“Hero Mom”? Hitting children is not what good parenting looks like

When the video of an angry mom beating up her son at the Baltimore protest went viral, Toya Graham, the mom who smacked her 16-year-old son, Michael Singleton, for joining the protest, became the face of good parenting and many lauded her as hero mom of the year.

It is disappointing that many hailed her action and called for more ‘black mothers’ to whip their ‘erring’ sons into line! Are we so desensitised to violence that we don’t see anything wrong with a parent hitting a child in anger? You cannot discipline a child when you are out of control, not thinking straight or blinded with fear or anger. Toya Graham was expressing anger and fear, she admitted, “I just lost it”.

I cringed when I watched the video, the fear and violence hit me in the face! This is not what good parenting looks like. This is not what discipline looks like. This is not what makes a hero mom. This is FEAR. This is ANGER. This is a panicked mother lashing out at her child. This is an adult hitting a child she knows will not hit her back.

Hitting your child in a fit of anger is not discipline; it is child abuse. Lashing out at your children in fear because you want to keep them safe is not Love; it is child abuse.

It is never OK to hit a vulnerable person especially one you know will not/cannot hit you back. The 16-year-old boy did not resist; he followed his mum as she commanded, but that did not stop her from hitting him in blinded anger and fear.

As a single mum, i understand the urge to protect our children; however hitting a child is never the way. A look at the many messed up adult Nigerians who boast about being used as punching bags by their parents while growing up (an abnormality that is considered very normal in that neck of the woods), and use that to justify hitting their own children, tells us this is a vicious circle that does no good. Asked if the beatings or scars their parents inflicted as deterrents stopped them from doing the thing they were beaten for, many proudly admit that they simply found other ingenious ways of doing it without getting caught.

Hitting a child is never the solution, and hitting someone who cannot or are forbidden by culture or law to defend themselves against such attacks, is child abuse, domestic partner abuse or police brutality. No matter how much it is done out of love, it is still abuse.

When interviewed, Toya Graham said she hit her son because she did not want him to be the next Freddie Gray. This is very sad. It is saddening that black American mothers feel forced to hit their children to keep them safe from police brutality. However, hitting her son won’t protect him from being the next Freddie Gray, teaching him to cower in the face of injustice would most likely create more Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner. This only empowers the oppressors. Her son is not the oppressor. Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and other young and old black men and women killed for the colour of their skin were not the oppressors. We should not have to hit or force our children to toe the line of the oppressors in order to keep our children safe.

If you do not want your 16-year-old son to get involved in protests or riots, it is fine and understandable. However, hitting your son in private or public is not the way to have that conversation.

Being “Proactive” about the safety of your child does not have to involve hitting your child out of fear and anger. Adults, be they mothers, fathers or guardians know that no reasonable conversation can be had when violence is the instrument of control.  Beating a child in desperation, anger, or fear does not make anyone a “hero mom”.

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Smacking her 16-year-old son was framed as “saving him”. Being a control freak is not how you ‘save’ your child. This act of violence will not save her son from police brutality; after all, police brutality is the cause of the protests. The brave actions of those who stood up to say “Enough is Enough” is what could save her son and many other black men and women, from being another Freddie Gray.  There were peaceful protests before the riots broke out, the media ignored the peaceful protests, but when the rioters took over, the news spread like wildfire, and they got their voices heard. We can argue from now until eternity about the right or wrong of violent protests, but one thing is clear, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” However, the right or wrong of the protests/riots is not the focus of this post.

The mother is not a hero mum; she is a bully-mum. Hitting is not a reasonable way of holding a conversation with anyone, especially one who cannot defend themselves against such attacks. There are many ways to lay down the rules for a child; violence is not one.

It is so unfortunate that many African adults think of their childhood and what they vividly recollect is the many times they were beaten by their parents or siblings. Most times, amongst siblings, the beatings were not about correcting attitudes but about domination, asserting control and instilling fear in the most vulnerable members in the family. There is a big difference between respect and fear. We cannot earn respect by instilling fear in others.

From reports, Toya Graham told her son not to join the protests, but he did anyway. He obviously felt strongly enough about the injustice and police brutality in their town to put his own life at risk. His mother knew this, but did she have a discussion with him or did she just lay down the Almighty Mum order- “Thou shall not join your friends at the protest”? In what ways and manner did she explain the risks to her son?

Laying a good foundation for building a trusting relationship with one’s child cannot be achieved overnight, and it definitely cannot be achieved with threats of smacks and violence. This woman erred. She needs to control her anger and look at the larger picture. Her son might grow to resent her, while he just continues to smile for the camera in public.

Do mothers get a free pass to hit their children because they gave birth to them? This woman repeatedly hit her son out of fear and anger even though the son was not resisting. How many times have we condemned police officers when they hit people who were not resisting arrest? We do not “knock” someone into reality by hitting them, that would be child abuse, domestic partner abuse; it is known as violence. Hitting someone is not the way to have a conversation. Hitting a child out of fear and in anger is child abuse. Hitting is not a solution.

Children disobey their parents, it is part of growing up, and it is the duty of the parents to learn how to discipline their wards without veering towards child abuse. Child abuse is something we have to think about even if we are not parents. Child abuse happens around us all the time, while visiting family members, inside our neighbours’ houses, on the street etc. We do not have to wait to be rudely jolted into a position where we had to make a quick decision on whether to hit our child before we start researching the difference between child abuse and disciplining a child. Conversations about what constitute child abuse, what we have been taught while growing up, and what we have learned should help us be better prepared to handle these situations.

Some Africans have tried to hail her action by claiming, “Our parents whipped us and we turned out fine“. We should understand that, “This is how our ancestors did it” is not a reason to continue any practice, especially harmful practices. Culture is not a reason to commit atrocities. As I wrote in one of my earlier posts, Child abuse is not discipline or African, it is simply cruelty to children.

Making a split second decision to hit our child or lash out at a vulnerable person just because we were put on the spot won’t be the best way to react. “I was angry” or “I was afraid for his safety” are not excuses that justify hitting children.

Attempting to discipline children when we are in a state of anger, afraid or out of control cannot yield good results. We might not know how we would react as parents if put in certain hard scenarios, however it is good to give what constitute child abuse and discipline a thought. Also, it is not just about our children, it is about all the children facing child abuse. It is about being better prepared to recognise child abuse when we see it.

No matter how the media spins this, this is not the face of a hero-mum. This woman owes her son a heart to heart talk and a public apology.

Related link-

Child abuse is not discipline or African, it is simply cruelty to children.

South Africa and Xenophobic Attacks: Simply No Justification

On March 20, 2015, xenophobic attacks broke out in Durban, South Africa, some disgruntled South Africans turned on their neighbours, viciously attacking foreigners, mostly immigrant black Africans. This set in motion a wave of anti-immigrants attacks. The locals accused migrants of taking local jobs. They wanted the foreigners out of their country. Since the attacks, many deaths have been recorded and thousands of foreigners have fled for their lives, with many rendered homeless and in hiding.

A Mozambican man, Emmanuel Sithole was stalked, stabbed and murdered on the streets by vicious South Africans, According to reports, many including policemen watched while he pleaded for his life.

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The Nigerian consul-general in South Africa, Uche Ajulu-Okeke said  – [Read more…]

Chapel Hill Shootings: Condemning religion does not an Islamophobe make, Atheism does not a superior moral being make

The gruesome murders of Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, all Muslims, in the gun-toting hand of Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, an atheist, is appalling and a tragedy. I cannot begin to imagine what the families of these victims must be going through.

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CNN reported

According to the law enforcement official briefed on the investigation, Tuesday’s altercation started after Hicks found a car belonging to one of the victims in what he claimed was his parking space. Then Hicks went to the victim’s condo and shot all three people in a confrontation.

Hicks turned himself in to police Tuesday night and is being held in the Durham County Jail without bond. He is cooperating with investigators, police said Wednesday morning.

Mohammad Abu-Salha The father of the female victims feels differently, he believes it is an hate crime.  He stated

We have no doubt that the way they looked and the way they believed had something to do with this

Karen Hicks, the soon to be ex-wife of Craig Stephen Hicks expressed her shock and sympathy, she however stated

This incident had nothing to do with religion or the victims’ faith, but in fact was related to the longstanding parking disputes that my husband had with the neighbors

According to Craig Stephen Hicks’ neighbour, Samantha Maness it was an equal opportunity anger situation.

I have seen and heard him be very unfriendly to a lot of people in this community,” Samantha Maness, another resident of the Finley Forest development, told the Times. She said that Hicks displayed an “equal opportunity anger” and that he made “everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

Why are some atheists blaming ‘Extreme Atheism’ for Chapel Hill shootings? 

I watched in bewilderment as some atheists assume extreme atheism was to blame for the murders. Some have [Read more…]

The Charlie Hebdo tragedy: The five crowds that are getting it wrong

In the wake of the atrocious murder of Charlie Hedbo’s journalists by Islamist fundamentalists which led to #Jesuischarlie, it is sad that some people have chosen this horrendous time to falsely accuse the magazine of the very thing it stands against; Racism, Sexism, Homophobia and Misogyny.

As Libby Nelson wrote in Charlie Hebdo: its history, humor, and controversies:

Charlie Hebdo is known for its cartoons, which are often raunchy and provocative, whether they depicted the Prophet Mohammed or portrayed the Pope performing holy communion with a condom.

Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, who was murdered in the attack, described the newspaper’s positions in 2012 as left-wing, secular, and atheist.

Below are 5 different crowds that are getting it wrong and why.

1- The “Charlie Hebdo is racist and sexist” crowd

This crowd eagerly post some of Charlie Hedbo’s cartoons with the aim of accusing the magazine of racism and L4057-1011.0sexism, without caring to dig into the context.

The context of Charlie Hebdo’s Parodies/cartoons is easily understood by the French but not easily understood by outsiders, unless they are conversant with French politics. Some of these cartoons can be viewed and understood under the piece What are some of Charlie Hebdo’s most famous cartoons?

At first glance, these cartoons might appear racist, sexist, and ill-thought-out, but after reading the contexts, this is usually not the case.

So, “What was the context of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon depicting Boko Haram sex slaves as welfare queens?”

This is what Libby Nelson has to say:

Charlie Hebdo covers often combined two unrelated stories to make a satirical point. In the context of the magazine’s leftist politics, this seems to be about spoofing not Nigerian trafficking victims, but French welfare critics, who have argued that France should cut welfare programs to prevent immigrant women from exploiting them. The cover, in this view, seems to say, “Hey, welfare critics, you’re so heartless that you probably think that even Nigerian sexual slavery victims are money-grubbing ‘welfare queens.

This is what French people have to say about it on Quora [Read more…]

#Ferguson: Mike brown and the “It is not a race thing” Apologists.

I have been unable to bring myself to write a blogpost on ‪#‎Ferguson for weeks now. Reading the updates is overwhelmingly heart wrenching. However, my sadness and pain won’t shield me from the myriad of stupid, wilfully ignorant and racist comments and memes that pops up on my newsfeed. If anything, those comments, status updates and memes contribute to my pain and anger. Michael Brown, 19, was unarmed when he was shot eight times in the middle of a street in Ferguson. And now, there is the case of Eric Garner, an African American choked to death by a white police officer.

It is disheartening when in an attempt to deny the racial aspect involved in Mike Brown’s murder, people who should know better post things like:

“This is not a race thing”

“I married a white person, my in-laws are white and they are not racists “

“All black people are not criminals; All white people are not racists”

“What if Mike brown was white?”

“Can’t we just move on?”

“But all lives matter!”

Those comments expose the comfortable ignorance people maintain on race related issues. Many white people are quick to deny white privilege. Some black people are quick to exclaim in unison with their white in-laws, “Not all white people are racists, can’t we just move on?”

An atheist black friend who should know better posted a video purportedly showing Mike Brown shoplifting, without any clarification and the first commenter, another black person, immediately wrote, “He shoplifted, he should be shot.” [Read more…]

On the street harassment video: Calling out racism should not drown out the sexism in the video.

When I watched the street harassment video titled 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman, my first thought was, forget 10 hours, that is my experience as a woman 557264_423393704397930_1730387465_nwalking the 10 minutes distance to my gym!

Catcalls and street harassments are daily experiences many women have learned to live with. Many of us have spoken out against this experience many times. However, are we ever taken seriously? No. Instead, trolls invade such posts with excuses like “Not every man”, “I am not your kind of feminist”, “This is why I hate feminists”… blahblahblah

Therefore, I was actually happy just to see a video documenting an actual experience of catcalls and street harassment going viral. In all honesty, I was not looking at the skin colour of the guys in the video, I was more about their words and often I went,  oh, I have heard that or oh that is a popular one. I guess to me, my street harassers have one thing in common, they are men, they say the same shit, they want control, they treat me like objects, and they feel entitled to my body. They are men that feel entitled to my time, who feel they must compliment my body and they get annoyed when I don’t beam at their validation of my beauty. They get angry when I don’t smile when they command me to smile on the street while going about my errands, some even get violent when I don’t reciprocate their unsolicited attention. They do all these regardless of their skin colour. So nope, I was not watching out for skin colour of my everyday street harasser in that video because what binds street harassers together is not their skin colour but their male identity, male privilege or better put, misogyny.

However, I was glad when people started pointing out the racial aspect of the video, especially when the maker of the video was exposed for a similar racist editing he had done in a previous ad video and also a homeless man makeover ad video.  The discussions were good and enlightening.

However, as a woman who is very much affected by this catcalling, street harassment culture, I am worried that in an attempt to call out racism, focus is being taken [Read more…]

Sensationalising the Plight of African LGBTs

I am often approached at LGBT events especially at protests rallies by filmmakers and journalists who want to write a piece or make a 04338_yemisi_ilesanmidocumentary on the ‘horrible’ situation of African Lesbians and gays (they hardly take cognizance of bisexuals and Trans).

There is no doubt that African LGBTs who reside in countries where their sexual orientation is criminalised face a daunting task. Living a closeted life or choosing to face the consequences of being out and proud in a society where one’s sexual orientation is criminalised is frightening and dehumanising. I have been there, I am still there, and I know how horrible the threats can be. So yes, I understand why the filmmakers and writers are fascinated with telling this horror story.

However, a recurring theme makes me cringe every time I am approached by filmmakers or journalists demanding that I tell the horror stories or at least provide them some graphic pictures of violence suffered by African LGBTs. There is this fascination with the horror stories and abused bodies of African LGBTs that I am beginning to wonder if it is a voyage into morbid porn and/or just another way to portray Africans as victims.

When I inform these filmmakers and journalists that I do not have pictures of abused African LGBTS to share with them, they are immediately crestfallen. It is my opinion that most of them haunt African LGBT activists protest grounds not because they are interested in the fight for African LGBT Rights but because they see the plight of African LGBTs as a way of furthering their career in Journalism or film industry.

A heart-wrenching, graphic documentary on the abuses suffers by African LGBTs and why African LGBTS need white saviours could turn a [Read more…]

Just another sexist and racist encounter at the hospital

After many failed attempts to get an appointment at the surgery, I decided I was not going to endure another restless, sleepless, sweaty, tossing and turning night, so I dragged myself to my local Accident & Emergency/Walk in Center. At the entrance to the hospital is a big sign that reads, “If you have flu, stay at home, and call your GP”.  Well, I have flu-like symptoms and I have spent the last three days trying to get an appointment with my GP to no avail.  Majority of the NHS surgeries now have a rule that one can only book an appointment on the particular day within the hour of 8:00am -9:00am. Anything outside that, one would have to wait until the next day and start the process again. The problem is, as soon as it is 8:00am, the line becomes engaged. Try every minute and you will keep getting the busy tone. It is frustrating.

Anyway, I decided I have not been diagnosed with Flu, I needed treatment, and i am not going to self-diagnose or self-prescribe. Therefore, I walked to the reception room, and requested to see a doctor.

The following discussion ensued- [Read more…]

“We do not learn about our history by sitting in cages or sitting in slave ships and re-enacting how many lashes we had and seeing our skins with all those abrasions.” On Exhibit B-The human zoo. A great talk by Esther Stanford-Xosei.

The Barbican center is yet to cancel the awfully racist, dehumanising and traumatising exhibition titled ‘Exhibit B’ by white South African, Brett Bailey. Exhibit B- the human zoo, is a dehumanising, racist voyeurism in the name of art.

Below is a video of a great talk by “Reparationist, Jurisconsult, dynamic community advocate and radio Broadcaster Esther Stanford-Xosei” courtesy of London Live 360 TV  It is a must watch interview!

  [Read more…]

Exhibiting Africans in a Human Zoo is not Art, it is Racist Voyeurism! Please sign this petition.

The Human Zoo exhibition ‘Exhibit B’ by white South African Brett Bailey is disgusting and dehumanising! As a black woman in the 21st century, my skin colour or body should not be on exhibition for the voyeuristic, closeted pleasure of racist privileged white people. My ancestors already suffered this humiliation, I should not have to watch it happen again under the pathetic excuse of “It is Art”.

If the people at the Barbican Centre cannot see why this is racist and dehumanising, they need to raise their social consciousness and awareness.

As for the artist, white South African Brett Bailey, I think he already knows that he is a racist asshole, afterall his reported use of the ‘N’ words testify to this.

It is not art, it is an outlet for him and his fellow racist, privileged white people to enjoy voyeuristic, closeted racist pleasure at the expense of [Read more…]

When we say #BlackLifeMatters, please don’t butt in with your blind privilege.

Elon James White‏@elonjames

If I say #BlackLifeMatters and your response is “Why not EVERY life?” Unfollow me. You dont get it & I dont have time to explain it to you.”

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I came across the tweet above and i had to say, “Well said, Elon James White, well said“. Unfortunately this kind of tweets always get some of my white friends on facebook in a twist. What is so unfortunate is that some of them think they are well meaning people who want equal rights for all. If only they would take a minute to do their research and understand how the society they live in works. Everyone should learn to see their own privilege, be it skin colour, sexual identity, sex birth, geographical location, religion or class.

To be blind to your privilege is to not understand or see how you benefit from the society due to your status, a status you might not be conscious of but which is enough to deny the persons who don’t have that status the benefits you get. Heck, it might even cause the persons their lives while you go around not even acknowledging that you have that privilege. Yes, it is frustrating.

A few of my very good white friends on social media think this is sad and they don’t like it when I put up such status calling out [Read more…]

Shocking and depressing migration attempts

It was shocking and depressing watching the video coverage of African men as they attempt to migrate to Europe on-board a 1squalid boat, in highly dangerous situation. Their boat engine developed a fault, they were found after two days drifting in the sea without food. They were arrested and squashed together in a horrible small cell. They were the lucky ones. Many had died trying to cross the sea illegally into Europe. Many will still die attempting the dangerous voyage.

BBC reports

The number of people attempting the dangerous sea crossing from North Africa to Italy has risen sharply, says Frontex, the EU border agency.

Quentin Sommerville gained exclusive access to one group, detained by the Libyan authorities while trying to make the crossing.

Some people may find his report from the city of Misrata distressing.

Well, I didn’t just find it distressing; I find it highly depressing and shocking.

What are African leaders doing? The politicians obviously do not care at all about the conditions their African brothers and sisters live in. It is these very conditions that force many Africans to flee their continent, sometimes employing life threatening methods just to get away. Wars, poverty and desperation continue to push people towards dangerous escape routes. [Read more…]

Avoiding Ableist or Sexist Language Won’t Make Us Less Fun!

I found this amazing campaign on a website and decided to share on my facebook wall.  As stated on the website , “The following are images from the “You Don’t Say?” Campaign out of Duke University. The premise of the campaign is to encourage people to think before speaking as the words one delivers can have negative implications that were never intended in the first place, especially to those around us.

These phrases are often said with harmless intent. But how do we really make those around us feel? Perhaps it’s time for us to actually think before we speak?”

 The images show different persons holding different signs  –

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When I posted this wonderful piece as my FB status update, I added-

 And I don’t say “Don’t be a retard” because it is Ableist . [Read more…]

Adieu, Nelson Mandela; the Great Madiba!

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Nelson Mandela was probably the first name I ever associated with Human rights during my childhood. His relentless struggle against apartheid nurtured in me the fire against injustice. I identified with his struggle for Freedom and Equality; he was my human right hero and a living lesson in compassion and forgiveness. To me, the name ‘Mandela’ was  (and still is) synonymous with anti-apartheid, defiance against injustice, fight for equality and a passion for justice. It later became synonymous with Forgiveness. [Read more…]

Blackface Is Not OK For Halloween Or Any Other Occasion!

Blackface is not OK for Halloween, it is not OK for your themed parties and definitely not for dressing up as a mal-jolsonurdered black teenager! I can’t believe we still have to educate some white people on why black face is never OK.

It is surprising that even some supposedly progressive white friends on social media think their black friends are being oversensitive about Blackface. Any friend of mine who hits me with the bullshit  “Don’t be too sensitive about racism” will get not just a mouthful of sensitive words but also get lectured, if not immediately booted out.  If knowing the history of Blackface, you still choose to find and justify some ‘good’ intent behind it, you really need to check your privilege.

For those who still do not know the origin of Blackface or who want to live in denial, please do your research on the history of Blackface before you don your racist Halloween costume or defend those who think Halloween is not complete without Blackface. [Read more…]