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Being ‘mama’s boy’ nothing to brag about

June 5, 2007 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

Sons should be respectful, but able to make sound decisions

Being a “mama’s boy” is not a good thing. We don’t really want our sons growing up to be mama’s boys. But after sitting through a loud hip-hop performance by a 15-year-old at Rainbow/PUSH’s women’s luncheon Monday, and then hearing from the relatives of two young people who are at the center of recent violent tragedies, I think the message bears repeating.

As mothers, we want our sons to love and respect us, but we also want them to be capable of making good decisions. And when they don’t make good decisions, we want them to accept the consequences so that they can learn from their mistakes.

Frankly, I was taken aback that anyone would think it was appropriate to have a rapper provide the entertainment at an occasion billed: “Women: Standards of Dignity, Decency and Equality.” As far as I could determine, the young artist didn’t utter any of the raunchy lyrics that have come under attack since Don Imus’ on-air meltdown after he insulted the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.

Still, given the topic, I couldn’t appreciate being entertained by a young man screaming: “I’m a mama’s boy. I kick it like that.”

When you deconstruct the excuses families make when their children get caught up in criminal activity, it’s clear to me that in too many cases, partly because of the absence of fathers in the home, we are dealing with a lot of out-of-control mama’s boys.

Worse yet, while many of us condemn the behavior, when the perpetrators are black males we still find a way to make excuses.

In the case of Michael Pace, the 16-year-old accused of fatally wounding Blair Holt and shooting four other Julian High School students, one of his aunts in my column blamed his deadly actions on a “learning disability,” claiming he was so desperate for acceptance that he could be easily led.

Dead infant’s dad lived with mother
One of Pace’s male cousins called me to object, calling that a mischaracterization.
“Being uneducated is no excuse,” said the cousin, who asked that his name not be used. “People don’t want to take responsibility. In our family, the women raised their daughters to be strong, but their sons could do no wrong. So while the women in the family can take care of themselves, the men didn’t turn out as well.”

The “mama’s boy syndrome” also appears to be at the heart of the tragedy involving the 23-year-old woman who, last week, allegedly put her newborn in a plastic bag and left it in a closet.

When I talked to the woman’s aunt, she lamented the fact that her niece, who has two other children, became emotionally unstable after each of the births. And that the children’s father, a 29-year-old man, still lived with his mother.

This attitude of denial may appear not to have anything to do with “Standards of Dignity, Decency and Equality” — except when you really think about it, it is sadly ironic that it took a jerk like Don Imus to get black women riled up over the offensive language that has stereotyped a generation of black women.

Demand the respect
We still haven’t taken responsibility for our role in allowing our image to be exploited, and we’ve treated offensive rappers like a bunch of mama’s boys. In fact, the black community gave Black Entertainment Television a pass, even though the formerly black-owned cable network was the biggest promoter of negative stereotypes against black women.

So it would have been refreshing had Debra Lee, President of BET — the keynote speaker for the Rainbow/PUSH event, apologized for the network’s role in creating an environment that fostered the likes of Imus. That didn’t happen, for the same reason the heads of major music companies refused to even publicly address the fallout over degrading lyrics in hip-hop music.

As women, we will have to demand the respect,” C. Vivian Stringer, head coach of the Rutgers women’s basketball team, pointed out at the luncheon.

And as women, we have to raise girls who have self-respect, self esteem and self-discipline before we can effectively challenge those who exploit black images, noted Linda Johnson-Rice, president and CEO of Johnson Publishing Co.

As Stringer told a group of young people who attended Rainbow/PUSH’s town hall meeting on hip-hop, “What other nationality of people do we know where the music is loud and profane and everybody is making money for degrading us as women?”

I’m sorry I didn’t tell the young entertainer that being a “mama’s boy” is nothing to brag about.

Because the message in the music is where it starts.


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