Hello, Georgia. I respectfully disagree, believing ALL lives matter.
Sadly I met people who believe otherwise, raising their children to become potential rappers who express in the performances the child abuse their moms subjected them to.
This is one example of the many tragic human events I witnessed in Brooklyn and other NYC communities. It is also an example of people in a community failing to police themselves by not reporting child abuse, or having the capacity to recognize child abuse when they witness it.
One evening a call for police service brought me to a young mom’s second floor walk-up apartment in a private dwelling, she was reporting the theft of a Boom-Box radio taken from her kitchen window sill by someone trespassing on her building’s fire escape.
Entering this young mom’s apartment I observed several children, some in diapers, a few older, sitting on a living room couch, an aluminum fifty-five gallon, half-filled trash can was sitting right in the middle of her tiny living room, as if it was her coffee table. One of her living room walls was smeared with several dark stains of what I believed to be human waste.
I calmly recorded her theft complaint and left, immediately reporting my observations to my sergeant who instructed me to contact child welfare. Forty-five minutes later the children were removed from this mom’s care, temporarily placed in the custody and care of the people of New York City.
Sadly, this was not my only interaction with this mom.
Months later I arrested her younger brother for robbery. According to the victims and one witness to this act of violence who recognized her brother from the neighborhood, he placed what appeared to be a handgun in the face of two victims and threatened their lives while demanding and taking their property.
Until she arrived at the precinct to protest her brother’s arrest, I had no idea my young prisoner was related to the mom whose maltreated children I caused to be taken from her months earlier. At the top of her lungs, much like Michael Brown’s father when he was recorded reacting to the perceived injustice to his family member, she adamantly insisted her brother was not a robber.
I showed her the gun I recovered from her brother’s pocket, I told her one witness knows her brother from the neighborhood, still not convinced she came very close to being arrested for becoming disorderly and refusing to leave the precinct station house once her business was done. Later I learned that she appeared in court when her younger brother was arrested months earlier for an unrelated robbery.
What was the point of lying about her brother not being a street thug, when there are public records indicating she knew he was committing acts of violence toward people months before she looked me in the eye and vehemently denied her brother is a robber?
I believe I know the answer to my own question. Again, I have no formal training in understanding why people tend to act the way they do, however based on my life experiences I believe Boom-Box mom lied to me without a care or second thought because she was raised to believe lying and denial is how people cope with uncomfortable situations..or..she never acquired and developed the critical thinking skills required to look past living in the moment, or the “here and now’.
Time and time again I interviewed adults and teens who lied to me about easily verifiable facts, often placing themselves at risk for being arrested for obstructing or impeding criminal investigations. Is this something most people with average critical thinking skills would do?
After every day or night’s work I had a 30-40 minute commute home, which gave me time to reflect on the day’s events, how I responded to them, and what I learned from them. Many nights I would drive home with a smile on my face, thinking to myself, “Holy smokes, I can’t believe I get paid to have this much fun identifying and locking up dangerous people.”
During many of these winding-down, reflective moments I would actually experience a euphoric feeling of being “high on life.” For me, at that time in my career, chasing down seriously dangerous bad people who illegally armed themselves with firearms for the purpose of committing mayhem on a mostly peaceful population of working class and poor fellow Americans was the ultimate high, as well as a fringe benefit of police work.
In many cases after taking an alleged dangerous person into custody, I had the opportunity to speak with them and gain ‘some’ insight into what makes them tick. I have no formal training in psychology, however, after meeting and talking with many people who are alleged to have committed crimes in this community, I personally concluded many of the people I arrested were raised and nurtured in environments that lacked real love, understanding, caring and guidance.
Driving home after my first interaction with the aforementioned Boom-Box mom, I thought about her values, her understanding of what is expected of the people who nurture our children, her consideration for laws that society imposes on all people who assume the serious responsibility of rearing children.
I concluded Boom-Box mom was “clueless,” lacking good judgment and skills in all areas required for her to be a good nurturer.
I asked myself, “What is going on in the mind of a mother who invites a law enforcement official into her home, in which she has created a environment for her children that posed a serious risk to their physical well being and health, as well as their psychological development?”
“Does she not realize what she is doing to her children or how her clueless behavior can imprint and affect them for life?”
“Before calling the police did Boom-Box mom not realize society enacted laws protecting her children from the physically harmful and emotionally abusive home she created for them?”
I have to believe Boom-Box mom’s method for parenting is a learned behavior, instilled either during her own upbringing or gleaned from the people she is friends or associates with. Which leaves me wondering if Boom-Box mom ever invited friends or guests to her apartment, and if she did, why didn’t they report the apparent maltreatment and emotional abuse she was exposing her helpless children to?
I am not trying to be harsh by characterizing Boom-Box mom as totally “clueless.” I believe she is a victim of a society accepted cycle of dysfunctional family and community environments…from birth, it appears Boom-Box mom was not shown what a loving environment is made of, it’s difficult for me to be mad at people who are victimized by the recurring cycle, and it certainly makes me better understand why so much rage, anger and frustration exists in the hearts and minds of young “black people” who are raised in these environments.
If I was being raised in the cycle of poverty by a “clueless” parent, as I mature, learning more about the world and witnessing how others are having fun, prospering, loving their families and lives, more than likely over time I’d be real upset, simmering, maybe even rage as I aged and my home environment does not improve.
I think about Boom-Box mom’s children and what they have to look forward to, what skills does she offer her children…what goes through her baby’s minds as they gather around the trash can mom placed in the middle of their living room, day after day watching television depicting the good lives Americans of all backgrounds are enjoying?
What really saddens me……is knowing, based on my experiences, that Boom-Box mom’s “clueless” mindset is replicated by mom’s and parents throughout this community. It saddens and angers me that little kids are in many cases, doomed from the start, or before they are conceived.
When I look back at the environment my parents created for me and how I responded to that environment, I realize my goals were to please my parents by respecting and appreciating what they were doing for me. And most importantly doing my best not to disappoint them because they loved me and made sure I knew it by actively being involved in my life, and aiding me in shaping my life as I developed into a peaceful person who felt loved and cared for.
Two immutable rules in our household were impressed upon me at a young age, “Always be truthful” and “Before judging, wear the other person’s shoes.” Thinking back mom and dad never used the word “empathy” when admonishing me for not thinking before I shot my mouth off, they always said “wear the other person’s shoes.”
I am thinking if my mom and dad placed a trash can in our living room, ignored feces smeared on our walls, got sis and I removed from their custody because they were not providing basic care for me and sis…I am thinking I’d be a pretty messed up kid incapable of embracing the concept of empathy, or purposefully not showing empathy for others because my life sucks and I don’t care about others.
Or perhaps I’d use my intentional lack of empathy as a means to peeve or ‘get-back’ at my parents by engaging in anti-social behaviors that would eventually get me arrested, causing my parents to recognize that I exist, or depending on their views of the police, causing them to interact with authority people they may not necessarily like or trust, thus peeving them.
As I wrote, my experiences occurred years ago.
Recently I looked at current crime stats for this community and learned there has been a significant decrease in reported crimes, though there is still a good amount of violent crimes being committed.
If society continues failing to monitor caregivers who require public funds to raise, nurture and support their children, these kids will continue to be raised in environments like the one Boom-Box mom created for her kids.
I am hoping when camera technology proves its mettle in protecting police officers, as well as identifying officers who require further training or officers who have no business serving the public in a LE capacity, we will use that same technology to protect children by monitoring the common area of homes in which caregivers have established a track record for failing to properly raise, nurture and/or supervise their children. Especially in communities with higher crime rates where kids are more often exposed to some/many neighbors with a mindset for lawlessness.
Recently I watched a video that saddened me as well as enlightened me when I learned child welfare investigators test the hair of child abuse victims for “ambient” exposure to drugs. Holy smokes, the numbers were critical. At the least cameras would expose signs of intoxication in homes identified as requiring extra care to prevent children from being emotionally and or physically harmed.