In the aftermath of the Baltimore protests over perceived police misconduct we saw that a viral video and TV promos of a mother who grabbed and physically manhandled her child in the chaos- she was celebrated for intervening in preventing him from lawless behavior.
The moment was simplified as though it was the “answer” to the perception of children, in fact- a community and a (Black) culture that is out of control. History and experience can never be so simplified, but it offered an insight into perceptions of the problems and solutions to the outrage.
I am glad that the mother took matters into her own hands to protect her child, but long-term solutions call for giving youth, especially those who feel marginalized a sense that they are valued in society and have the possibility for productive participation in building a better world -one that serves everyone equally and promotes growth and engagement for all. Ideally, feeling included, cared for and productive happens at home and ripples throughout the community.
As a society I believe we have made wonderful progress. In the United States we are fortunate to experience so many freedoms and advances in technology and science, however the human spirit also craves for belonging, access, safety, nourishment and love. It is not necessarily the role of government to provide these attributes, however anything that we can do at the personal level and globally to engage youth in a way that lets them know they are valued will go a long way in healing the wounds of racism and other forms of marginalization that has occurred over time. As individuals feel like they are a part of a useful enterprise that values their input, they are more likely to engage with purpose and success.
We could go back and dissect what kind of family background the child has had and all of the ills that may have led to unacceptable behavior, but the greater question is “what can we do with the current generation and current circumstances to prevent cycles of family dissolution and marginalized behaviors in response to feeling like second class citizens?”
Understandably the cycle reinforces itself as behavior is broadcast that suggests groups of people should not be treated kindly, it may harden the hearts of those who would otherwise sympathize; however I would ask that we look from the vantage point of those who are angry and determine whether prior to their behavior, there was not a seed of bias as to their worth vis a vis those who are considered “the standard”. Should there be a hint in our hearts that we did not have the same value placed on those individuals, we can imagine that they experience it manifestly and exponentially on a daily basis; and it takes root and may be expressed in ways that we cannot appreciate -but it is still screaming to be listened to.
May all lives be valued equally; may voices that are speaking in ways we cannot hear be listened to and may we forge along as a society towards valuing each other’s reality and responding to injustice everywhere.