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Dear Black America, I am a Black mom who doesn’t believe in spanking.

This is in response to some people justifying Adrian Peterson beating his four year old child with a switch. He has been charged, indicted and released on $15,000 bail for reckless or negligent injury to a child  in Montgomery County, Texas. Read more about it here.

Infant Sucking Finger Dear Black America,

Accept it. Some of us  don’t believe in spanking, beating or hitting. Just because I don’t make my kid pick switches from a tree or have a belt specially set aside for beating my kids doesn’t mean I want to emulate Whites or something other than Black. It is insulting to even think that way. For me it is the opposite. Because of Black American history and how our ancestors spirits were broken, through beatings and whippings, I find it repulsive. If I have to resort to hitting a child it means that I am lazy and failing them as a parent. I prefer to talk and reason with my kids. But that is just me.

Quite honestly I am also not surprised that some Black folks are defending beating kids or are even mad that I don’t. Why? Because violence is all some people know. They see nothing wrong with violence because it is normalized dysfunction. Heck, some don’t even see beating as violence. That could explain Worldstar’s popularity and their justification because their grandma and momma did it and they “turned out fine.” Those folks in turn will beat their kids too. That cycle of violence doesn’t sound fine to me. Look beating children with switches, belts or other objects like a run-a-way slave is not acceptable. Ask Child Protective Services. Better yet, don’t worry. They will ask you when they visit. They don’t care what bible verse you quote.

“In 2004, a Child Trends’ analysis of the General Social Survey [pdf] .found that “94 percent of non-Hispanic black women, compared with 72 percent of Hispanic women, 65 percent of non-Hispanic white women, and 46 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander women, agreed that a child sometimes needs a ‘good hard spanking.'” Is Spanking a Race Issue, New York Times

I believe that Black folks who justify the beating of children do so because it is a multi-generational learned behavior directly from who? The slave masters. They are only OK with beating children because their mama did it to them, granddad did it to her, great granddad did it to him and great granddad’s slave master did it their great granddad. It is all they know. It is kind of like a post traumatic slave disorder.

“Beyond its immediate impact on behavior, spanking increases children’s long-term aggression toward peers and others. Parents who spank are, in fact, modeling violent behavior, which young children in my own studies have described as unfair and ineffective. Spanking also is linked to a host of harmful effects on children’s well-being: increased anxiety and depression, impaired cognitive development and academic performance, lower self-esteem and, sometimes, bruises and broken bones. ” “Spanking Is More a Product of Stress Than Race”, New York Times

When I see kids get beat I feel like we are taking, contouring and breaking their little spirits into something we want them to be. What is that? An empty unthinking shell of themselves. A shell who is obedient, unquestioning and dependent on authority, just like the slave masters did to the enslaved. Check out the stats. Kids, especially Black children aren’t doing well now. I suspect all those ass whipping sessions y’all claim are legitimate forms of abuse, I mean discipline ain’t working.

I believe as parents we must teach our children to use their heads and think instead of using force and violence. Violence begets violence and it sure won’t end inequality in America. Ideas and action will. Ten years from now I don’t want children to romanticize family beatings as the grand and great grand children of the formerly enslaved do. That is dysfunctional. By the way, I don’t care if White people do it or what the same bible used to enslave my ancestors said. I am not talking about them and who would want to emulate violence? I want our children to remember how we taught them to be good human beings, how to think, question and how we let their individual personalities shine. I hope you understand me when I don’t spank.

Signed,

The parent of two freethinking, progressive, kind and intelligent young men.

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11 comments

  1. Chocolate Vent 13 September, 2014 at 12:21 Reply

    Not spanking a child because that’s what White slave owners used to do, is like saying you don’t use fire because the KKK used to burn crosses.
    That just doesn’t justify NOT physically disciplining your children.

    I am a firm believer of spanking because
    1) It works (look at crime today vs. 30 years ago when spanking was more prevalent)
    2) Most children react to physical punishments (otherwise why would children fight or beat each other up if “laying hands” didn’t work/intimidate) 3) Small children don’t understand a good “talking to”. A swift infraction requires a swift consequence

    It’s unfortunate that parents are so lax these days & we wonder why our children lack discipline, drop out of school, make out-of-wedlock babies, and have zero respect. All of this may not be caused by no-spankings, however, the way Black children are being raised these days leave much to be desired.

    It all starts with the parenting.

  2. Tia 13 September, 2014 at 15:22 Reply

    I absolutely agree that spanking is a product of colonialism, and slavery and in modern times a lack of parenting skills. Similar relationships have been found between colonialism and Aboriginal parenting, where Native people prior to European occupation had their children living free, and where Europeans believed in the need to restrict children through physical discipline. Spanking may “work” but in what way???? My mother and ex-boyfriend were beaten throughout childhood which only created resentment and disdain for continuing this behavior with their own children.

  3. vatrice 13 September, 2014 at 17:24 Reply

    I did believe spanking was part of slavery, mostly due to reading numerous slave memoirs in my youth. In my later years I read text regarding discipline and mammals and I realized most cultures used “corporal punishment”. Ethiopians hit their children and they were never occupied by Europe. indengious folk in Asia and Africa physically punish their children. I once saw a video in which an elephant mother was holding a tree branch in her trunk and swatting her child. I’m anti whipping but I hate when folks blame this form of discipline on the white man.

  4. Jade 14 September, 2014 at 13:53 Reply

    To me, there’s a difference between beating your kids and spanking. Many parents don’t know how to discipline their kids so they resort to abusing their children and say that they’re giving them a spanish/whooping. I got spankings as a child when I continued to do something after being told several times not to do it or I did something dangerous. Most of the time it was time outs, talking tos or grounded. My parents also took out the time before and after the spanking to make sure I knew exactly why I was getting one.

    After a certain age however, I didn’t get spankings anymore because I knew better and I was too old for them. However, spanking shouldn’t be a parents first resort, only if you’ve exhausted your other options. My children will get spankings, however I would never abuse them with them.

  5. Oliver McNair 15 September, 2014 at 08:52 Reply

    Well, according to your assessment spanking leads to long-turm aggression, increased anxiety and depression, impaired cognitive development, low academic performance and low self-esteem. I don’t know what planet your are from, but I was spanked as a child and the opposite happened to me. Maybe, it is a generational thing. I am 65 years old and my peers developed quite well.

  6. Lynn in DC 16 September, 2014 at 20:09 Reply

    I agree with you Bougie. I hope these other posts are from trolls and don’t represent what black people truly believe. All spanking does is teach children to respond with violence when angry or frustrated. Sorry but people who think it is okay to be violent with their children are not fine.

  7. firefly 18 September, 2014 at 11:51 Reply

    I was spank as a child and resent it when people say see and you turned out just fine. I turned out just fine not because of it and maybe even better without it. I think spanking is lazy parenting and teaches intimidation to children. Oh, and regardless of where it came from or who started it we can do better in 2014.

  8. JamaicanWomanAMK 1 December, 2014 at 11:14 Reply

    I used to think spanking was the only way to discipline a child because my mother spanked me when I was growing up and I turned out fine. But I looked up the history behind spanking and found out that White slave masters used to beat and ”spank” their Black slaves to keep them from rebelling and staying on the plantation. And I don’t want to follow the ways of our oppressors either. I wasn’t shocked but it made me wonder what other ways can a parent discipline a child and he obey the parent. And I have no children by the way but IF I did become a mother, I would love to find better ways to discipline a child besides spanking.

  9. Robin 26 May, 2016 at 16:31 Reply

    People need to DROP this nonsense about how black people learned spanking as a consequence of European colonialism.

    The whole idea is that corporal punishment is a uniquely European invention, and that’s demonstrably false. ALL cultures throughout the world, PRIOR to European expansion, practiced forms of corporal punishment.

    The notion that all cultures prior to European colonization were peaceful, violence-free utopias for children where beatings as a form of adolescent punishment didn’t exist, is blatantly false.

  10. Mo to tha 6 June, 2017 at 08:18 Reply

    What if spanking was actually not an option? I’m a foster parent and spanking is not allowed. You actually sign a form stating you will not spank and if you do you can be arrested. I will say prior to fostering I said I wouldn’t spank. Since becoming a parent, I stand by that decision but I acknowledge that sometimes the thought arises that a spanking would teach him the lesson I’m trying to impart. The fact that I can’t spank him has given me more time to think and realize the times when I’m thinking spanking is the solutions are mainly out of frustration so its less about him learning the lesson and more about me expressing my displeasure. I’m glad I can’t spank and have developed other tools for discipline. I’m not going to pretend its easy…..its a long and frustrating road but I think it will pay off for my son.

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