Baltimore mom, Toya Graham, exemplifies role women play in the absence of male role models

Video screenshot

Baltimore ‘Woman in Yellow’ Plays ‘Oriole’

The yellow she wore on camera signifies the substitute role females play in the absence of the male 

Since it’s gone viral, few have not seen nor heard of the Baltimore “Woman in Yellow.” Now dubbed #MomOfTheYear, Toya Graham was caught on film sternly disciplining (even whacking) her son in the street after seeing him on TV participating in the riot.

“At the end of the day, I don’t want my son to be [another] Freddie Gray,’ said Graham, referring to the 25-year-old Black man who died from injuries allegedly 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 species of New World birds whose males are black and yellow or orange. I drew an analogy from the fact that Graham — like many single female parents — is 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?

Golden Oriole in natural habitat - male Oriolus oriolus shutterstock_207932614
Photo by: aabeele

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, which stereotyped and mischaracterized Black males 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 offenses.

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 substantial 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 29 the Orioles hosted the White Sox to an empty stadium due to the civil unrest. Can you imagine a regular 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 home run? Now imagine disengaged, disenfranchised Black children living their daily lives with 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! –larry buford

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