heads is all we need to resolve these issues. As if.

But of course that’s where the machine wants to point us. Because if that could ever, in any reality, be true, a) there would be no reason to talk or do anything about structural racism, racial prejudice, a history of violence and injustice against Black people, or the ways that history continues to play out in our day to day lives; b) white supremacy would get the every-night pleasure of seeing Black mothers beating their children on television, which would c) confirm the stereotypes of the angry Black woman and the good-for-nothing young Black man; d) white supremacy could sit back and relax because all of the it’s-not-about-race race problems could be laid at the feet of bad Black parenting, all those Black mothers who haven’t beaten their children with sufficient intensity to solve the world’s problems.

Still feeling a lot of different kinds of ways.


I Am Beautiful when I’m Angry

What nobody knows is that my anger and I are growing closer. She has revealed herself to have a sensuous, molten core of rage, and I have revealed myself to have a ravenous attraction to it. Deep gold fire coating my fingers like honey each time I dip in. She doles it out slowly, allowing my system to adjust to the weight and power, the gift. But the world accelerates the process, dashing salt on every bite, intensifying the flavor, expanding my hunger. Every body left in the street. Salt. Every officer unindicted. Salt. Every media hack shilling for white supremacy. Salt. This rage — rich and thick, with the sweet burn of cayenne chocolates and tamarind candies, no less potent for surfacing in words. Delicious. Mine. 

As I did last year, I’ll be following along with the Poem-A-Day challenge at Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides Blog. Today’s prompt is to write a “what nobody knows” poem.

You can post your daily poems on Brewer’s page. The top poem from each day will be included in an anthology later this year!


Are you writing poems this month? Where can I see them?
Let’s share this craziness!


2 thoughts on “Gift-Wrapped

  1. you pinpointed my discomfort with that video of the mom and her son. I certainly understand her fear for her kid, but the more I saw it, the more it looked like a stereotypical sit-com scene, as well as conjuring Daniel Moynihan’s old canard about the “dysfunctional Black family.”


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