I wanted to write a post detailing my righteous indignation at a video that has been making the rounds on Facebook. In said video a thirteen-year old girl is accosted by family when she returns home after being missing for three days. Her Uncle whips her with a belt on the street, pulls her hair and calls her a ho. The girls mother films the episode and calls her daughter names as well. In discussion of the video I have heard multiple people applaud the actions of the family, saying the girl got what she deserved and that it is not abuse. I have not watched the video. I cannot bring myself to do so. But the commentary surrounding it triggered me badly. When I hear people in the Black community cheering the hitting and humiliation of children I burn with rage. I cease being a thirty-three year old woman and return to the time when I was a pubescent girl.

I remember that world. In that world ‘fast’ Black girls were spanked, slapped and insulted. Such physical and verbal abuse was necessary to make us ‘act right’. The ‘fastness’ had to be eradicated by any means necessary. No one stopped to talk to us and figure out WHY we were engaging in said behavior. No one stopped to ask if our inordinate interest in sex at a young age was the result of being sexually molested. No one stopped to think that our quest for male attention from our peers stemmed from a desire to replace the love and attention that our own fathers never provided. Just like the young Black girls we see getting hit and insulted by family in videos on sites such as WorldStar Hip-Hop, we were simply deemed ‘fast-tailed’, ‘too grown’ and ‘hot in the ass’. So when I hear of these videos and hear people applauding them, it is hard to remain objective. In their experiences  I see those of my cousins, my childhood friends and  myself.  At a time in our lives where we needed empathy and guidance the most from our elders we often received the very opposite.

The continuation of such dysfunctional and harmful treatment of Black teen girls has renewed my resolve to raise my daughter in a different way.   As long as there is breath in my body she will never know the  treatment that those who came before and even some in her generation receive. I will not shame her for developing body. I will never call her out of her name. I won’t refer to her as fast, call her a hoochie or a ho. I have abstained from teaching her a worldview that includes the concept of original sin and posits a female ancestor as the cause of evil in this world. When it comes to building a life for my daughter  that is free of the toxic mix of misogyny and faith I grew up with I am unyielding. The traumatizing methods of child rearing and retrograde ideas regarding gender and sexuality which my forbears brought with them from Mississippi and passed down to me have not been taught to my daughter. The day of my Great-Grandma, Grandma and Mama was dark. The day that my daughter will walk into will not be. Her time will be one that is beautiful and brighter, with a freedom and lightness of being that has been denied to many of her race and gender. I will not yield. It all stops here.

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A native Seattleite and East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been.

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