I’ve been rather amused by the whole Toya Graham corny viral saga that has issued from the Baltimore riots.
I call it “corny viral” because it is corny. Very.
Videos and cultural memes can go viral for any number of reasons. One of the possible reasons is that the video represents an effusive load of corniness which captures the vacuousness of the public’s unwillingness to think critically. It’s reactive, group-think that is behind the genesis of every Corny Viral incident.
In the case of Toya Graham, all the ingredients for Corny Viral are there. Her story has been all over the news for several days, but my point is not to comment on the nature and righteousness of her actions, but about the public perception of them.
Toya Graham was “attending” the Baltimore riots early this week, ostensibly as an observer, when she caught sight of her son, Michael Singleton, preparing to launch rocks at the police. She went all sensible-mad-Black mother and whipped his head around in plain public (and camera) view.
On the heels of such a destructive, violent, and emotionally exhausting day, this is exactly what the American public needed to see. Good, wholesome, retributive and accountable corniness. Graham and her aggressive parenting represented everything Americans secretly wished Black culture constrained itself to do when no one is watching. It was great showmanship and it fed the starved neuroses of a complacent White culture that hasn’t the balls or fortitude to be honest with itself, much less, its peers. The same White culture that blames everyone, everyone, except the perpetrators and criminals, because after all, they are oppressed and ostracized by ruling White culture, so who can blame them…right? And by the way: there is quite nothing like swarming the streets, setting fires, looting and robbing, to help sway the oppressor toward the side of benevolence. White liberal guilt is shameless, and worse, blind.
And now it turns out, it’s the same White liberals and Black Career Victims who are suddenly proclaiming Toya Graham as “mother of the year” and who appear spellbound by her strong motherly response (which none of them would ever consider applying to their own children in the name of all that is sensibly parental and culturally acceptable in the 21st Century).
And the Black Career Victims whoop it up at the images of the mother beating her son around the head despite the fact that if it were a cop or other authority figure doing the same thing to their sons, the act reflexively becomes abusive, racist, and oppressive, and meets the minimal requirements for a good spell of violent civil disobedience and looting.
But when Toya does it, everyone cheers. None of these people mention that it was Toya, and not “Tom,” who needed to physically restrain and punish Michael Singleton. There is no male figure anywhere nearby. Where is Mr. Singleton?
Perhaps this is the real problem, but people enjoy the Corny Viral script which involves the adulation of the big bad kick-ass mama, a racist archetype in itself, no?