Hi Meltingpot Readers,
Yesterday the New York Times magazine ran a cute essay by the writer Toure on spanking. The premise of the article or at least what it seemed to want to be about, was whether spanking was a Black or White parenting tool. As a Black man,Toure knew from experience and because he writes a lot about Black culture, that spanking is definitely an accepted practice in many Black households. Not all. But many. So he wanted to find out if White people are equally accepting.
The story takes a kind of funny turn and doesn't really answer the question, but I was left wondering. Not about whether spanking is really a Black or White phenomenon, but why we don't ever hear about spanking as a yellow or red or brown phenomenon? As with all things in this country that can be divided up or down the race line, why do we think Black and White are the only colors that matter? And as it relates to spanking, and as Toure's article illustrates, the color of one's skin really has nothing to do with it. Spanking at best is culturally influenced, at worst it's a violent reaction to one's child behaving badly.
I'm Black. I was spanked. Once. I learned my lesson and was never spanked again. El esposo's father never laid a hand on his children, but his mother whacked her three sons across the face, butt and any other body part she could get her hands on. Some of my Asian friends were spanked, some weren't. But we all live in America now and we're all raising our children and some of us spank and some of us don't. Does it help any of us become better parents to say spanking is a Black or White issue?
I think it's just another form of racial one upsmanship to claim Black people spank more than White or vise versa. And like I said, the conversation ignores all of the other people and cultures parenting in this country with opinions and parenting practices. I'm not pro or anti spanking. I think people should discipline their children in whatever way works for them and works for the child and doesn't do physical or psychological harm. And I think when trying to figure what that best way is, we should leave race out of the conversation.
What do you think? Is spanking a racial issue? Are there cultures where spanking is forbidden? Expected? Outlawed? I'd like to hear your opinions and experiences.