OP-ED: A Teachable Moment in Baltimore


By Richard Wembe Johnson, Folsom Prison


The obvious misconduct and negligence of the Baltimore police in the death of Freddie Gray sparked community responses of “enough already” in that historic city and other similarly situated communities throughout the nation.


These demonstrations have cost Baltimoreans millions of dollars to pay the costs of the marches and the police responses.


But these demonstrations have emboldened the mayor, state’s attorney, the congressman and the U.S. Attorney General to reassure the public that they will pursue justice regardless of the costs.


During our recent celebrations of Mother’s Day, I reflected on my own mother, but I also thought of that single Baltimore mother of six who, with the whole world watching, took out her protective nurturing instincts by snatching her son from a potential ruckus, or a clash with the police.


She in her desire to keep him from violence bopped him upside his head, regardless of who was watching. The irony of this display of courage was that she undoubtedly could have been brought up on charges of child abuse because the law and society deems such behavior as unacceptable.


Instead of rebuking her for smacking her child, she was praised by many including such celebrities as Oprah Winfrey.


I think it is very hypocritical of our society to apply a double standard when it benefits the interests of their concerns. But, clearly in the eyes of the Child Protective Services what this mother did was against the law yet, they remained silent on the matter.


Please don’t get me wrong on this matter because I fully support what that mother did to safeguard her misguided son – 110%.


That’s what mothers do at the drop of a hat. This mother’s “SHero-ic” example should be applauded and other mothers, fathers and family members should take more action in protecting their loved ones.


I don’t condone child abuse, or any semblance of it. However, I fully support families supporting one another for doing their best to protect children in the midst of a crisis.


If this mother had not taken charge to protect her only son, who knows what could’ve happened in the wake of all that chaos. But, we now know is that her young man-child made it home safely as a direct result of the actions of his mother to save her son from himself.


What she did isn’t wholeheartedly embraced, especially within cultures that truly believe that a “time-out” will suffice in all instances. The point is always trust your instinct, do what is right, not necessarily what is popular when it comes to loving and protecting your own.


Right always transcends popular policy. When faced with a crisis involving your child, you’re only wrong when you aren’t decisive and don’t take an active protective role.


Many of the incidents that occurred in Baltimore provide teachable moments for us all.


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