By NICK CHILES
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is the target of severe public and pundit criticism after the mayor let down his guard and allowed his true feelings to shine through following a fatal shooting in Philly that left three teens dead.
While I agree that politicians must be held to a higher standard in controlling the words that fall from their lips, I was not disturbed at all when I read the mayor’s comments because he didn’t say anything that nearly all of us would have said in the privacy of our homes when we heard the details of this tragic and ridiculous shooting.
Apparently the dispute started on Facebook. That’s already enough for me to start fuming. How does something that started on Facebook result in three children dying? Anyway, when a car full of teens, age 14 to 16, showed up to beat down another kid, the 30-year-old stepfather of the intended target pumped so many bullets into the car that three teens—two 14-year-olds and a 16-year-old—wound up dead.
In response, the mayor erupted, calling the shooter “a dog” and lashing out at Philadelphia parents who could let something like this happen, telling them “not to act like idiots and assholes.”
“Seven young people, somewhere between 14 and 16 years old, on a Tuesday night, a school night, are out in a car going to somewhere to have a fight with some other teenager. That is completely insane, it is irresponsible. Parents have to know where their children are and what they are doing,” the mayor said.
“Their little butts should have either been in bed, getting ready for bed, or doing some homework. Not out in a car, not in some other neighborhood, and not up to this kind of nonsense. I’m not your mom and I’m not your dad. We cannot completely legislate, or by policy, make people responsible for their children.”
The mayor added, “The least you can do is know where the hell your kids are, in the daytime, in the nighttime, or at any time during the week or on the weekends. That’s the minimum we should ask and expect from our parents. You want to have kids? Take care of them.”
Who among us hasn’t thrown out those last two sentences, in response to some outrage on a national stage or as local as your kid’s classroom? It is the essence of the social contract that we as parents all unwittingly sign when we decide to bring a child into the world. To an extent much larger than any of us are comfortable with, we all have a responsibility to help raise each other’s children. Just think about it: any major failings among the parents in your child’s peer group ultimately will come snapping back at you and yours with a vengeance. That mom down the street lets her junior high-aged daughter go to school in makeup and high heels, at some point it becomes an issue in your house. That dad in the next neighborhood lets his 14-year-old son get in a car with a bunch of other too-young boys and go looking for trouble, the trouble may wind up at some point on your doorstep.
Nutter perhaps could have been a bit more delicate in his choice of words—a mayor is usually not going to win over a lot of constituents by calling them “idiots and assholes”—but we have to at least thank him for the refreshing honesty that has given the issue of bad parenting a national spotlight.
We all know that even when we are 100 percent attentive to our kids they are not going to be perfect. They will make mistakes. Things will sometimes get messy. But as a parent, we still need to be there with them every step of the way, through every mess they might get themselves into. If we do that, perhaps Facebook can remain an innocent source of teen flirtations and insults, rather than the staging ground for a triple murder.
1. Kemba Walker And the Get Over Syndrome
2. Losing His Cool: Author Thomas Chatterton Williams Breaks Down Black Boys Vs. Hip Hop
3. Black Boy Swagger, Black Mom Fear
4. Gang Rape in Texas: When Will We Stop Sacrificing Girls In Defense of Black Boys?
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.