My first reaction to the announcement that Mayor Brandon Scott and girlfriend Hana Pugh are expecting a child in 2024 was delight — babies are awesome and this one’s parents seem thrilled.
My second reaction? Shame and disappointment … in some of you.
The judgment started no sooner than when the 39-year-old Scott revealed his impending fatherhood; most of the pushback centered on the fact that the notoriously private mayor is not married to the mother of his child. Some of the criticism on The Baltimore Banner’s Instagram post breaking the news was based in respectability politics and moralizing. “Damn. The leader of the city made a baby mama. What a image to spread,” wrote one commenter, followed by a sad crying face emoji.
Others just went straight-up racist, like the commenter who referred to Scott as “just a thug,” or the author of an email The Banner received who wrote that it’s “sickening that you’d praise him for having an out of wedlock baby. One more Baltimore illegitimate black baby. This is our city’s biggest problem.”
OK. Wow. I’m gonna need a minute.
After much consideration, my well-thought-out response is: bite me.
I’ve read a lot of these posts this week, and I’ve been Black and Baltimorean all my life, so I know that underneath the vitriol about the mayor, his girlfriend and their apparently wanted and anticipated baby is a knee-jerk reaction to object to anything that Scott does. You hate him. You hate the city. You hate that he leads the city, even though you hate it. You might hate that the mayor is Black. Mostly, you hate anything positive coming out of his administration or Baltimore, and you’re willing to crap all over a stranger’s birth announcement.
Look at yourself. You ought to be embarrassed. You’re not. But you should be.
I’m going to go complaint by complaint here, knowing that the most angry of you aren’t going to read this because vitriol is seldom fed by facts. First of all, consider that Scott seems to have, until now, purposely kept his personal life personal, leading people to fill in the blanks that he’s gay — including in the comments of his announcement with Pugh. I honestly didn’t care one way or the other, because it doesn’t have a thing to do with how he leads the city. Not my business.
Then there’s the word “illegitimate,” which is nasty, antiquated and ridiculous. If a human being breathes, they are a legitimate human being. Assigning some sort of scarlet letter based on the supposed sins of someone’s parents is outdated and stupid. Marriage is great, if you want to be married. It’s not if you don’t want to. Scott and Pugh are apparently a heterosexual couple, which matters to some of you. And you mad. They created a life and they’ve decided to welcome that life. And you still mad. Abortion is still legal in Maryland, so there was a choice. You mad they made the one you claim to support? Interesting.
Now let’s move on to the outrage about him “creating baby mamas,” a terribly racially loaded term. Michelle Obama is married to her husband, yet people called her his baby mama. It’s about the assumption that Black women are immoral and unfit parents. “Are you going to marry this woman or are you going to contribute to the 70% out-of-wedlock birthrate for black children?” one commenter asked. Another wrote, “There’s a great decline in the black family and this is where it starts.” But some of you wouldn’t care if Pugh and Scott were married. You’d then go, “Here he is creating more people for taxpayers to take care of!” You would not be happy, no matter what he did. You mad because you like being mad.
Last, we’re going to address the assertion that Scott is an unfit role model. As one Instagram commenter wrote, “A man and leader should be held accountable.” HELLO? He literally put out an announcement calling his unborn child “Baby Charm.” He and Pugh wore matching outfits to Preakness. Do you know how big a statement matching outfits are? He’s committed. He’s accountable. Would you rather he not be involved and then be revealed to be ducking out on child support? What do you want?
Here is what you say you want: Black men who willingly and joyfully find a woman they love and are committed to, who create a child that they can afford to take care of without government assistance. This child is obviously cherished and will be well-loved and cared for. They will have access to a great education, health care and housing, whether their father remains in this or any other public office. They will not be a burden to you in any way.
Unless you don’t really care about the marital status of the baby’s parents. Maybe you just like hating. Maybe you’re a miserable person drowning in the wake of a changing city and world, and you channel your inability to evolve into being mad at a baby. Except for a wedding ring — and you have no idea what Scott and Pugh’s plans are — this family is what you proclaim the world needs more of. Couples who are solid. Together. Procreating. Well-paid and happy. So what’s your problem?
I have thoughts. But that’s on you.