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Who Protects our Children?

Yes, I know I haven't posted in many, many months, but we will deal with that later. There is something so pressing and so heavy on my heart and mind that I needed to address it here, in this space, where I am a Mommy first.

I know we have all seen the video of the Spring Valley student slammed to the ground and literally dragged like a rag doll out of her classroom. This blog isn't even about that. As disgusting and criminal (Yes I said criminal) as his actions were, he's not why I'm here to vent.

I am appalled NO horrified and disappointed and disgusted by how many responded to that video with, "But what did she do? or We can't see what she did before? Or well why didn't she just leave the class or give up the cell phone"" Black parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles all actively LOOKING for a reason to blame this child for this man's horrific violence and contempt towards her. As if there HAS to be another reason for a white police officer would behave that way towards a child. I find myself almost shaking in rage as some of you so VERY blind to the propaganda began a few days later to post a year old video of some students harassing and abusing another teacher in another school, with comments of "these children need their asses whipped, etc". You sir, mam, make it okay for that officer in Spring Valley to behave that way. And you are the problem. And I know exactly what it is.

Once several years ago when my oldest child was a toddler, as I sat in a pediatrician's office with my child I had what does Oprah call them??... " an a-ha moment" that changed the way I parent. My doctor's office is in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. The crowd in the waiting area was very racially mixed. There were many small children in the crowded waiting area so it got a little loud and rowdy. One little blond child was a bit rowdier than the others. He was climbing on the toy chairs, marching across, singing loudly...He was everywhere, touching everything..something 4-year-old boys do. He was funny and cute and so  I shared that little secret mom smile that you share with moms, as she nursed her smaller child.

As I looked around I noticed other black parents starting to give THAT look, you know that look, don't act like you don't! They exchanged glances and knowing looks, facial expression visibly tightening because the audacity of this child to act LIKE A CHILD.And how dare his mother not stop him and discipline him, "There were audible whispers among the black mothers of why she can't CONTROL her child. He wasn't malicious or out of control just a little wild, a little free like kids are supposed to be.  And then the inevitable happened, other children started to join his one-man parade. And one by one most (not all) of the black moms told their kids, to stop, sit down, be quiet. One older grandmother snatched the child of the chair, absently smacked her legs and told her to sit be quiet and stop making so much commotion. Soon after the mom took the blonde boy into his appointment and the other parents seemed to sigh with relief. At the time, I couldn't understand why I was so bothered by this scenario. After that, I noticed it everywhere, all the time, black moms, that looked like me telling their children who looked like mine, to be still, quiet, sit down, don't laugh so loud. Now I realized what the problem was with that little boy. He walked through that waiting room freely as though he belongs there. That little blonde boy was just running exploring this space, this world like he owns it. Do we as black parents tend to feel like ours do not? We have this overwhelming need to prove that our children are DISCIPLINED. Why are we so consumed with making sure our children are non-threatening, well-trained, unassuming. Shouldn't our children feel like they have the right to explore this world at will also? Shouldn't they feel like this world is theirs for the taking? How will they ever know it? Especially if at every attempt at freedom, they get it beat out of them?

I reject the idea that beating our children is black culture, it's SLAVE culture. Some scholars have argued that beating children in the black community serves as some sort of traumatic reenactment of the brutal violence experienced during slavery, a remnant of centuries-old barbarity. However, there are those in the black community who make a larger argument that the strict punishment of black children is necessary. Physical discipline at the hands of a loved one is preferable to the always-looming life-and-death threat of white supremacist violence. We are so afraid that someone else may hurt our children, so we hurt them first, to keep them in their place. Corporal punishment has been internalized from slavery practices meant to keep black children from crossing the slave master and incurring a harsher fate and is now used to prevent African-American children from angering police officers and incurring the same.(however, my news feed proves time and time again that this doesn't actually work, beating your child doesn't save them from violence elsewhere, especially from the police) The result is routinization of black-on-black violence.

It's time we wake up.

You can break the chain. YOU can make a difference.

Someone has to let our children know, that their bodies are precious. How can they respect themselves and each other when we don't. How will the world know it's not okay to hurt our children? Who will tell people like racist officer Ben Fields that black and brown bodies are not punching bags, when we routinely and PUBLICLY tell the world that the way to get our children to "Act Right" is too whoop them?

My children will know. They will know that violence against them is unacceptable. That they own their bodies and nobody has the right to hurt and abuse them in any way, even out of some misdirected sense of love or tradition.

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