Beating Black Kids: We Turned Out Fine?

“Spanking” children has been a topic of discussion in the world community, especially when it comes to the use of what is often called “corporal punishment” when disciplining children. The recent case of Greg Horn, an Ohio father who beat his two daughters with a cable for posting a video of themselves “Twerking” on Facebook was recently arrested and charged for child endangerment and corporal punishment after he posted a video of him beating the girls on Facebook that went viral. Author Asadah Kirkland, who examines this practice in her book Beating Black Kids, wrote a post for The Burton Wire discussing the problem with beating kids. Check out what she has to say below:

Ohio father Greg Horn,35, was arrested and charged with child endangerment and corporal punishment after posting a video of beating his daughter with a cable after they posted a video of themselves "twerking" on Facebook. (Google Images)

Ohio father Greg Horn,35, was arrested and charged with child endangerment and corporal punishment after posting a video of beating his daughter with a cable after they posted a video of themselves “twerking” on Facebook. (Google Images)

“I got spanked and I turned out fine.” Fine? As in okay? Is “fine” what we are aiming for as a people? I am beginning to believe “fine” is as far as we can socially reach. Black people often say this phrase as a rebuttal and excuse for using physical violence against our children.  It is supposed to lessen severity. We say it to diverge from looking at how whipping our children breaks their spirits. Take a look around and witness the condition of our communities.  Looking excellent or just okay?  For a race of people who have generational bootstraps to pick up, “fine” is unsatisfactory.

We got beatings and turned out fine? Well we are products of lynchings too and are still here. What does that mean? Yes, we know how to endure violence, but are we better because of it? No we are not.  Turning out fine has morphed into sagging pants, psychotic breaks of irrationality where we beat our children, film it, and put it online. Turning out fine has yielded absentee fathers, rampant molestation and relationship disintegration within our families. “I ain’t negotiating with no child!” Hmmm…no lessons of negotiation, huh? Yes.  I see.  And our children have no clue of how to negotiate their salaries.   One more march for higher minimum wage.

Holding one’s position in the Black community, against spanking our children, can feel like a trying and disheartening position to have.  We easily protest 400 years of slavery, segregation, police brutality, racism and countless other injustices done to our people.  But when it comes to hitting our children…there are no rules and inflicting pain on them is our God-given right.  It is how we “teach” them. We beat understanding into them and they better respect us when we are done. “We hit them because we love them,” is what I’ve been told. This distorted concept of loving and protecting our children by inflicting pain on them,  has been hindering our progress and cultivating relationships that hurt instead of heal. I liken F.I.N.E.  to Failing Indefinitely Never Emerging. We need help!

So what do we do?   Find ways to have our children turn out better than “fine.”  What can we do to build them up so they actually WANT to be excellent? BE EXCELLENT OURSELVES.  If they are to run their world, we have to arm them with the skills to do so.  We must raise our skills and not our hands to discipline them. Feed them pleasing memories. Flow them power. Breathe life into them and show them love. Not the “love” that demonstrates how you can provide as a parent.  That comes with the territory. Give the kind of love that feels good and coats their memories with admiration and respect for you. A society built on these intentions will prosper.

This post was written by ASADAH KIRKLAND, who is the author of “Beating Black Kids” and facilitator of “Raising Our Skills, and Not Our Hands” workshops. You can find out more about her book on Facebook and Twitter @asadahk.

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5 comments

  1. Angela

    It’s about time people started speaking out about a barbaric practice so ingrained in society that it is rarely reconsidered. Domestic violence harms everyone, ESPECIALLY the only ones not granted their equal protection of the laws they are entitled to.

    I wish people would stop raising children on old wives tales, anecdotes, and myths. Thinking that because they developed some paradoxical gratitude, otherwise thanking others for the damage done to them, then it must have done more good than harm.

    People need help, or they will only perpetuate that which they know. It’s difficult for them to do what is best for their child and strive for excellence for them, when that forces the traumas of their own childhood to reemerge. They become defensive and deny… it’s a vicious cycle. I say the law should step in, but I am one of very few on that forefront.

    Thank you Asadah. Characters like you fighting this system help me see the helpers that Mr. Rogers used to speak of, rummaging through a hidden tragedy.

  2. I cannot agree more with what Asadah is saying. I, like many of my friends, was beat/whipped/spanked as a child. Yes. I too, turned out fine. But, I’ve often wondered how I would have turned out had I not been beaten. The answer to that question is, I will never know. The same goes for kids today. If we don’t stop the physical violence (because THAT’s what it is… VIOLENCE), against our kids, and improve our child rearing skills with creative means of communication and other tools, how will you (as a parent or guardian) ever know how good, how excellent your child could possibly be?

    For the sake of your child, don’t you owe it to them to give them your best? Is your best effort one of violence against your child. I don’t believe for a moment that anyone can look themselves in the mirror and be at peace by answer, “yes” to that question.

    I believe we are better than that. And I believe we have far more potential to use our minds creatively to raise our kids than to settle for using violence as an easy answer to their non optimum behavior and conduct, and as an excuse not to find a better.

    WE CAN DO BETTER!

  3. IT IS SOOOO REFRESHING TO SEE COMMENTS WRITTEN BY SANE FOLKS! IT IS SAFE TO SAY WE “THE ANTI-SPANKIN” CREW, CAN SPEAK UP NOW. THE WRATH OF “SPANKERS” CAN FEEL ROUGH AT TIMES, BUT OUR VOICES ARE OUT NOW AND HERE TO SUPPORT THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF OUR CHILDREN…AND ALL OUR PARENTS OUT THERE TOO!

  4. A lot of people like to say, “I turned out alright,” and I beg to differ. Why choose ‘whipping’ when there are so many other options out there? You know why? People are LAZY, they want what they think will be a quick fix for a certain misbehavior. They are wrong. It doesn’t work and leaves lasting damage to the parent/child relationship and the child’s self-esteem that may never be repaired.

    I also disagree about discipline and punishment being the same thing. They are not the same thing; discipline means ‘to teach’ and punishment is ‘punitive.’

    I wish I had more time…

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