i left a comment over @ womanist musings responding to a post about physical punishment. it’s pretty much a rant. but i figured i should post it here, too.
something that’s become apparent to me while reading this post and the related comments: each person who’s commented here has a particular amount of privilege that even allows them to be here talking about this. we all have access to the internet, whether at work, home, the library, a friend’s house, whatever. maybe there are socioeconomic issues that play into physical punishment being used as discipline. as the blog owner and another sista mentioned, they’re the products of fresh-off-colonialism parents from the caribbean. i definitely understand that.
for me, i see a lot of mothers and fathers (or other caregivers, like siblings) who lack one major thing: patience. they may have zero understanding of the way children (small children especially) function. when katt williams gave his thoughts on black folks publicly beating their kids, he wasn’t really wrong. he said, “your child is three years old; he’s supposed to like skittles!”
there’s a lot of misunderstanding. some of us are treating our kids like really unfortunate consequences of sex. others of us think that love is compulsory in parent-child relationships regardless of a connection between the two. how many of us (urbanites especially) have seen someone who appears to be barely 2 decades older than the child of whom they are in charge? & how does that manifest itself? slamming the child into a chair, yelling, being disengaged from the child when something big-person-specific is going on, etc. smacking the child, beating the child really seems to be the easiest way to release that pressure. the pressure of being exclusively responsible for a little person who is fully and totally dependent upon you. that’s a lot if you don’t even feel like you have your own life together.
that may not be the case with our parents’ generations, but it’s glaringly obvious with these younger parents in our communities. the same systematic lack of education, the systematic removal or lessening of resources, the cyclical violence & other ills, in my opinion, help create a toxic environment. add to that the violent society in the united states (this whole country was built on the backs of ppl controlled by violence AND land stolen from folks with epidemics and slaughter) and i think you pretty much have a prime environ for the “kick ass first ask questions later” approach to parenting i’ve become accustomed to seeing.
this is NOT to say that there aren’t exceptions.
this is NOT to say that we can’t teach each other differently, especially by relating to what exhausts caregivers.
& real rap, it’s not anyone’s place to determine what another person’s experience was or was not. renee, i could tell from the very tone of your writing in this post that you were exposed to something that in pretty much every circle would be considered abuse. levels of punishment, explanations for punishment, etc. are always a good idea no matter what your disciplinary approach is. there is no way to determine how punishments will affect your child.
but the bottom line is this:
the master’s tools will not destroy the master’s house. those of us who are the descendants of slaves are likely aware of the way that public humiliation & usage of weapons (whips, flip flops, shoes, ping pong paddles) tie directly into what happened to many of our ancestors. it’s not a coincidence. this system did not belong to our ancestors; it belonged to those who were in charge in the days of chattel slavery. period. & i think if more of us are able to think of it that way (not just those of us who have the luxury, like myself, of talking about it on the web), we may be able to change some things.