Beef

Ok. The straw has broken the proverbial camel’s back.

I’ve sat in on one to many conversations with mothers going on and on about their child’s over the top behavior. As has been the case lately, I’m the lone Black mother in the room, conscious that  my words, tone, and facial expressions will probably be misconstrued… Yes, I am all too aware of the Sapphiric machinations that non-Black folk tend to expect from Black women.  One example that comes to mind- I expressed my frustration about another teacher, telling two White colleagues that I needed to go and have a talk with the woman. My male colleague says “Uh-oh, it’s about to be on up in here!”, with what HE intended to be Black girl affectations…

My liberated self (ego) won’t allow me to code switch when in mixed social company. Soooo, when I found myself a part of a recent discussion about parenting with a small group of White women, I couldn’t do anything but be who I am. When asked “what do you think?” about an idea, I gave an answer contrary to what was expected, and dare I say appropriate. Silence followed my response. One woman then offered a “compliment”, “I love that you keep it real. That’s so great!”

Later in the conversation,  another parent described a situation with her daughter, a precocious toddler who I’d say has some serious behavior issues. The mother went on laughing, describing how her “sweetie” doesn’t like her preschool teacher, and made a public announcement. Her “sweetie” doesn’t like to eat vegetables. Her “sweetie” doesn’t take naps because she doesn’t want to. And the piece de resistance: one day her little angel was very angry because she didn’t want to put something away and so when mommy took it, mommy got pimp slapped. Ok, maybe not pimp slapped, but you get the picture: the little girl hit the mommy multiple times, yelling and screaming.   Now up until this point, I held my tongue, and kept my facial composure.  But I couldn’t contain myself, I interjected- something akin to the “need to physically exorcise a demon out of your spawn”.    Dead. Silence.  The women were absolutely MORTIFIED that I would suggest such a thing. They each went on to explain why any sort of physical aggression toward a child was unacceptable.

I couldn’t help but feel alien…I suddenly wished for the community of my Sister friends.  They would understand. None of us are big on spanking our children…I didn’t mean it literally, but I didn’t want to have to explain to these women. They just didn’t get it, the unspoken understanding that certain things are unacceptable. Of course I don’t mean brutalize your child –  but I KNOW that in a circle of my Sisters, there would have been the chorus of “girrrrl” and talk about “breaking them off something” and “oh no! it ain’t goin’ down like that!” – and then laughter, and the…solidarity and understanding…

6 thoughts on “Beef

  1. I totally hear you. Once, I was talking about how Amina hit me – and immediately, a sister friend interjected with, “Who? Amina? The same child that is still in that room over there?” The implication being what Bill Cosby said – “I brought you into this world, and I’ll take you out!”

    It definitely seems that no matter what our parenting differences, among black mothers I feel more comfortable talking about my parenting strategies, even if I know other mothers may not agree. I don’t feel as ultimately judged as a “bad” mother. We can have a conversation about spanking and still be friends afterward. With my white mother friends, while I act the same, I do not get into parenting conversations with them, nor give advice about how to raise their kids, because it inevitably gets weird and tense. Because I also don’t change who I am or what I think or what I would say, and it ultimately alienates me from them. It could be that we weren’t really friends to begin with…

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  2. Yeh … the whole not spankin’ a child thing has reached epidemic proportions … ur obviously n this position for a reason. U r teachin’, but at the same time, learnin’. I wonder what it is that must b internalized n this time of self-imposed exile on ur part?

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    1. Sometimes I don’t even KNOW, this was something I just took for granted. Until coming here, I have mainly been around mothers of color…

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  3. I think there are SO many things “we” do that others would be like WTF.. and even we dont do them.. we understand LOL

    I’ve seen many a lil kid get their lil asses snatched up and I was like “See, thats what you get”. I don’t often make it a practice of hitting my child… but I understand.

    I definitely think I feel a stronger sense of community with other Black mothers, but I definitely know that there are some non-Black mothers I’ve bonded with strong over the years. Motherhood is universal and while there ARE some cultural differences in our approaches to it, we’re all still mothers.

    Speak your mind, be who you are, and rep strong for the Sista Mama!

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