Sisters, This Needs to Stop!

I’ve wrestled all weekend about whether or not to blog about this. I decided that I can’t NOT put my opinion of this on my own blog that celebrates Black women. To ignore this issue would be hypocritical of me.

I didn’t see the video. I probably wouldn’t have been able to watch it. By the time I got wind of the incident, the video had already been taken down from YouTube, and no one else would show it. That told me something right there…if nobody was willing to show it, then it must have gone past the “cheap laugh” point. Just be aware that I’m putting this out here based on other people’s accounts of the content and my own personal experience on the subject.

For the record, I advocate corporal punishment as part of an effective plan for the discipline of children. What I will NEVER be in favor of is the physical, verbal, emotional, and/or psychological abuse of a child. I personally know the difference. I have taught children for 42 years. I have been the daughter of a toxic mother for 48 years. I have raised children who were not mine by birth, and some of them were hard-headed boys. No one on earth gets to tell me that I’m not qualified to render this opinion.

The scenario is typical in Black American culture, especially back in the day (early 80’s and back, before I got to high school). Mother gets a call at work that her child is acting up in school. Mother takes time off to go to the school to handle the problem. Every Black person in America knows what happens next: that her child would absolutely be sleeping in a bed of welts that night. As adults, we laugh at those memories (because we ALL can relate to them), but as children, there was nothing funny about that encounter. It was humiliating, and the child would learn not to make Mother come off her job to the school ever again.

It made for effective discipline then. Now…it’s become something else.

Nowadays, too many Black girls and women are getting pregnant and having children for all the wrong reasons. Yes, I said it. They “want something that loves me unconditionally”, “don’t want to be alone”, “got pregnant so he’d stay with me–’cause he’s not like the thousands of other boys/men who walk away!” Things go south, and now they’re stuck with a child that they never wanted and have to take care of by themselves. Add to that the inherent pressure of being Black and Female in America, and you’ve got a sense of why “angry” Black women are angry. I get it.

But none of that justifies taking ANY of that anger out on a child. No child asks to be born, or to be born at the wrong time in the mother’s life, or to be born to the wrong woman! Children are not your personal dumpster. It is not their function to take the garbage that mothers can’t dump on anyone else. And let’s be honest…the only reason some mothers hit and abuse their children is that they bank on their child not fighting back.

Don’t bank on that forever. I’m a witness.

I gathered from the hundreds of comments that this mother was over-the-top abusive. Not only did she rain down nine levels of hell on this wisp of a boy, but she also cursed up a blue streak while doing it, calling him the n-word several times. While other adults stood by, and one of them recorded it. That is not love, and that is why some wise people took this mother’s children away from her. Thanks to “Madea”, Black mothers proudly joke about going to jail for hitting their children.

Sisters, we need to stop this.

I don’t want to hear that “maybe she was having a bad day”, or “maybe she’s got mental issues”, or “maybe this is just how she was in that moment”. Let me repeat myself for the people in the back–there is NO justification for taking your adult frustrations out on a defenseless child. Your child is your responsibility, not your property!

I hear you all in the back: “Well, that’s what my mom did to me, and I turned out fine.” “It didn’t kill me, so it won’t kill them!” “That’s what kids need these days!” “If we don’t do it at home, then the police/society/the white man will do it for us!”. I get what you’re all saying. I’ve heard it for decades, more so when I was a child. You’re not going to like my answer to what I consider the “slave mentality”.

To those who think that they “turned out fine”, let me enlighten you. If you’re full of alcohol, weed, or some other mind-altering substance at any point in your week, then you didn’t turn out fine. If you are incapable of healthy, positive communication with other human beings, then you didn’t turn out fine. If you ever flash back to the worst of your parents’ “discipline”, and it stops you in your tracks–even for three seconds–then you didn’t turn out fine. If you can’t tell the difference between teaching a child right from wrong and beating him like a dog because you’re mad at them, then you didn’t turn out fine. If you survived being broken like a horse and you think that it’s perfectly okay to break your own child in the same way, then you absolutely did not turn out fine.

(BTW, I’ve encountered many children who needed discipline, but I have yet to meet the child that needs to be assaulted, publicly degraded, and bombarded with racial slurs by his own mother.)

Yes, there was a time in Black American history when Black parents had to condition their children to be submissive to the white slavemasters, to behave themselves when the white children weren’t, and to obey without question or backtalk. When Black Americans were slaves, they weren’t allowed to look like they had a problem with horrible treatment. They weren’t even allowed to cry. It was a matter of life and death, of having a job and being jobless, of trouble and no trouble. It was the way that our world worked.

Worked. Past tense.

News flash…our world doesn’t work that way anymore. At least, it doesn’t have to. Yes, that Pig in the White House turned the clock back sixty years, but that doesn’t mean that we have to turn back with it. Yes, life in Black America is still a struggle, with many unreasonable demands put upon us and all things still not being equal. Beating a child into submission does not keep him/her out of trouble anymore. In these yet-to-be United States, being innocent does not save you from white America. Remember that, despite his “conditioning”, Emmett Till was killed for something that he did NOT do.

Today, White America dehumanizes our children, regardless of their behavior. Dehumanizing them at home does not solve the problem. That just does White America’s job for them.

Sisters, this needs to stop! Toxic parenting needs to stop! Damaging our own children in the name of “discipline” needs to stop! Brutalizing our children to keep hypothetical white authority from doing it needs to stop! Recording abuse for validation from fellow abusers needs to stop! Passing down the ignorance of the slave mentality needs to stop! Our children are going to get targeted by a racist system regardless of how they act, so this needs to STOP!

Yes, children require discipline, but we need to cultivate a loving, more humane way of carrying it out. If the best thing that you can say about the discipline you received as a child is “it didn’t kill me”, then maybe you didn’t get disciplined. Maybe you just got obedience training, like an animal. Black America, we are not animals. Once upon a time, we were treated like beasts of burden, but that is not what we were. It is not what we are, and it is NOT what we have to be. Let’s prepare our children for the world that they will live in, not the one we came from. Let’s raise our children to be intellectual, dignified, ambitious, cultured and, yes, respectful human beings. Let’s cultivate young people who will finally overcome.

Sisters, let’s do THAT.

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