Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Raising children to be submissive members of the lower caste

The arbitrary nature of grown people's wrath gave colored children practice for life in the caste system, which is why parents, forced to train their children in the ways of subservience, treated their children as the white people running things treated them. It was preparation for the lower-caste role children were expected to have mastered by puberty.
--"The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration" by Isabel Wilkerson

That’s it. That’s my dirty little secret. I’m a black mother who doesn’t spank her kids.
But don’t you understand? For as long as black folks have been in this country, we have had to keep our kids in line, by any means necessary. For us, it was a matter of life and death.
“Was” being the operative word here. Gone are the days when whining and complaining or disobedience could get a child’s entire escaping family captured, sent back to the plantation, whipped, hobbled, or killed. Gone are the days when whistling at a white woman (or even being falsely accused of it) would get a 14-year-old black boy lynched and his unrepentant murderers found not guilty, and then bragging about the crime in a national magazine. (See Till, Emmett.)
Now you’ll never hear me say that black folks have completely overcome. Racism and discrimination may no longer wear white sheets, or wield fire hoses and dogs, but they are still alive and kicking. But in 2006, I’ll be damned if “know your place,” and “don’t piss off white folks” are among the life lessons I instill in my daughters, much less spank them to drive the message home.
--Deesha Philyaw, "The Girl is Mine: Sparing the Rod" on Love Isn't Enough


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