Scarlet Letters

The not-so-private thoughts and rants of Elizabeth Donald, journalist/author and founder of the Literary Underworld.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

No cheering please

Witness the story of Shannon Cooper, who was arrested at her daughter's high school graduation for cheering. Apparently the school had requested no one cheer until the end in order to expedite things, but Ms. Cooper yelled, "Yay, my baby made it!" when her daughter crossed the stage.

Ms. Cooper was then escorted from the auditorium by police. Um, and then she was handcuffed and placed under arrest, driven to the police station and charged with disorderly conduct. There she was detained for several hours until she was allowed to post a $225 bond and go home, where the graduation celebrations had to be postponed.

I have many thoughts on this. Sure, we've all been at events where obnoxious parents annoyed us. I once had to change seats at my son's orchestra concert two times because of parents who would not control their rambunctious toddler (who could not possibly be enjoying the concert anyway; try a babysitter) and a trio of snotty teenagers making fun of the kids on the stage in loud voices (so why are you there?). And, of course, the rude parent at the Little League game is a constant trial.

Sometimes we wish there was an authority figure to remove loud people so the rest of us could enjoy the event (especially in movie theaters). But I have never wished for someone to be arrested. Well, maybe those snotty teenagers, but that's just the mama bear in me.

Was she really loud? I don't know, but apparently others cheered and were not arrested. No one has accused her with hurting anyone or resisting arrest. Did we get the whole story? My preferred source of Myrtle Beach news didn't cover it, unfortunately, but I got the same details from two primary sources. Her sole offense was cheering for her daughter.

Then I read the comments on that story. See, the paper made the error of running the mother's picture: she's black. And that changed everything for the folks in her town.

Here's a sampling, so you don't have to subject yourself to all of them. I did not trouble myself to correct the spelling.

• "Hoochie Mama say.... In just be ackin' dat way cause my home girl suckseeded."
• "I can't imagine Ghetto Mamma getting disorderly..... come on now...."
• "Big mama hooped and hollered, started bouncing around with her big jugs flopping, was yelling "oh lawdy!" several times. Fell to the ground pretending to faint, then got up and fanned herself."
• "Black people have and make their own rules."
• "And now you know why racist say that blacks have no self control, because so many of them don't."
• "Big black gal thought she could bend the rules. Many big black girls do, I see it everywhere."
• "maybe they were arresting her for exposing her child to crack while expecting."
• "Now take a look at that face. Do you think she just stood up and simply "cheered"? Or did she stand up and scream her damned fool head off like some cosmic voodoo banshee?"
• "Is that the only day your mama went to jail? I would pay the fine...IF baby girl's daddy was there."
• "We all know about the decorum of black people when it is time to cheer for anything."
• "Black acting like a typical knee grow, getting caught and then whinning about being caught. What else is new."
• "Blacks cant help it they cant follow the rules...Thats why the jails and graveyards are full of them just sayin what everyone knows to be true idiots..."

There were repeated references to the probable absence of a father, the mother's tattoo and body size, and many more written in, to put it charitably, a snide approximation of urban ethnic slang. That's the nicest way I can put it.

Such as: "I was all like YO you po po donut eatin scumbags! Muh mum shouldn't had dun bin rested like dat - you mo fos! She had been dun just tryin to espress how proud she bes of me. They aint be nuttin rong wit dat yo!!! She won't tryin to axe disrespefful - she just be so proud of her baby girl. I wish my dad could had been dere, but momma say she aint know who my dad be. You can rest assured dat dis smack aint be ova yet!"

And my "favorite":

"Here's the solution: segregation. Blacks can have their own ceremony where they can whoop it up. With the number of blacks graduating, it should only take 15 minutes or so. Then the humans can have their ceremony."

That comment had two "likes" as of this afternoon.

I think I have a better idea of why Shannon Cooper was arrested instead of merely removed from the ceremony. And I think we have a long way to go.