Warning: This is a two part post.

Toya Graham. Image via Screen Capture

Toya Graham. Image via Screen Capture

By Bougie Black Girl

I promised not to write about Baltimore. Forgive me all, but I feel compelled to do something that rarely is but needs to be done. I am defending a Black mother, Baltimore mom Toya Graham. You see many are upset at Ms. Graham because she unknowingly disciplined her son on live TV during the Baltimore riots.

Watch a critic here:


These people disagree with her actions. Instead of seeing her as a mom who was protecting her child, they’ve resorted to sexism by attacking Ms. Graham’s hair and clothing choices. They are asking why she didn’t nicely ask her son to come home because in their minds, she was reinforcing violence. They say she was reinforcing stereotypes of the angry Black woman, but those same critics are using racist stereotypes against her. They have assumed Ms. Graham is poor, desperate and lonely. Others called her an agent and wondered why she didn’t throw rocks beside her son. Some even blamed her being a single mom and asked where is the father. Isn’t this the same kind of thing these guardians of all things Black claim to be against?

I see it like this. As a mom of  two beautiful boys, Black moms can’t win. Either we are the reason our kids are dying or we should let our kids throw rocks at the police, become another martyr and be a picture on a Black Lives Matter poster. For some, if Black children don’t succeed, it is because of Black mothers and if they do succeed, Black children succeeded despite Black mothers. In this case, either Ms. Graham is a race traitor coon for grabbing her son off the street or if he were killed during the riots, Ms. Graham would be labeled as a horrible mother.

Before you fall back on your neverolutionary logic, check out what happened to Allen Bullock. Allen, who is 18, recently turned himself over to the police after being seen smashing in car windows during the Baltimore riots. His bail is $500,000, and he faces life in prison. Allen’s family cannot afford the bail, and he is still in jail. That is what the neverolutionaries wanted Ms. Graham’s son fate to be. Fighting for the cause! Are they willing to send Allen money? Will they pay for Allen’s defense? Instead of waging sexist and racist attacks, would they proclaim how Ms. Graham is great mother who gave her child up for the cause? If you are serious about your cause, why not get Allen out of jail? Put your money where your mouth is and donate to the Legal/Bail Support for Baltimore to help people like Allen Bullock out!

The people criticizing Ms. Graham ain’t worth a damn. They are invested in dead Black bodies lying in the street and filling up jails. While they are comfortable in their middle-class enclaves, getting interviewed on TV, writing think pieces, running off to the next crisis and getting paid, people like Allen and Ms. Graham deal with the consequences. Why else would they be against a Black mother saving her son?

Ms. Graham is a hero. She did the right thing and should be mother of the year. She bravely stood between the police and rioters. She saved her Black son from a prison sentence or death. Isn’t that the outcome the critics of Ms. Graham claim to want?

So keyboard warriors, neverolutionaries, think piece writers, cultural critics and academic elitist, our children will not be cannon fodder for your revolution. Our children will not be another bullet point for your resume. Our children will not be the next topic for your book deal, and our children will not be another face on a poster. We are going to do anything to protect our children. Fight, scratch, yell or what ever. If that means standing between your keyboard, TV time, your paycheck and the police, we will.

One more thing. I realize it is easy to send other people’s children to fight and die in wars. It is harder to support it when it is your kid doing the fighting and dying. So if Black lives really mattered to critics of Ms. Graham, I wonder if they are willing to make the same sacrifice they wanted Ms. Graham to make? Are they willing to serve up their children and grandchildren to the racist criminal justice system and end up where Allen is? Are they willing to watch their children be maimed or die for their cause? If not, they are full of it. We stand in defense of Ms. Toya Graham and Black mothers all over the world and I hope you do too. Critics, keep her name out of your mouth while we protect our children from those of you fighting keyboard wars and the police.


By Shanay Watson-Whittaker
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Shanay Watson-Whittaker

To My Dear Friends in Black Intelligencia, Leave Toya Graham Alone!

This morning, I went ham when I viewed a CNN segment featuring Black activist, Michaela Angela Davis. She was on Carol Costello’s show talking about Baltimore mother, Toya Graham – the mother who stopped her son from throwing rocks at the police. What was amazing was how easily Michaela Angela Davis adopted and used Black female stereotypes to describe Toya Graham. To soften her bigoted language, she added, “This is not an indictment of Ms. Graham.” Chile please! It was a total indictment of Toya Graham and poor Black women everywhere. The cringe worthy segment felt like it should have taken place at a wine tasting in a Hamptons’ beach house instead of on television.

In the segment, Ms. Davis described Ms. Graham as “desperate,” “poor,” and “lonely.” What the hell? How do you know if she is lonely? You know what, there are people within Ms. Davis’ circles who actually share the same opinion. Shoot, if you take Ms. Davis’ language and put former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s face on it, the same Black people agreeing with her opinion would go crazy! Today, if Senator Moynihan used the same language, some Black people would have declared a Twitter war on him.

We have a problem. We have a class divide within Black America. I like to lurk in Black Intelligencia circles and recently, I’ve noticed a pattern - the continued dehumanization of Toya Graham. Some Black elitists have called her a “symbol,” a “distraction from Freddie Gray.” Also, they’ve privately criticized her for yolking up her son publically. They said, she “emasculated him.” She’s the reason “why we need Black fathers in the home.”  There are elitist amongst Ms. Davis’ ranks that have teased, criticized, and cajoled Ms. Graham because of her accent and her slang. Oh and here’s my favorite criticism, the White media is using Toya Graham to “justify the abuse of Black bodies.”

People forget that Ms. Toya Graham did not ask someone to record her. So I don’t understand why Black elitist are demonizing and stereotyping her. They are treating Ms. Graham like a child that doesn’t know better. They don’t know her and will never have to experience her everyday struggles. One more thing, I am tired of Black Intelligencia sacrificing the plight of a Black woman for a Black man. We can expect justice for Freddie Gray and we can support and uplift Toya Graham too!

I identify with Ms. Graham. I am a Black mother of six kids, I am poor and I am unemployed. I am neither lonely nor desperate. Everyday, I am “trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents” and like Ms. Graham, I don’t want to be criticized for disciplining my children. Unlike some members of the Black Intelligencia, I don’t have to quote a rap lyric just to feel real.

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Shanay Watson-Whittaker

Shanay Watson-Whittaker is a Democratic activist and organizer. She was the former Chair of the Young Democrats of America Minority Caucus. Shanay is the owner of  the Detroit’s Jerk Shack, she is a motivational speaker, a blogger at La Femme Negrita and a genealogy enthusiast. She lives in Detroit, MI with her husband, Ken and their six kids. You can follow Shanay on Twitter as LaFemme_Negrita and you can reach her at [email protected].

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