Black Kids Matter Too: We Must Stop the Public Shaming of Black Youth Online

by Ogechi Emechebe If you’re an active social media user, you’ve probably seen this new trend o...


by Ogechi Emechebe

If you’re an active social media user, you’ve probably seen this new trend of parents taking to the internet to discipline their kids. In the past week alone, countless videos have surfaced, from a step-mother giving her stepson an "old man haircut" for smoking weed, to a mother berating her 13-year-old daughter for posting racy photos to Facebook while posing as an older woman. These videos can sometimes result in more than mere punishment, as this week, it was reported a teenage girl committed suicide after a video of her father cutting off her hair as punishment was posted online.


I’ve noticed this trend is especially common among Black parents, with each new video seemingly trying to one-up the other. As these videos gain popularity on the Internet, I’m gaining frustration with the methods Black parents are using to “discipline” their kids.

Parents who take this route are seeking their 15 minutes of fame, along with validation from the public that they’re doing their job right. “These bad ass kids gon’ learn today!” is usually the sentiment among viewers when videos of black children being whipped or beaten are shared online. Corporal punishment is a popular form of discipline in the black community; I have friends and relatives, myself included, who grew up in households where beatings were “normal.” The irony in punishing Black children this way (regardless of whether it’s shared on social media or not) is that parents are doing exactly what white supremacy requires them to do: participate in the dehumanization of Black children.

In a scathing Facebook post by author and child advocate Stacey Patton, she eloquently summarizes how this plays out:
I have been arguing that a white supremacist society REQUIRES that black childhood be brief, that it be destroyed, and that black children be viewed as indistinguishable from black adults in order to deny them the privileges and protections of childhood and to legitimize their serial dehumanization and murders. Think about how Trayvon Martin was described as ‘a young man’ and not a scared teen, and how there was this perverse focus on the size disparity between him and George Zimmerman. The defense attorney actually brought in a block of concrete to demonstrate how that boy could have used it against his attacker. Or how Mike Brown was described by Darren Wilson as a ‘demon’ and ‘the Incredible Hulk.’ Or how 12-year-old Tamir Rice was mistaken for a 20-year-old man when he was killed.
Spanking in the Black community is directly linked to slavery, as masters whipped and savagely beat their slaves as a form of control. Often times, mothers beat their kids in front of their master to further prevent him from carrying out the punishment himself, which would be more brutal. Black people across the Diaspora have been conditioned to believe physical violence AKA “whooping that ass” is an effective form of punishment. As I see more beating and punishment videos surfacing online, I can’t help but wonder why inflicting pain through shaming and abusing Black children is celebrated in our community.

Such tactics participate in dehumanizing Black children by breaking their self-esteem and contributing to America’s agenda to cease Black childhood before it begins. In a world where Black lives don’t matter, children’s bodies in the Black community are often used as a scapegoat to release pain and frustration, to control and oppress in the same ways Black adults face oppression in society.

Let me explain that I’m not here to police how parents rear their children, but we need to have open, honest conversations on discipline and why we believe resorting to violence is the best way. I don’t necessarily find fault with open fisted smacks on the buttocks or the lower body region, but I cannot condone using belts, switches, electric cords, or other objects to inflict pain upon a child. If a child is bleeding, has cuts, gashes, welts, or can’t go to school the next day because school officials will ask questions, that is child abuse. Period.

Look at how Black people ran to Adrian Peterson’s defense for brutally beating his son. Peterson whipped his toddler like a damn slave, inflicting cuts all over him and folks had the audacity to dress it up as an acceptable form of punishment. Look at the hypocrisy—we get angry when white people view and treat Black children as adults, but we view our toddlers as satanic beings that must be beat into compliance?! We gotta beat the “thug” out of our sons and the “hoes” out of our daughters so we can save them?

Save them from what?

We’ve been duped. We’ve been brainwashed into subconsciously viewing our own offspring as inherently criminal. Why do we wail when our kids are disrespected or killed outside the home while we begin the breakdown of their existence inside the home? Why do we get upset when others humiliate our kids in public, yet we proudly shame them on social media? It’s time we pay attention to the brutalization of Black children in the house and stop turning a blind eye to it.

Each time we cheer parents for bringing out a belt, we’re teaching our children there’s no safe space in the world for them. They can be beaten or raped in the streets, only to come home to encounter more violation of their bodies. The public isn’t safe, the home isn’t safe, and on top of that millions of people around the world can now gather around their phone screens and laugh at Black children being “disciplined” online.

We are raising a generation of broken adults. This vicious cycle of shattered self-esteems begins in the home and the aftermath is clearly playing out all over the country. Black children are not the enemy and they too must be protected, as adults demand to be protected from America’s racist, sexist, and otherwise oppressive ways. We must find better ways to discipline our kids. We must show them they are worthy and show them that we love them.

Black children’s lives matter too.

Photo: Facebook / The Daily Mail

Ogechi Emechebe enjoys reading, writing and cooking. Her topics of interest include gender equality, social justice and healthy lifestyles. She describes herself as a gym rat with a slight obsession of eating healthy. Email her at emechebe1021@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter @IgboGirl21.

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