Friday, September 16, 2011

Dear Black Community: Beating Children With Belts Is Not Discipline, It's Abuse

I came across the following video on facebook, and it triggered me to the point that my whole body is shaking and I am crying.  If I didn't wholeheartedly believe that the beating of children with belts needs to stop, I would not post this video or comment about it, because the personal cost of watching the video, let alone writing about it, is extreme. 

Please be warned, this video contains both emotional and physical child abuse.


The following rolls on the screen:

According to the sentencing project, 1 out of every 8 black men are in prison & 1 out of every 3 black men today are expected to go to prison. According to the 2009 census: there are 2, 500 00 black people are in college. Only 919,00 are black men.  There are 827, 680 black men in prison/jail. "It still takes a village to raise a child"

Apparently a little Black boy has been acting up in school.  He has already been spoken to and beaten once for this behaviour.  The father takes him into the bathroom and questions him about his behaviour with a belt hanging loosely around is neck.  The child is very obviously scared and answers yes sir, no sir to the questions while never making any kind of contact.  The father makes it clear that he is there to learn not horse around.  He asks whether the boy is acting up to impress the girls and when he says no, the father suggests that he is acting up for the boys, thereby implying that the child is gay. As punishment, he tells the child that he is not allowed to have any hair on his head until he learns to behave and then proceeds to shave the childs head.  He stops part way and takes the child into the hallway and demand that he remove his pants.  We can then hear the father striking the child repeatedly with a belt while the child screams and begs him to stop.  In response the father tells him that this isn't hurting him and that he needs to stop crying. He further goes on to state that he is going to give the child a reason to cry and then beats him some more.  In the next scene we see the child outside with a tear streaked face.  The father makes him run, crab walk and then do push ups.  When he realizes that the child did the push up on his knees he accuses him of cheating and demands 15 push ups.  At the end of the video you see the child doing a push up with strain more than evident on his face with the words job well done on the screen.
Okay, if you made it this far I commend you, because that video was extremely triggering for me to watch, as someone who has received this kind of so-called discipline from my parents.  The child in me ached, as I listened to the sound of the belt landing on his tender young flesh.  Beating a child with a belt does not cause them to behave differently. If that were the case, the father would not have had to beat him a second time.  All it does is create animosity and break down trust between parent and child.  Who wants to ask the person that beats them for help when they are in trouble or fear that they have done something wrong?

Not only does this child have to go through the humiliation of having his head shaved against his will, the beating and his reaction to it were filmed and released to the public.  This is not the first time I have seen Black adults film the beating Black children. and then place it online for the purposes of shaming the child into conforming to their desired behaviour.  Whiteness does a pretty good job at making us look like savages, but videos like the one above are completely the actions of Blacks themselves.  You don't beat someone who is weaker, smaller, and does not have the experience to make certain decisions or understand consequences.

Claiming that this form of abuse is to fight the racist penal system only creates a new form of oppression and emboldens adult privilege, as well as child abuse.  Black people are in prison because we live in a White supremacist state that is determined to impoverish and criminalize Blacks, not because we need to beat our children more. Don't Black kids have enough to deal with growing and learning in a society that fundamentally hates them, without piling even more abuse on their plates from the ones that are supposed to love and protect them?

Have we been so far removed from slavery, that we have forgotten that this is where the behaviour of beating Black people comes from.  When massa was unhappy, it was down to the whipping post for the slave that caused his discontentment.  The only difference this time is that it is not massa that is inflicting emotional and physical harm to our children, but our own community.  For god sake, if you don't know how to parent or discipline properly, don't have kids or take a damn class, but please in the name of heaven, stop beating our precious Black boys and girls.  

I will forever be triggered by the memories of my own so-called spankings, as well as the sounds of brothers dance with the belt.  Watching this video, brought all the pain and anger back and though I know intellectually that my parents thought that they were doing what was required, emotionally I have not now, or ever will forgive them for this, and I am a grown woman.

All children need discipline and boundaries, and there are many ways to achieve this that get the point across.  You can send them to bed early, or assign extra chores. My house is never so clean as when the boys are grounded.  Discipline should not leave scars that last a lifetime and in the end, it must also teach a worthwhile life lesson. What did this boy learn but to fear his father, and that it's okay for bigger people to beat on smaller people?  Violence begets violence and if the first place we experience violence is in the home, it can take a lifetime to unlearn it. Being a good father or a good parent means being there for your kids; it does not mean being the one to potentially scar them for life.

Editors Note: Any comments that I consider to be anti child will be deleted and the commenter may be subjected to a permanent ban. This post was triggering enough to write, and I will not have this comment section turn into an unsafe space.