“blood of a slave, heart of a king” ~ Nas
I remember walking down the hill on my way to school one morning when I passed our neighborhood middle school. There was a small crowd of kids in a semi-circle with two boys in the middle. Although I was in fourth or fifth grade I knew what was going on, there was about to be a fight. I stopped for a minute to watch but kept going after two or three minutes. As soon as I was out of sight I heard a ruckus and a scream, I ran up the hill and but before I could turn the corner, one of the boys were running toward me screaming with blood dripping from the left side of his face. His facial expression is one of many images I would see over and over again, but this one stayed with me. Why does confrontation accelerate to violence so quickly? Perhaps one answer lies in our heritage, in the form of punishment. You see, my first experiences came from my mother, which shapes my theory of why violence extenuates in black communities.
Like many kids, I was spanked as a form of punishment and discipline. Can't remember the first time but do recall experiences from 7 until 12 or so. Over time being punished began to feel like an ass-kicking where I suffered welts, nosebleeds and mouth bleeds from belts, punches, and slaps. Spankings were most humiliating as I had to pull my pants down lay across the bed and forced to take lashes on my ass and back. Instead of discipline I developed anger, hate and fear. Over time, my emotions diminished from screams to cries to clinched teeth to stoicism.
While watching a movie scene of a slave being whipped I connected to the similarities of slave punishment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDOPJawut4Y (Preview) (Preview). Mystically speaking, trauma is being passed down from parent to child, older generation to younger. I’ve heard all the too spank arguments, and I reject them because of long-term ramifications. The impact of spanking is difficult to study as it is most often performed in private and behind closed doors, yet, what we do know from research conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa is that spanking causes cognitive impairment and long-term developmental difficulties. And may reduce the brain’s grey matter, which is an integral part of the central nervous system. My theory is that kids spanked are hypersensitive to confrontation and are more willing to respond to tense situations with violence. Not to mention how we learn to address issues with other world citizens. For many years, my emotional biochemistry reacted to yelling and screaming with clenched teeth and hands, similar to how post-traumatic stress disorder affects soldiers after war. If my armchair Psychology is true where do we go from here?
As Mahatma Gandhi said, "we must be the change we want to see in the world." From one resolute soul to another learn how to deal with issues with patience and mature emotion. Your issues may have been passed down to you but now it is up to you to break this tortuous tradition. Plus, spanking says more about your abilities than it does your child. Visualization is one my favorite and important tools (which I’ll discuss in more depth in a future post), go over the mistakes and scenarios in your mind that you know will happen, and plan how to deal with yourself and your response. There is a three step process for every incident; 1) a child’s mistake, 2) your inner reaction, 3) how you will respond to your child. You will be protecting your child’s emotional health and planting a new seed for how issues are resolved.