We’ve all been somewhere — a store, airport, office, salon — and seen a kid misbehaving and said to ourselves, ‘I wish that parent would beat their kid.’
Black children aren’t strangers to beatings. Either you’ve been beaten or you’ve seen somebody beaten. It’s been depicted in movies, songs, and even comedic lines.
Everybody knew Trey wouldn’t even think about leaving that front porch without permission from Furious Styles in Boyz N The Hood.
There’s the classic joke line, ‘If I did this, my momma would slap the taste out of my mouth,’ and, ‘My momma would beat the black off of me.’
These lines start with ‘my momma’ because in 2011, over 70 percent of African-American children are born to single mothers, according to government statistics.
Recently, a video posted online by a father, changed the ‘My momma would beat me if I did…’ line. We get a rare glimpse of a black father interacting with his son.
In the video Devery Broox and his child is in a bathroom. Broox has a belt hanging around his neck, and it seems like he’s about to discipline his child.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE:
Broox, posted his research before the video started. He says, “According to the Sentencing Project: 1 out of 8 black men are in prison and 1 out of 3 black men born today are expected to go to prison. According to 2009 census: There are 2,500,000 black people in college, only 919,000 are black men. There are 827,680 black men in prison/jail. It still takes a village to raise a child!!!”
The video has gained over 1.2 million views. Broox questions his child’s misbehavior at school, cuts his hair, then takes him into a room. A beating can be heard, and towards the end of the film, Broox makes the child work out in a yard, military style. Some viewers have supported Broox, while some feels that he should go to jail for physically admonishing his child.
“I think what he’s doing is illegal and he should be arrested for it. I think it does fit into the category of psychological abuse,” said Dr. Ivory Toldson, associate professor at Howard University, senior research analyst for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Negro Education.
“I’ve worked in the prison and I’ve worked with children with behavior disorders. I’ve never worked with anyone who ended up in jail because of lack of beatings and I’ve never worked with a child who had disciplinary problems because a lack of beatings. I think that’s one of the biggest misconceptions. If you go into prison and take a poll, most of them will say that they got their asses beat pretty good while they were growing up. What they didn’t get was love.”
Physical or corporal punishment is something that has historically been a part of black culture. It’s always been behind closed doors or tight circles. However, with more availability of digital cameras, people are able to see what’s happening.
“The punishment is one thing and the videotaping of the punishment is another issue. The videotaping is more of exploitation and psychological shock value and public shaming than any form of discipline,” said Dr. Troy Allen, African American History professor at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA.
“We do have many practices that are held over from our enslavement that we think are ‘black culture.’ Child rearing under an oppressive system, where black behavior can be criminalized is extremely difficult. Black families have traditionally been more conservative and stricter than other families because of the serve consequences of our children getting put into the prison system and out our control.”
Broox, a Florida history and African-American studies student and former Navy veteran, would likely argue he’s trying to keep his child out of prison the best way that he knows how. Broox declined comment for this article. In the video the boy looks to be about 8 or 9 years olf, an age that Dr. Jawanza Kunjufu says in a 2009 YouTube video is the critical first stage in black boys’ development.
“There are three critical stages in black boys’ development: infancy to 9; 9 to 13; and 13 to 18. It’s easy to see the negative behavior here (13-18) when he’s already dropped out, laid up on some street corner, lacking direction. It’s more difficult to see it around nine years of age when they begin to sit further in the back of the class, ask less questions — that ball becomes more important than that book. When they begin to cheat on their tests. We appeal to you to turn your students and male sons on early. Teach them how to read early, teaching them the beauty of being black and believing in God,” says Kunjufu.
Growing up in his single parent household filled with love and a healthy dose of spankings, community activist and Pittsburgh native Jasiri X said he still dropped out of college and went down a negative path because he didn’t have his father in his life.
“When another man deals with another man it’s a different energy. I saw a father (on the video) who was deeply concerned about the future of his son,” said Jasiri.
“My relationship with my son is different than my relationship with my daughter. I think like when you’re dealing with a young black man you have to prepare him in a certain way. We’re in a society where, even if he doesn’t make a mistake this is a society that’s like really against us.”
Jasiri credited the Nation of Islam of providing discipline and setting his life on the right path.
“I would rather see more fathers do that than not be engaged at all. Or just come and drop off some money and leave,” said Jasiri.
Houstonian, high school social studies teacher and father of a toddler boy, Jason LeDeaux echoed Jasiri’s statements on child rearing.
“Culturally it’s been in grained in us,” LeDaux said. “If you’re a father, your children have to have a certain respect for you. The way we have been taught is physically. The way were taught was if you want somebody to conform to the way you want them to behave, you whip them. That’s what we’ve seen in this country.”