Over the past few days a video of a father beating his daughter has gone viral. The caption reads, “Bad parenting or is this type of discipline acceptable now a days? Father disciplines his 13-year-old daughter after missing for 3 days messing around with boys & then posts all on Facebook.”
The video shows a man beating a young woman with a belt while pulling her hair and calling her a whore and bitch. It was a horrific display of violence and brutal humiliation. A debate followed the posting about whether or not this form of punishment is appropriate. After spending way too much time debating this issue on Facebook, I felt it necessary to issue this short Public Service Announcement:
Love doesn’t look like this.
There are many supporters of this abuse, repeating the same phrases to celebrate violence.
Here are a few examples:
1. “Spare the rod, spoil the child.” — Just as mainstream Western society is critical of Islam and the Koran about the treatment women in societies, African Americans should be just as critical of anyone that seeks to use Christianity and the Bible as an excuse for maltreatment and abuse. Self selective religious interpretation for the purposes of supporting physical violence and abuse was used during our own enslavement and colonization.
2. “If I don’t do it, the court system will do it one day.” — Black parents have been whipping their children for decades and it hasn’t stopped millions of our young Black boys and girls from going to prison. Beatings don’t solve that. Addressing overall societal issues is the leading way to prevent prison time. Beatings are not going to end the prison industrial complex because it places the complete blame on the imprisoned instead of society as a whole. It completely ignores the commercial drive of prison systems that lead to overzealous laws and filled prisons. This father’s beating is representative of a myriad of societal issues including the institutionalized usage of brute punishment over rehabilitation.
3. Some one asked me, “Have you ever had a child go missing for 3 days?” — In response I asked, “Have you ever seen child abuse?” The leading reason for runaways is physical and sexual abuse. Based on the video’s caption, if this is what parental love looks like in her home, would you blame her for leaving or seeking love elsewhere? If this brutality was so easily displayed for public enjoyment, one can only imagine what goes on behind closed doors.
80% of runaway and homeless girls reported having ever been sexually or physically abused. 34% of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported sexual abuse before leaving home and forty-three percent of runaway youth (girls and boys) reported physical abuse before leaving home. - National Runaway Hotline Stats
It’s deeply disturbing that so many members of the African American community view such vicious behavior as parental guidance. Perhaps this is indicative of an overall healing that needs to take place in our community. It’s also further indicative of how we view Black girls and women. Zora Neale Hurston once stated, “Black women are the mules of the world.” Her words still ring true as to the thought process associated with the treatment of Black women. You know what you do to a mule that doesn’t obey? You beat it.
There is a pathology against Black girls and women that deems us deserving of abuse no matter how cruel or violent. This is an over present line of thinking that needs to be disbanded.
Finally, what if we are to assume for just one impossible second that this really is a father that “cares?” Is this young girl now supposed to connect physical violence and verbal abuse with love? Let’s just think about it for a second. If this is love, what is hate?
In the introduction of Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality In African American Communities, Johnnetta B. Cole & Beverly Guy-Sheftall state:
Violence against Black people wears many faces. There’s a much needed focus on police brutality and Black male-on-male homicide, but too little attention to rape, spousal abuse, and incest. We have often been in contentious debates as well with other Black Women about the impact of gender oppression within our own communities, how we treat one another, and our hasty defense of Black men no matter how offensive their behavior. Many Black women have been convinced that there is a conspiracy by white America to destroy Black men, and as a result they remain silent about physical and emotional abuse women suffer within our communities.
This isn’t about creating divisions between Black women and men. It’s about whether we love our community enough to acknowledge gender oppression, stop silencing pertinent discussions about violence against Black women by Black men and view abuse with a critical eye. We can’t uplift, protect or love our girls and women by inflicting violence on them and calling them bitches. Supporting anyone that uses these abusive actions is not only counter-productive but in the direct opposition to the well being of our future generations. For the sake of Black girls and boys everywhere, it’s imperative that we establish early on that Love Doesn’t Look Like This.
Jessica Ann Mitchell is the founder of OurLegaci.com & BlackBloggersConnect.com. To reach JAM, email her at OurLegaci@gmail.com.
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