Beating the Spouse and Whuppin’ The Child
Jumal Okeyo Jumal: September, 2014
In one week, the hot lights of media was focused on the National Football League, (NFL); not because of on-field play, but of matters occurring in hotel elevators and private homes. Ray Rice, a stellar running back in the NFL, knocks his soon to be wife out cold in a hotel elevator, drags her out in a hallway and dropped her like a sack of dirty laundry. Adrian Peterson, a stellar running back in the NFL, disciplined is four- year- old son, severely whupping him with a switch, with photos showing numerous blood red whets. He was indicted on child abuse charges. (In the prosecutor and media’s hyperbole, the switch is referred to as a tree branch).
The disgust and anger directed at Rice for his callous actions rained on him like a violent thunder storm, leaving him zero shoulders to cry on, no cave deep enough to hide. In this day and age in society, a male striking a female is rarely tolerated or excused, if the argument gets stupid and she starts swinging on the man, he should protect himself with a defensive posture or run, remove himself from the scene. It’s not punkin’ out to run away from this situation, its called being smart. My advice to boys when I was a high school vice principal, “even if the girl verbally disrespects you, spits at you or even punches you, maintain your cool. If you strike her back, you lose!” I would also informed the girls to keep their hands to self, “there are boys with no home training, ignorant to the understanding that boys don’t hit girls, you hit them, they’ll knock you out cold and stomp on your head.”
The reaction to Adrian Peterson’s child abuse indictment was much more subdued, even forgiving in some quarters. But why? He doesn’t deny he whupped his son. To the contrary, Peterson states that disciplining is son with a switch was the same way he was disciplined by his father growing up in east Texas, that whupping was part of his Christian upbringing. His comments received on air accolades from Charles Barkley, NBA Hall of Famer who’s commentary on the matter found some support in the Black community. “…That is the way Black people raise their kids in the South, every child got whupped, me and my three brothers got whupped, that how you’re raised in the South…” Sir Charles continued, “… We don’t want to start telling parents how to discipline their kids…” Chris Carter, an NFL Hall of Famer and commentator, had a completely different reframe from that of Barkley, “…Whipping our children is part in the Christian church. My mother raised seven children by herself and we were all whipped…But my mother was wrong!! This is the 21th century, I will never teach my kids any of that mess, [whipping kids]. I love my mother but she was wrong on many things, especially about whipping children!!”
Back in the olden days, while growing up in Southern California, I can remember the whuppin’ ritual vividly. I would be ordered by Big Mama to go pick a switch from the hedges, strip off the leaves and bring it to her. I'd strip down to my undershorts and she’d put me in the hallway, close the doors to muffle the yellin', and the whupping would commence. She’d have to hit a moving target ‘cause my only defense was jumping like a grasshopper. I’d leave the whoopin’ room with welts and red swelling from top of my head to feet bottoms. And although these bruises and marks were clearly visible to neighbors and school staff, no one gave them a second thought. Back then, if leaving blood whets on a child was a crime, they could have backed a fleet of school buses down the street and hauled the whole neighborhood off to jail.
But this is the 21th century, attitudes have progressively changed. The question that remains is why the whuppin’ continues to plague the Black community? This question begs for an answer that is difficult for many to hear, yet an undeniable truth. The whuppin’ is the ugly residue of slavery. For three hundred and forty years (340), the institution of slavery seared into the slaves psych that whippings, physical violence achieves the desired behavior modification. The slave massa also preached a religion, tailor-made-for slaves that god approved of whippings and if compliance wasn’t achieved through scripture, the bullwhip would correct any insolent behavior. This story of the bull-whipped slave was stunningly placed before our eyes with the movie telling of Solomon Northup’s narrative, “12 Years A Slave”.
The plantation religion tenets, specifically the whupping, became part of Black religious teachings, “Spare the rod, spoil the child”. This mind-set migrated with the Black population across the country and is firmly entrenched in homes and aggressively encouraged by many Black churches. Fortunately today, if a preacher advocating adherence to a scripture that ascribes to whupping of his child to gain obedience, and his child shows up with numerous open lacerations on his buttocks and upper thighs, like that of Adrian Peterson’s son, that preacher will most likely be thrown in jail and his scripture should be thrown in jail with him. No one as a given right to assault another human being, be they just a child.
Adrian Peterson’s assault on his son is just as much a criminal act as Ray Rice’s assault on his wife and the legal remedies should be pursued with the same seriousness. Just like beating of a spouse can leave serious emotional scares that include debilitating depression, whupping a child can likewise cause emotional and psychological issues that affect learning in school and the causation of social adjustment problems that can be stifling for years. These two domestic abuse crimes are joined at the hip.