A Black Mother’s Subway Conversation Puts Police Brutality in Perspective


During my train commute to work this morning, two black mothers were discussing how their children are growing up so fast, and that led to discussing the urgency to “discipline them more.” Their reasoning was the fear of losing them to police officers’ bullets.

“The cops are going crazy, they are killing women now. I used to think I would be treated with decency since I’m a woman, but you saw what happened to Sandra Bland,” one mother added. “From now on, I will just put my hands behind my back and say either yes sir, or no sir. And I will raise my child that way.”

This sad, small exchange of words adds more context to the video of the black mother slapping her son in Baltimore’s protests in expressing the true objective of police brutality, creating a state of fear and submission to power. Instead of actively challenging racism, white-supremacy, and state terrorism, black mothers are being pushed by the fear of losing their loved ones to police their own children instead. A military strategy also practiced by the Israeli Army against Palestinians that led some Palestinian parents to punishing their children for throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, or even participating in demonstrations.

A feeling of inferiority is being normalized again and again with these killings of young unarmed black men (and women now), and how the media portray them as appropriate measurements against the “savages.” A feeling that led this mother to say: “I need to discipline my son more so he doesn’t get killed and hopefully less-jailed.” These mothers aren’t worried about education, quality of life, nor social justice; they are just worried about staying alive.

Even though this reality is not new to me since I experienced it first hand in Palestine and read about it in the USA, it breaks my heart to hear this reality check from these two poor mothers.

Yes, it’s important to listen to these families and share their stories so we can better understand the outcome of police brutality. However, it’s pivotal to contextualize these atrocities within the framework of capitalist power structure which breeds greedy policies, like the prison industrial complex, to increase political domination and profit for the 1%.


This short interaction is another lesson for us to reiterate that the struggle of the marginalized against injustice goes beyond fighting police brutality; our fight is with the multinational corporations that dehumanize us and thrive on our blood and sweat.