Why I Can't Get Down With #BlackParentsQuotes

For the past three days #BlackParentsQuotes has been trending in Twitter's top 10 in the United States. Given that trending topics that involve race aren't usually known for their positivity or insightfulness, I hesitated to click and see what the masses were saying. Unfortunately, on Monday, my curiosity got the better of me:

Even Will Smith's oldest son Trey decided to join in the fun by helpfully comparing black parents to white ones: 

Which one does Will Smith holler at his kids every morning? 

According to Trey, I'm a white parent since I tell my two sons good morning and don't cuss them out before they head to school. I'm probably a white parent since
I don't hit my boys, either: 

And apparently all this is funny, even if it's kinda racist:

I keep trying to figure out why it is that blatant racism is so amusing and fantastic. Oh wait...it's because it's directed at black people, and in this case, being perpetrated by black people--we truly have been so well-trained in self-hate that some of us think it's funny to make racist, stereotype-laden quotes about ourselves. And, when that happens, America loves to laugh.

Those stereotypes keep going because some of us still believe that there's virtue in being harsh to our children--we tell ourselves that we got beat or cussed out, and look how we turned out. Just fine, right? Too many black folk don't want to admit that beating or chastising
our children as harshly as possible is a survival mechanism left over from the days of slavery and Jim Crow. If we don't deal with our child, then the white man in charge--the massa, the overseer, the police--will come and do it for us.

Despite that legacy, physically, verbally and emotionally abusing children isn't synonymous with being a black parent. How about we replace all that slapping and sarcasm with:
#blackparentquotes I love you 
#blackparentquotes How'd I get lucky and end up with a son with such a good heart? 
#blackparentquotes I like how you made the decision to do the right thing.


melissa ritz said…
The issue of child abuse has nothing to do with race, & everything to do with socio-economic standing & education. Take one look at the variety of children in our foster care system, & you'll see that.

What is so wrong with hearing positive, respectful language in the home? What is so wrong with being raised knowing you can do anything because you're backed by the love & support of your parents, & NOT because you have to break free from your oppressors & prove them wrong?
Phyllis said…
Joy deGruy (who I am honored to call my friend)speaks directly to this issue. This link is to the first of 19 Youtube videos of her talk at the Abyssinian Baptist Church about Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome.
Anonymous said…
I'm usually right on board with you, but on this one, I have to disagree, at least to a certain extent. #blackparentquotes comes up every few months, so I can't speak to this one, but the last time, most of the quotes were not about beating your kids, or cursing at them, but more cultural ways of speaking. The "can we go to McDonalds - do you have McDonald's money?" is not at all harsh, but can be said in a joking manner, as I do with my kids. But I certainly got the saying from my parents, and I think it speaks to not wanting to raise overly-entitled children who think money is dispensable.

As a researcher who studies race and parenting, I would totally disagree that race is not a factor in parenting. In fact, I think that is absurd. Most black parents both encourage and love their children AND teach them about how the world is more difficult due to their race. We also have a cultural way of communicating that is more joking, more teasing than other cultures. This is what I see #blackparentquotes really showing. You can't take a few quotes that are about spanking or cursing and use that to generalize the entire conversation. That's just really unfair.

Lastly, any time you say "black people do this" you are stereotyping. But we need to stop being so uptight about that as long as race plays a role in people's outcomes. There are books upon books - good books - that show racial differences, even within the same SES in child-rearing. Call it stereotypical if you want, but to ignore it is really not doing anyone any favors. And I don't even think #blackparentquotes are about stereotyping - they are about what your black parent said to you, or what you say to your kids as a black parent. It's not a stereotype if the quotes are real, coming from real people's experiences. As far as I know, no one said "you aren't a black parent if you don't do this."

(And don't get me started on spanking -- white people spank their kids too, at only slightly less the rate than do black parents. While I don't disagree that some amount of spanking can be driven back to slavery and Jim Crow, you can't always use what people tell you about why they spank as the answer to where spanking came from. We may think that spanking is from slavery, but many cultures who never experienced any kind of slavery also spank. It's just not that simple, all respects to Dr. deGruy.)
I kind of agree with you on this point. (although I might be biased because I hate all things Twitter. I hate it when I hear people stereotyping black and white people and all the things about black people are negative and all the white people things are positive.

You said it best. We've been trained well in self hatred.

But I don't disagree with the tweets themselves. My parents said and did some of those things. Yeah there was sarcasm and spanking (no cussin in mamas house tho lol). That is just how a lot of older generation parents were raised, so they do it in turn.

It's not always out of hatred or damaging to the child.

It is just cultural.

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