I’ll start this by saying that I am not an English professor and I’m not sure I even know how to use commas properly—but I have a lot to say about a recent video that has gone viral with a black mom dragging her black son through school. She is beating him with a belt and yelling and cursing at him as if, to use her words, he’s truly “a nigga on da streets.” The whole scene makes my blood boil.
The video is so distressing, news channels won’t even share it, but the mother is seen dragging her son by the collar through the cafeteria, beating him with a belt and threatens to “break his face” while yelling at him in front of teachers.
We cannot treat our children like trash and expect them to behave like treasures.
A wise and very beautiful school counselor, who was also named teacher of the year, once told me, “if you have to yell, it’s because they’re not listening.” She gave me this advice to help me as a teacher but it has also proven true with my children at home.
We must start to get honest about how we speak to our children—especially our little black and brown boys. We know the world that we are sending them into and we know the stereotypes and labels that will be placed on them. We know that it is hard and dangerous out here in these streets for them already. Why on earth would anyone, as a parent, add themselves to the list of people tearing our children down?
This incident of the mother in the school is one of many in the black community that not only represent us terribly but also and hurt our children. I don’t want to hear, “my mama beat me and I turned out fine” because that’s not the issue in this situation. What our mamas do ain’t always right. I’ll leave y’all with a story that you’ve likely heard before:
“A little girl watched as her mother cut two ends off the pot roast and put it into a pan. When that little girl grew up she taught her daughter to cut the ends off the pot roast before putting them in a pan. When her daughter grew up she wanted to cook for her grandmother. So she took out her pan and cut the two ends off the pot roast and as she was placing it in the oven her grandmother yelled out “girl, what you doing?” She replied, “I’m cutting off both the ends of the pot roast like you and my mama do.” The grandmother replied, I only used to cut off the ends because my pan was too small.”
I say all of that to say this, how our parents did things does not automatically make it right and we must do better by our children if we truly want our children to be emotionally, physically and psychologically healthy. Nothing good can come from berating our children with language that shames and humiliates.
Interactions like the one in the video are not uncommon and they are part of what motivated me to create 180 daily affirmations for elementary children. The goal of a daily affirmation is to build them up, give them confidence, and help them to believe they are enough and they can conquer this world. Sometimes we just need ideas of what to say or what words to use to help us be better for our children, even in the most challenging of moments.
Our children are treasures—we must treat them as such.