Discipline can be conducted in numerous forms, and parents have various ways to incorporate discipline into their child rearing strategy. My mother used physical discipline to institute fear and to teach a lesson. After several years of the whippings I concluded that if she did not whip me I would not be where I am today. I have even said countless times to my friends, “without the beatings I would probably be in prison.” In some ways I believe this because I have been in too many compromising and extremely unlawful situations that could have lead to death or imprisonment. What helped me to do the right thing was: The long walk to get the switch and then the beaten. However, after several years of parenting and witnessing other parent’s parent I believe physical disciplinary tactics can to some degree cause psychological and emotional damage if conducted in anger.
With that opening statement, I need your feedback on an incident I unfortunately witnessed.
While waiting on the train after a very exhausting day. I saw a woman standing on the train platform with three rambunctious children. The age range was approximately 5yrs old to 8yrs old. The woman looked tired. It was another hot day in the ATL, and being underground waiting on a late train made me hotter! So, I know she was fuming. Three active kids, heat, and a tardy train. Anyway, after about two minutes of her trying her best to control the children and to no avail, she pulled out a stick. It looked like a broken yard stick.
Well, the stick was eventually used in anger to BEAT the 5yr old because he said one too many times that he was hot. After about thirty-five seconds of seeing a slave beating, and while two black policemen and other train passengers looked on (including myself) like it was a normal occurrence I began to get upset. Actually, I become overwhelmed with a host of feelings.
In an effort to “connect” with me guess who said, “I can’t believe that lady. She could have killed that little fella. Why can’t these women discipline in another way?” You got it: A white lady! I was so embarrassed, but the embarrassment turned to misdirected anger. I foolishly got mad at the 50 plus year old white lady. Why was I mad at her? She did not savagely beat a 5yr old with a walking stick! Out of respect I decided not to cut her with my tongue. Even as I type, I am wondering why in the $#% did I consider cursing her out. Interesting?
Why didn’t I save that child from being brutalized? Why didn’t the policemen stop the
in-a-rage black mother? I guess I was too tired to intervene. My day left me too BEAT. So, BEAT I could not stop what the white slave master did to my ancestors. They BEAT them to control them. They BEAT them because they hated them. However, this time around the slave master was the black woman and what she hated at that very moment was not the children, but herself and her plight; and I am guilty of indirectly supporting what the slave master so successfully accomplished: Black self hatred.
To top this spectacle off in a separate matter, one of the policemen decided to clear the steps leading to the train platform. Guess what method he selected to do it with? He took out his black club. Pointed it at the black teenagers sitting on the steps, and then yelled with intense anger and disgust, “Get your butt off the steps. Get out the way. Stupid!” Yes, an officer of the law.
Both incidents are examples of the hatred we (black folk) have toward each other. It is our internal shield we use to deflect the love and respect we are suppose to show each other. It is what will ultimately destroy us.
Questions: What is your take on both scenarios? What should the policemen, the other passengers, and I have done?
Written by Brian E. Payne. Inspired by witnessing one of slaverys' accomplishments: Black self hatred.