Over the past two days, two videos featuring black parents videotaping their forms of discipline have made their way onto my Facebook timeline. Please watch both of them in their entirety, I have some challenges with what’s being displayed.
First, I’d like to discuss the young ladies and their father beating them. Yes, beating them. Let me the first to say, I hope he gets arrested on a domestic violence or child abuse charge for the way he went “slave master” on the two girls, presumably his daughters. Aside from the anguished screams, what really bothered me was just the concept that violence results in corrective behavior that is relatively prevalent in many segments of the black community. Not to mention the pretty lively chorus of re-posts on Facebook that supported the father’s response of beating the girls with some type of cord.
I’ve brought up my issues with corporal punishment surrounding the ouster of a private Catholic high school principal at the historically black St. Augustine school here in New Orleans and the way in which he was vehemently in favor of it and how the majority of the alumni were supporting him; the archdiocese removed him because of his stance on this one singular issue mind you. The archdiocese said that St. Aug was the only school in the nation that still had school sanctioned paddling. The nation. And we as a community saw nothing wrong with being the hold out in this area.
So for long time readers, this should be no shock where I come down on the issue, but I feel it must be brought up again: why are we so nostalgic to a violent means of corrective behavior? I mean, do we honestly, literally believe we can beat it out of them? Whatever that “it” is? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard family members and other people make small comments about how they should have whooped a child more and they wouldn’t have these behavioral problems. Not to mention, I’ve had family members convinced I never got whooped as a child because of my behavior; and yes, I got my fair share. I really wonder, based on how I turned out would my parents have used that same tactic again. I’ve come to the conclusion that had you removed those whoopings from my childhood that I would have turned out about the same.
Now I’m not talking about the random wop upside the head or the swat on the buttocks you give a child every now and again, but these full out assaults like we saw from this father to his daughters have me shook. I’m sure for many adults, this brings back memories, perhaps some painful because of the words spoken, rather, the lies told by the adults that did this to us:
“This hurts me more than it hurts you.” Well that’s a damn lie. And if it truly did, then what twisted perverted person are you that you’ll continue to do it.
The violence of it all bothers me. I’m more convinced that it’s the parent working out their own frustrations with the child than the actual need for the child to experience violence at the behest of a parent. It’s this Old Testament deity embodiment it seems where the parent takes on this God-role of “shall we receive the good from God and not the bad?” concept that’s a tough enough concept for adults to grasp, but asking a child to understand this never-uttered-or-expressed ideology is absurd!
Society is already violent–too violent. I’ve discussed in this space the pornography violence that is just a part of the American culture ad nauseum, so to see this disturbs my soul on a level that leaves me verklempt as I try to write these thoughts coherently. Rather than beating the girls for making a twerking video (which we all agree is highly inappropriate for their age) I have some questions about where were the parents in the first place that girl this age had enough free time to make a twerking video? I’ll admit I came up in an age when there were barely cell phones, and camera phones were something of still future and YouTube and WorldStarHipHop were completely unheard of by the time I graduated high school. Meaning, I didn’t have to worry about things like that, but if the parents have the ability to upload a video to the internet of them beating their child, they should have enough savvy to be watching their children to possibly prevent something like this happening.
Aside from the father thinking that beating his child was appropriate in the first place, allowing a videotape to be uploaded to the world wide web is complicit in spreading the pornography of violence I spoke of earlier. It’s bad enough that the parent did it, but it’s another thing to broadcast it for the entire world to see. This violence on YouTube of random fights at a gas station or Denny’s getting trashed after a club let out is just as bad as the videos on WSHH of my brothers displaying their guns, their drugs and the untold number of sex tapes of young guys running a train on a[n albeit willing] woman.
Not to mention, I’m a bit sickened by people who watch this and amen it as though we’ve solved the behavioral problems in our community. “Yes, we’ve now solved the problem to young girls being in Twerk Team videos–if only their fathers would beat them,” someone said sarcastically.
So where to start with this young man and his father humiliating him.
Again, I’ve blogged about the whole skinny jeans fashion amongst black males before, so to see it again as an issue bothers me. (Editors note: as a blogger, I feel like John the Baptist or some Old Testament prophet who consistently says the same thing over and over again because the more things change, we still seem to be having the same issues over and over again!) If I said it before, it bears repeating: it seems to be that American society has a problem with the sexuality of black males. Black men wearing skinny jeans, or even your basic slim fit, isn’t so much a fashion statement to many as it is a sociological statement on sexuality and frankly I don’t know from where it stemmed.
At the dawn of the hip hop era in the early 1980s, we finally saw the relaxation of fashion norms that moved away from the nut-huggers and bell bottoms of the 1970s and the dungaree foolishness from the 1960s and back and we saw blacks, namely in the urban centers, wearing these deliberately fashioned oversized jeans to which a previous generation just saw it as wrong and foolish and the typical type of ornery stuff that older people do (think like the movie “Footloose”). The Fab 5 from Michigan State came on the scene with their baggier jerseys and by then being black and basketball were synonymous and suddenly in he early 90s a whole culture emerged from the underground to being prominent in the eyes of the country–the good and the bad.
And then saggin’ started.
I personally don’t buy the argument that it’s part of the prison culture that spilled out because I’ve yet to see a credible study that proves this; as far as I’m concerned this meme is nothing more than a scapegoat for those who are blinded by the aesthetics of seeing a man’s butt on display with underwear. But this “you know that’s from the prison culture” has become some what of a hallmark in the politics of respectability where this is a “tut-tut” moment that the upper echelon use to associate with the “undesirables.” This is further compounded because of the association that to sag is to be considered gay–and more specifically that you are a man who wants to be penetrated by another man.
This is problematic on a multitude of levels because once the fashion changed from the baggy oversized clothes with the names RocaWear, FUBU and Akademiks to black urban youth actually buying clothes that fit their bodies at Aeropostale, American Eagle and Abercrombie & Fitch, then yet again, to wear these clothes they were being called gay. What this father does in this video comparing his son, nephew, or whatever the relationship is to another female in the family is a direct challenge to the young man’s sexuality and gender identification and specifically, to his maleness. Regardless of his sexuality, biologically, he is a male and this older man calls that into direct question when he says “I know yo’ nuts hurt!”
As I said in a response on Facebook, regardless of one’s aesthetic appeasement toward slim fitting or skinny jeans, I know of no male that would willingly wear jeans that would render one’s junk wholly uncomfortable. And let’s be honest, maybe some people don’t need as much room as others. I would allege, the young man, who’s the object of this older man’s sexually charged humiliation (I’ll get to that in a moment) wouldn’t buy nor wear clothing that was uncomfortable to whatever his, shall we say, package, would allow.
To watch a grown man enter this gray area that mixed basic sexual humiliation that you might see amongst male peers in a locker room or something and put it in this perverse almost pederastic relationship, and then videotape it which brings in this voyeuristic aspect to it is almost mind-boggling to me. No, I really don’t think I’m looking too deep into this because this all is a make up of the psyche of the parents and could potentially do some irreparable damage when these children get older. I mean, these children are unwilling participants in their own international humiliation. These three children from these two videos can be 30 and 40 with children of their own and these videos will be searchable in some shape or form.
My challenge to black parents is simply to not participate in the pornography of violence. It’s one thing to choose to discipline your children as such behind closed doors, but to choose to post these videos for the viewing public is tantamount to distributing a sex tape (re: pornography) for the voyeuristic pleasure of a random watcher. It results in an orgy of violence that the whole nation can participate in that does nothing to further our community.
And I’m specifically talking about black parents.
I’m sick and damn tired of being in public venues and seeing black parents talk to their small children recklessly and is if they have no sense; the vile language and what not are symptomatic of someone possibly even failing them resulting in a circular system of “hurt people hurt people” rather “hurt adults, hurt children.” Am I saying that there’s a direct link between parents that commit this type of violence, be it physical as with the father and the daughters or the mental abuse as what may potentially manifest with the father and son–no more of a link with saggin’ and the prison culture–but I am saying that it does contribute to this larger problem we have with violence in our culture.
What the father did to his son was bullying. It was typical schoolyard bullying, that seems to have went over like a lead balloon; the son was laughing and obviously there were other kids in the house laughing. But, it was the type of “turn around and let me see” humiliation you’d expect from some young woman caught in a sex slave trade or a slave on an auction block. Again, if you think I’m going too deep, then think of any other moment in history when it was okay to display another human body, one partially naked even, and to mete out a level of humiliation and sexually tinged as well?
Simply stated, we can do better as a parenting community and I daresay, we have to do better. Our survival as a community, a culture and a people are depending on it. I am not suggesting that suddenly we need to have soft parenting, but it’s clear that there are more than one way to skin a cat and certainly more than one way to discipline your child. To the parent that says “That’s the only way he listens to me,” I question how many other ways have you really tried. And there are those “old school” parents like my father who knew no other way of disciplining a child. While my father never knocked me into a wall or committed just heinous acts of violence like that, I am sending notice to parents that those methods are old and at many times outdated and just don’t make cultural sense for the next generation. Even if this is from larger “spare the rod, spoil the child” nonsense from a proverb over 3,000 years ago, if that’s the case, we might as well still be stoning people in the public square. Honestly, if societal concepts of public and state executions have changed, I think it’s okay to amend our child rearing techniques.
From a larger sense, we’d all agree society has progressively gotten more and more violent over the past generations, so why do some feel that more whoopings and more of what we saw in those videos will somehow be the agent that provides the tipping point to address the larger problem of violence? And of course, when these girls show up to school on Monday morning and they’re the subject of the taunts and jeers from their classmates, they lash out and maybe get in a fight, the father is going to come back home and beat them again? Honestly, where does it stop.
This is what generational curses are–not some supernatural force that randomly has brought evil upon a family, but rather generation after generation doing the same broken thing over and over and no one letting a new thought or a new way of doing things be entered in the mindset of a family. So I say to anyone who’s reading this: spread the word, there’s a new way of raising the next generation and it is not through violence.
Keep it truthful and keep it uppity, JLL