While I was following the Obama-Gates-Crowley controversy in the last few days, another police-related controversy was unfolding in a small California town near where I was visiting family. Both incidents had this in common: "yomama."
"Yomama" is "your mama" said very fast, a brief and pithy insult we used to toss back and forth at each other at Willard Junior High School. It implies all sorts of unspoken insults about the recipient's mother.
There has been a lot of talk about whether or not Officer Crowley's arrest of Professor Gates was based on racial profiling. Not having access to the inside of Officer Crowley's mind , I don't know the answer to that question. Clearly the incident, and Obama's response to it, sparked an important national dialogue about racial profiling, bringing an issue out into the open which African-Americans , Native-Americans, and Latinos have been dealing with for years.
But from what I've read, it seems that Officer Crowley decided that Professor Gates had really stepped over the line when Gates started insulting his mother.
In the tiny town of Pine Mountain Club, a report about alleged police misconduct had surfaced just a few days before. Seems there's this guy sitting in a bar, and a police officer comes in to talk to him, motive for talk unclear. At some point in the conversation the guy in the bar, a white guy, says something nasty about the mother of the police officer, also a white guy. At least that's what an out-of-town witness reported overhearing from the cop.
Out come the handcuffs. That guy was also arrested for 'disorderly conduct'.
I'm beginning to think that 'disorderly conduct' is a euphemism for saying 'your mama' to a cop.
I'm not a mama, but I am a woman, and I'm sure I'm old enough to be a mama to plenty of young police officers who are trying to learn how to respond in difficult situations.
So here's my suggestion: Get over it, your mamas can handle it by themselves.
Don't get me wrong. I understand that there are all sorts of pressures on officers of the law, and sometimes the 'your mama' comment can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
So if you really feel like you simply can't just stand by without doing SOMETHING
when somebody who doesn't like your uniform starts hurling insults about your mama, here's another suggestion:
Instead of pulling out the handcuffs, just throw it right back at them like we used to do at Willard Junior High School in Berkeley, California. I'll even share one particularly fun little 'yo mama' rhyme that we used to toss around the playground:
It goes like this:
Your granny granny got a hole in her panty
Got a big behind like Frankenstein
And that ain't all
She got a bubble gum jaw."
This ditty is best done with lots of posturing, jumping around and twisting up your face to look really tough.
As police officers, I'm sure you can pull that off.
That way,next time, you can avoid the handcuffs, the newspaper reports, and dragging into the mess the President of the United States, who I'm sure has better things to do with his time.
Like getting me health insurance so I can fix my bubble gum jaw.