Corporal punishment/ spanking is still common in American Society, ignoring articles and studies demonstrating its negative effects. It tends to be more prevalent in the African American community, “time out” is seen as something decidedly “white.” I am often performing in front of a largely, young, African American crowd, and despite my reputation as an atheist poet, my prime objective is to get my audience to make their decisions on the best information available, because they are raising the next generation.
lied to me
talked back to me
didn’t clean your room
didn’t do your homework
Corporal punishment as doled out
by slave owner, and overseer,
was meant to break
the minds of the men and women
upon which it was inflicted,
a way to keep them in shackles
even when their feet were unfettered,
using pistol, axe, and whip,
it was often bloody and gruesome.
So faced with the very real threat
of losing their children on the auction block,
or watching their offspring whipped by men
who did not have their best interests at heart,
is it any wonder that slave parents
beat their children?
Chose to have their spirits broken
by those who loved them most
as a way to keep them close,
a way to keep them on the same plantation
so they could make sure their children survived,
and while slavery supposedly ended in 1865
we are still dealing with its repercussions today,
still teaching our children
to stay in line and obey authority,
still beating our children
for fear of them being caught by officer overseer,
still putting hands on them
as a way of keeping the world from touching them.
Imagine you’re walking down the street behind a couple,
and the man slaps the woman, forcefully,
would you watch them to see if it happened again?
And if it did, would you act to intervene?
Offer some form of assistance?
Speak up on her behalf?
What if the woman was an eight year old child?
Why are we willing to interject on behalf of an adult,
but look the other way in the case of a child?
Certainly of the two, children are more helpless.
But black culture sees children
as the property of their parents,
when in reality children are the property
of the society they will grow into,
entrusted to their parents keeping
to produce productive members who understand
how to take responsibility for their actions.
Studies have shown that teens of parents
who stopped using physical discipline when they were young
are less likely to have behavior problems,
shown that spanking 1 year old’s and younger
leads to more aggressive behavior as kids,
no matter what they’re natural temperament.
Putting kids on time out isn’t some “white shit,”
putting kids on time out is some free shit,
it gives kids the opportunity to reflect
on what they did wrong,
how they are responsible for their current situation,
and helps them recognize what they can do in the future
to change the outcome.
Spanking kids is nothing more than a parent being a bully,
it teaches them that might makes right,
it is a shortcut to disciplining kids,
a way for work weary parents to quickly keep
kids in line without really processing
why what they did was wrong
and why they shouldn’t do it again,
other than to avoid “something to cry about.”
Sweden in 1979 enacted a ban
on all corporal punishment,
and while their crime rate has climbed,
an anomaly based on more reporting
rather than more crime,
their 2009 per capita homicide rate was 1/100k,
Oakland’s was 26.3 in a population 1/24th the size.
I am not so foolish
as to lay all the blame
at the feet of corporal punishment,
but it’s not helping our kids,
it’s not solving the issues in our community,
in fact it might even be adding to the problem,
perhaps if parents used words instead of welts
as a means to correcting wrong behavior,
and more time encouraging, and modeling right behavior
we could race to the peaceful
society we’re currently crawling towards,
and I know we’ll all raise our hands
with anecdotes of “I turned out okay,”
while that may be true,
imagine the heights you might have attained
had your parents encourage you
to fly for freedom.