All too often people come telling me, "I got beat and I turned out fine!' Really? Well first I must say, turning out "fine," is unacceptable. Turning out fine means average, mediocre...not exceptional or outstanding. No one ever says getting hit as a child made them excellent. Looking at where we always say we want our children to go in life, they need to be turning out PHENOMENALLY! It is challenging to be such when you have to deal with receiving pain from the people that you expect to receive love and nurturing from. What direction you should, and can go becomes confusing. Not turning out to operate at our optimum should NOT be the norm. Our urban communities clearly display mediocrity. I liken turning out fine to the acronym F.I.N.E. (Failing Indefinitely Never Emerging). We are not emerging at the rate and pace needed to get back our dignity and footing in expansion on any level. We can and must do better!
“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.