Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When Kids Engage in Hate Speech

RMJ over at Deeply Problematic had a very good post yesterday about a boy that was paid one dollar to swear and use racial slurs.  The video was taped and then placed on youtube.  Thankfully, the boy's mother reported this to the police, and the adult that posted the video was arrested for impairing the morals of a child.  As RMJ pointed out in her piece, this is far from a rare occurrence.  Many adults seem to think that it is funny to get children to act in ways that are racist or otherwise socially hostile.  This is extremely harmful, and in my mind constitutes a form of abuse even if said child benefits by learning to forcefully maintain an ism.

There are far too many that believe that their hatred of a specific group of people is natural; however, just like many things in life, we are actively taught to hate difference.  We learn to internalize the false believe  that difference mean less than, with the understanding that this is the way to gain privilege and power -- but the double edged  sword also means that we are contributing to our own marginalization. Children are born into a very specific discourse, but when parents either through direct or indirect action, support a hierarchy of bodies, they learn to perceive this world in very specific terms that have us continually clawing and fighting to be at the top of a socially constructed pyramid of power. And while we cannot ignore power, because it is in everything that we do and everywhere that we go, we certainly do not have to tolerate the idea that power has to be coercive to be of value.

The following video has been posted on several blogs today:




a 7 year old girl is playing a video game when she is given a mike to speak.

Transcript:

Child: You know what nigger boy, we just won. Ha Ha ha.  You know what motherfucker you better play another game because you know what you are going to lose again.  Go play monopology okay
Adult: Cause this ain't your game
Child:  This is a new kind of game that you want to play with us, 'cause we'll fucking kill you okay. Bring it
Adult: 'cause you don't know me. You don't know my mom
Child: You don't know my motherfucking mom my dad. Do you have anything to say or is you afraid? You can't do motherfucking nothing. 

The video goes on, but I trust that you get the point.  This child is hostile, racist and ignorant, but she cannot be blamed for her actions.  Even though almost everything that she says is offensive, it is the adults in the room that encourage her to continue with her tirade of ignorance and hate.  They have abdicated their responsibility to this child, because they seem to find her behaviour mildly amusing.

As I watched this video, I felt nothing but sadness for this little girl, even though she said the most vile of words.  Children do not naturally say this kind of thing, unless it is normalized for them.  Even though most of us will look at this and blame the adults in the room, how many of us daily abdicate our responsibility towards children because they are not our own? Children are always seen as someone else's problem, until they become adults and start breaking the law.

We fail to provide support systems for struggling and often overwhelmed children.  We under educate them.  Adults are continually hostile when children attempt to share our living spaces and they are often patronized at every turn, unless they can be coerced into nagging their parents to purchase the latest slavery made, plastic piece of crap toy.  Then a video like this shows up, and people have the nerve to say what the hell.  How can anyone possibly be surprised that a child is behaving this way, when we have worked so hard to ensure that they are aware of exactly how unimportant they are?  Of course they are going to take the tools that we have taught them to use and turn around and abuse someone they see as vulnerable. I think that while we are watching this video, wondering what the hell this child's parents were thinking, we should also consider what message we ourselves are sending to the children around us.  A wild, misbehaving child is not just a problem for their parents, they are a problem for society, or did you think they suddenly disappear when they turned 18 to become good adult citizens?