A Nation’s Rise

A note to my readers: I will pick up my domestic violence series tomorrow. At the moment, however, there is a current event that I must address .

This week my FB newsfeed has once again been flooded with the video of an adolescent Black girl being filmed as a relative beats and shamed in order to ‘teach her a lesson’. A similar incident took place in March as well.

The unrestrained glee that I see adults regularly express at videos of this nature baffles me. It makes me wonder if they are sociopaths. I am not sure what to make of their utter inability to show any understanding and empathy to a child. But more than that, these attitudes towards adolescent Black girls makes me tremble with fear regarding the future of Black America. Our treatment of our girls does not bode well for our community as a whole.

When our girls are caught engaging in hypersexual behavior and/or have sudden changes in their behavior as a whole, we tend to have a knee jerk reaction. We diagnose her as being fast. We prescribe whooping her ass and shaming her as the only solution. This is deemed as the necessary way of dealing with ‘fast’ Black girls. But I used to be one of those girls. My cousins and friends were those girls. And though twenty years have elapsed I absolutely refuse to act brand new, to pretend I don’t know that there are underlying factors involved. Some fast girls are acting out because they have been sexually abused. Some fast girls act out in a misguided attempt to gain the male attention that their MIA fathers denied them(I fell into that category. Some fast girls act out because their families never did the hard work of empowering them and teaching them to love themselves. Unfortunately our discussions on and attitudes towards our girls don’t take this into account. Families with ‘fast’ girls are given the same advice that Miss Celie gives to Harpo in ‘The Color Purple’: beat her.

But before you beat that 14 year old girl-or share and laugh at the video of her relative(s) doing it please take a moment to reflect on what I’ve said above. Entertain the idea that this child may have been sexually abused for years and could still be going through said abuse. Entertain the idea that she may already feel unlovable and worthless due to her father not being around-an issue that I and my peers struggled with at the time. Now ask yourself: how will beating and humiliating a girl in one or both of these situations actually improve her life? I can tell you it will not. What it will do, however, is add to the psychological trauma that this baby shouldn’t be carrying in the first place! It will help turn a broken and hurt girl into a broken and hurt woman. Without help and counseling that trauma will endure and her children will suffer as well. The wounds of previous generations have already wreaked havoc in our families. It has to stop.

I don’t really get down with Louis Farrakhan, but one of his sayings comes to mind now: a nation can rise no higher than its’ women. If there is any truth in those words my people should be very unsettled by both the attitudes in our community regarding our young girls and the fact that folks take such joy in their public shaming. Those fast-tailed girls you vilify today will bring forth the next generation of your people tomorrow.