Friday, April 25, 2008

Black People Are Afraid of Their Children: Sean Bell Reflections


Dude was selling these shirts in Harlem after Sean got murdered.

Black people are afraid of their children and have
been since The Beginning
of the Crack Era.

Pre-crack, Black communities, historically had
an it takes a village attitude towards child rearing.

Black parents had no problem checking a child
who was caught acting out. In fact, a kid could be
reprimanded by their parent and then be taken
home and punished/ whupped again.

As children we knew that even if our "parents"
weren't around,
other parents were around, so
we better act right.

Pre-crack, 12 year old Takeem mouthing off to the
owner of the local corner store would be
checked by another parent, then brought
home and punished again by his own parents.

Post-crack the 13 year old Takeem COULD possibly
have a 9mm, so there was a huge risk for a community
parent to chastise him for mouthing off to an elder.

Post-crack, the parent could get shot for saying something to
the Takeem.

What does this have to do with Sean Bell? Everything.

I began thinking about how our fear of our children undermines
our ability to both parent them and create less violent communities.
This morning when I was talking to Filthy about the Sean Bell
case, he was lamenting the fact that so many organizers
were going to be reactionary, yet again.

He was lamenting attending another angry rally.

He was lamenting the fact that these organizations
would again be putting their organization's
interests ahead of todays mission: social justice.

He mentioned that he was tired of folks talking
about demanding justice and that it was time to
create justice.

One form of creating justice was police accountability
and community policing. This is where Takeem comes in.

If we are scared of our children, how can we police our

We know who is hustling, who is thieving, who has the
"reduced priced goods", who sells gats, who moves bodies.
We don't talk to the police when they try and investigate
because of our history with the police. Its our code.
WE have to live in our neighborhoods. (Presuming
that you live in the hood).

Am I arguing that community policing could have prevented
the Sean Bell murder? No. What I do think is that
community policing and accountability is proactive
and demanding justice from police officers
when they have demonstrated repeatedly that social
justice is completly reactive.

Creating Justice is internally driven, demanding it is
externally driven. When change happens from within
its transformative, lasting and sustainable. Externally,
not so much.

What would happen if we took our communities into our
hands and began policing them ourselves while
simultaneously holding the formal police
accountable for their actions.

Everything, with regard to our children is our fault.
Their successes are ours, their failures are ours.

When will we stop being scared of them?

How and when will we work towards having neighborhoods
where we aren't scared of kids with guns?

When will we stop being afraid of our children and the police?


neo said...

Very important questions you pose..and I do agree it is very important for the black community to begin policing itself and not wait for Sean Bell's to happen before we have something in place to checker the situation, even though Sean Bell's case like Amadou Diallo and co is not as related but I see the point you try to drive home.

I don't even wanna think about the case. I'm still baffled at how the prosecution couldn't get charges to stick..i mean local DA's that weak tho?

M.Dot. said...

Nah man

It ain't the DA.

ITs was a bench trial NOT a jury trial. Huge difference.

Peep this.

L school has ETCHED ONE thing in my head, The Formula Determines the outcome.

Pell Grants
Crack Minimum Sentencing
Credit Scores

The DA and the Popo relationship is compromised. I came across this piece today. Some decent reporting on it.

Our lives turn on formulas.

Article Title: "Commentary: Testimony of Sean Bell's friends sank case".

BeautyinBaltimore said...

"Everything, with regard to our children is our fault"

What up

I largly agree with this but I am aware that some people come out of the womb twisted.

I think a big reason that parents are afriad of their children is because of the child abuse laws in this country. Granted, there are a number of parents who abuse their children but there is a big difference between a spanking and beatdown.

Children in this country are aware that they can make a phone call and have their parents may be arrested. You better believe some children threaten to call the authorities on their parents too, I know a few who have.

The fear of displining children in this country is one reason why many imagrants(sp) send their children back to their home country to be raised by family members. Neo can speak of this.

BeautyinBaltimore said...

M. Dot- So the police officers decided they didn't want a jury trail?

neo said...

According to CNN, the feds will look into it since a civil case is pending..we'll see what becomes of this..either way though no form of ruling can bring Sean back..its just a sad situation the whole way through..God keep us.

Anonymous said...

Sorta related but interesting...

I'm in Portugal for a little while and I'm watching the "Mundo" (that means world here apparently) news at a cafe when the verdict on the Sean Bell case came on. It's weird... I didn't think people abraod would care about that type of thing... but it was up there with the drama in Zimbabwe.

They didn't even mention the whole Hillary and Obama thing... in fact my bro-in-law says they mentioned the election thing once since he has been out here... and he's been here since Sept.

Anyway, it's weird to see Sean Bell getting coverage and so many other things not. Interestingly enough, the part of Portugal that I'm in doesn't have many black folks... so when the news came on the entire cafe turned and looked at us like waiting for a response...

I was like ummmm... hi?

Anonymous said...

Ok I have an issue with some of the points here...

1. Using physical discipline to prevent a child from "acting up" is actually part of the problem. I have been a parent for 12 years now and have never struck any of my children and they are all warm, intelligent and sensible children. In most cases a child "acting out" is usually age appropriate behavior. Untrained parents or adults ignorant of this get frustrated and lash out violently thinking the pain will act as a deterrent for the behavior... and sometimes it does for a short time.

But something else happens as well. Children being the sponges they are observe the pattern and deduce that when frustrated it is ok to use violence to handle a situation especially when you have more power over the source of the frustration. This sets up a bad precedence for the child that can possible spill over in to other areas of their lives. Think frustrated man violently lashing out at girlfriend sorta thing.

The other thing that happens is that instead of being patient and trying to explain why the exhibited behavior is inappropriate at that time we use fear and pain to teach them. This is an ineffective form of conditioning that can manifest itself negatively in their lives. Interestingly enough the police also use fear and pain to control us and most of the time most of us fall right into line.

2. I agree that we need take accountability for our children. But I'll take it a little further in saying that our children our a reflection of their parents the environment we expose them to. We have all heard the African proverb that the fruits don't fall far from the tree. We have a ton of issues that we have not dealt with yet and when we see it manifest in our children we blame them and expect them to change and grow pass them. We should police our communities but it starts with taking accountability for ourselves and our actions first. The better we are as adults and parents... the less we'll have to go upside their heads.

M.Dot. said...

I largly agree with this but I am aware that some people come out of the womb twisted.

Thats pathological.
I can't co-sign on that sh-t.

HOWEVER, your observation about children being aware of the power to bring the state INTO Black family matters.

I FOR ONE, am CURRENTLY actively trying to create a three stop intervention that would PREVENT the state from become involved when a child has an issue.

THE ISSUE IS THAT I WANT THE CHILD and the family to get help, BUT BRINGING IN THE STATE/POPO/CPS/THE COURTS, typically spells the end FOR OUR FAMILIES not a new beginning.

TRYING to be visionary with it.

This willingness to get the STATE involved is related to the knee jerk willingness to label 6 year olds sexual predators and give 14 year olds life sentences.

All problems start early. The solutions have to start earlier.

M.Dot. said...

Hi "anon".....

You and I both know that I am ambivalent about beating/whupping kids.

The past two weeks I have been writing these crack stories and the fact that my moms beat that shit out of me twice is the central theme to two of them. I saw pops stealing the rent money and ain't tell her. Its not a game. I KNOW, in my heart that it taught me to that violence will make people respect you.

I think its dope that you don't hit.
A lot of black parents do, and WE have to deal with that.

Interestingly enough the police also use fear and pain to control us and most of the time most of us fall right into line.
Do do do do, thats the audio daily double.

I mean think about it. I just remembered how in Ta-Nehisi's book, he is talking about either he or his brother catching a whuppin from their dad. And moms, was like "tha fuck dude" and Pops responded with "you want me to do it or do you want the police to do it" and its like DAMN. That is a crazy assed position to be in .

Violence is all in us blood.
Rage too. We have to understand
it or it will keep us stagnated.

Sh*t, since January I have been obsessed with have a conversation about raising kids who loved who the fuck they are on the inside.
Man, I been obsessed with having unconditional love for DELF on the inside. Feel me.

I mean the best shit rubs your right down the middle, like a d-boy song by jay. Based on these responses I may have just did that. Its crazy uncomfortable writing about this.

6:22am. Saturday Morning. Puts on Coffee. Prepares Hillary is spineless post.

Illaim said...

"tired of folks talking
about demanding justice and that it was time to
create justice.”


And how do you go about that? I agree that empty demands are worthless endeavors…but my question only leads to our common impasse…. Your anti violence… and I abhor violence, but I feel like that’s the only true tested technique of acquiring “success”

“One form of creating justice was police accountability
and community policing. This is where Takeem comes in.”


When has there ever been police accountability?

When have the gate keepers of the system ever really been checked?

I understand what your saying about community policing and agree with you in principle, theory and hopefully a near reality. But reactive or not …..the angry and despondent calls for Justice from state sanctioned violence against a domestic people is valid in all most all of its manifestations.

“holding the formal police
accountable for their actions.”


How do you suggest that occurs?

I cant give you a well defined answer as to the cessation of fear allotted to our children and the police. I will say fear of our children will be the first to go..which really isn’t a rosey outlook because even that is going to take sometime. Recently just reaching the 30 club..I more often find myself being annoyed, appalled and sometimes angered by some of my peoples (25-32 range)views on the kids. It not even like a Civil Rights/ Hip Hop Generation divide… It’s like a 90’s Teen vs Millennium Teen beef which disgusts me, because I look at them as that used to be us.

Given the intrinsic individualistic nature of this nation I don’t think we’ll ever get back to that “you can check my kids” sort of world, and to be honest I’m sort of skeptical of that type of child rearing nostalgia and can’t help to think that some of the social powerlessness that our older parents, grandparents, etc endured was assuaged by redeeming their humanity (manhood, womanhood) thru the chastisement of the youth. Happened(s) in homes all the time, and I think it occurred somewhat back then in the macro streets. I do feel that when more of us love and respect or fellow breadren built off a sense of empathy or not, things will get better. It’s a shame that it ussaly takes tragedy to cause that occurrence

As for the pigs…well I won’t put a date on that…..
Niggaz treat them like the agents in the Matrix.

The police have been on that Neo overseer ish for a while, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

While I was reading your piece and visualizing a better community, the thought of as far as the police are concerned it doesn’t matter.

The police are a occupying force for the most part, not apart of the areas swear to serve in protect in a close, for the good of the people way. Some also have a vested interest, in having the status quo remain as is.

Us getting us in order is paramount and I agree with you on that point strongly, but a better in house community doesn’t won’t prevent agents of your government from killing innocents with zero liability at hand.

Knowing police can end your life with a lie… let alone with a gun is and understandable rationale for fear whether one chooses to admit it or not.

Model Minority said...


Your nuts.

Like, seriously.

Lou said...

Everything that could be wrong is...

Model Minority said...


Thanks for the passion and the Hope.

That rocks!

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