Why is the Baltimore mom a hero? Because she is

Hands down, the hardest part of parenting — aside from teenagers — is how quickly people will judge your parenting, as if parents don’t already judge themselves enough.

Take the woman who tried to slap some sense into her son at the riots in Baltimore, and has gotten plenty of national attention for it.

Was it child abuse? A popular tweet today from ProPublica race reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones suggests so.

But this isn’t Adrian Peterson discipline being dispensed and, yes, context does matter.

It’s not a game in Baltimore. The cops have guns and the woman didn’t want her kid killed in a riot.

It’s easy to criticize parents in the absence of information. Let’s meet her.

Her name is Toya Graham. She’s a single mother. And she appeared on CBS This Morning today.


(Video link)

“My intention was just to get my son and have him be safe,” she said. “I knew that whole scene was not safe; it was not safe at all.”

She was at the doctor’s office when her daughter called and told her what was happening in the streets.

“To see my son come across the street with a rock in his hand, I think at that point I just lost it,” she said.

I was pretty much telling him, “How dare you do this.” If he wanted to stay home to go to the (Freddie Gray) funeral, I would have allowed him to do that. But this was unacceptable.

I find myself shielding my son where there’s a lot of these young kids out shooting each other, and a lot of his friends have been killed, and so my thing is I just want to keep him in the house, and I know he’s going to get out.

He’s been in trouble before and he knows right from wrong. He’s just like the other teenagers that doesn’t have a perfect relationship with the police in Baltimore city, but you will not be throwing rocks and stones at police officers.

At some point, who’s to say that they don’t have to come and protect me from something. And they might not want to. Two wrongs don’t make a right and I just wanted to make sure I had gotten my son home.

She just lost her job, she said. “It’s just me and my children. I don’t go out. The only thing I do is church, and it’s me and my children and my grandchildren.”

When she saw the video and the big deal the country is making about her, she thought, “Oh my God, my pastor is going to have a fit.”

She said of news video of Freddie Gray in a hospital bed, “As a mother, that is just devastating to see and we don’t have any answers. And that’s what’s frustrating to us in Baltimore city.”

How does this go over with Hannah-Jones?

Update 10:50 a.m. – Hannah Jones replies:

Hi. Your column is a great example why you should have actually contacted me about my tweets before writing an article based on a faulty interpretation of my tweets. The point of my tweets had nothing to do with the mother’s actions (I don’t weigh in at all about whether she should have hit her child about the head) and everything to do with the way the media framed the story. In other words, the exact pitfall you fell into.

I actually never say, as you assert, what the mother did was abuse, or allude to it. In fact all the tweets I sent and my conversations on Twitter were about the way the media used this incident. If you actually read my timeline, as opposed to three tweets, you’d see that I constantly told people tweeting with me that I was not addressing the mother or her actions but the media portrayal.

In other words, you just got it wrong and you should know better.

In your “piece,” you write, “It’s easy to criticize parents in the absence of information. Let’s meet her.” Perhaps you should have followed your own advice and, in the absence of information, reached out to me instead of basing an entire piece on a false narrative. It’s called reporting.