*Since it’s gone viral, few have not seen nor heard of the Baltimore ‘Woman in Yellow’ who was caught on film sternly disciplining (even whacking) her son in the street after seeing him on TV participating in riot activity. Identified as Toya Graham the single mother of six said, ‘At the end of the day, I don’t want my son to be [another] Freddie Gray’ referring to the 25 year old black man who allegedly died from injuries sustained while in police custody. His death and funeral sparked unrest that escalated to rioting in a Baltimore community that’s historically been overlooked and is distrustful of the police.

The Baltimore Orioles baseball team was named after Maryland’s state bird the oriole – a variety of New World birds of which the males are black and yellow or orange. I drew an analogy from the fact that Graham – like so many single female parents are forced to play the role of both mother and father. The yellow she wore on camera signifies the substitute role females play in the absence of the male. Where are the black male figures?

It is well documented how joblessness and the systemic institution of welfare set the stage for eroding the black family decades ago. In a nutshell, the more babies a woman had, the more benefits she qualified for as long as there was no able-bodied man living in the home. Able-bodied or not, how can a man work to support his family if no jobs are available? The great deception and divide had begun.

Then came the film and music industries who stereotyped and miss-characterized the black male as pimps and gangsters with no morals or restraint in their evil deeds. Many impressionable young black males bought into the glamorous lifestyles that were being portrayed only to find themselves incarcerated with penalties much harsher than their white counterparts for equal or lesser offences.

Although there are some mentoring and community outreach programs available, by and large when most blacks reach an economic level to move out, they seldom give back to the communities from which they came. Understandably, what’s the incentive if state governors, local politicians and city officials don’t work together to target blighted communities with substantive resources like quality schools and teachers, job training and job opportunities (what good is training if jobs are out of reach)?

The ‘Woman in Yellow’ also brought to fore another issue about parenting – that is disciplining your child. Is it better for a parent to severely discipline their children, or for a cop to beat them with a baton or even shoot them? The government needs to stay out of parenting – giving kids ‘rights’ to claim child abuse for a good healthy spanking is wrong. Yes there are some abusers out there, but greater is the percentage of those who are responsible and who love their children enough to level punishment befitting the misbehavior. If children cannot respect authority in the home, what do you expect when they’re out in the streets confronted by the police?

On Wednesday April 29th the Orioles are hosting the White Sox to an empty stadium due to the civil unrest. Can you imagine a season game with no cheering, no waves and no audience to hear the crack of the bat as the ball is hit into the stands for a homerun? Now imagine disengaged, disenfranchised black children living day to day – no cheers, no encouragement, and no audience to tell them we’re behind you and we support you? The image of the ‘Woman in Yellow’ says a lot!

baltimore mom (toya graham) in yellow