Like many black people, I grew up grinning at punchlines from black comedians about how creatively they beat their kids. I also grew up with a mom who, like many black moms, kept a mean set of belts hanging on the wall beside her bedroom closet.
I basically understand Alisa’s point here:
In urban environments where there were high stakes for lack of parental control and misbehavior this effect was particularly strong. The possibility of children getting lured into criminal behaviors such as theft or drug dealing or simply the greater dangers posed by them being in the street rather than in the house made it necessary to go to greater lengths make them comply with their parents.
…but I can’t really agree that it holds as a reasonable motive. Knowing my own mom, I understand that it probably explains why she whopped me — I was going to impress a college admissions board one day, whether I liked it or not! — but I knew plenty of kids in my (slightly) younger days whose parents whopped them worse despite their apparent disregard for their kids’ misdeeds in any other form. I’m talking about the parents who hit their kids but never bothered to show up for the parent-teacher conferences.
I’ve just never been comfortable with how much we boast on beating our kids. It’s not like young black boys are generally and especially well-adjusted as a result. I don’t say that as collective self-deprecation; I mean that the parents who brag the loudest about hitting their kids never seem to raise the most inspired children.
Again, I’m sure — from my own childhood, at least — that plenty of black parents beat their kids to snatch them back from the precipice, but some parents hit their kids when their kids get in their way and then apparently ignore them otherwise. The belt, for some, is tough-love policing, but for some I think it’s pathology.