*I will not be sharing the viral video of Nia Green being beaten at the hands of her mother on this site.*
This is the beauty of being a Black child… a Black girl. You’re beaten in the streets and are subjected to returning home to get beaten by the ones who are supposed to love you and protect you. Black skin never gets to know tenderness, gentleness, love and respect, only resentment.
The Nia Green video is exactly the kind of abuse (especially mother/daughter) that we ignore or joke about in our community. We HAVE TO DO BETTER. The video gave me flashbacks to my childhood and it’s so disturbing. I grew up being whooped and a lot of Black women/femmes did too. It’s abusive and traumatic but I know so many Black people see it as normal. So much so that we criticize white parents for NOT beating their children. We can not continue to hypersexualize our Black girls and wonder why they’re hurting.
*Backstory: Nia Green is a 16 year old Black girl from Chicago. Last week, her mother found out about her posting ‘provactive’ images on Facebook. Nia, wrapped in a towel and bending over the bathroom sink, was pictured with her boyfriend. When her mom found out, she took to Facebook’s new ‘live’ feature to record herself confronting and punishing Nia for the acts. The video was also allegedly recorded by Nia’s younger sister. Her mother proceeds to calling her a “thot” and ridiculing her for discharge and normal bodily function. Nia is hit repeatedly with what looks like a piece of plywood.*
My initial thoughts on the video/situation were a mix of anger, confusion and memories:
Plantation slavery no longer exists as a condition of living in the broader Western culture but the scars it left continue to show themselves as they interject themselves into our discourse about the intersections of sex, sexuality, girlhood, and Blackness. Young black girls are quickly taught that their bodies exist for consumption based on the falsehood that they are only capable and needed for reproduction. This ideology removes the agency from the decision to have sex and implies that sex must occur because that is the foundation of a black femme’s identity. I don’t understand what compels “parents” to record themselves BEATING their children and sharing it for the social media attention. Nia’s mother recorded this video because she wanted to shame her daughter for doing what she’d done. In doing this, she not only shamed her existence but she shamed her daughter’s sexuality and self-expression. Due to the way this situation is presenting itself, I doubt that any thorough conversations about sex/sexuality/self-expression occurred between this mother/daughter. Have the conversation with them as they’re grow & you won’t have to attempt to beat it into them when they’re nearing adulthood. Black parents have weird ideas of ownership that they exert onto their children which in turn, tend to create broken and/or scarred adults. “I had my tail BEAT when I was younger and I turned out just fine.” No. You did not “turn out just fine”. If you did, you wouldn’t say things like that. Hitting your children to teach them that hitting others is wrong makes no sense. “Beating them before the police do,” as justification for beating “troublemakers” makes no sense. This kind of behavior isn’t “tough love”. It’s abuse. Please, protect your daughters. Black girls are already being subjected to unnecessary, violent acts simply because they are Black girls. There’s no need to record them and condemn them. TALK TO THEM. The #FastTailedGirls experience is real and it projects so much damage onto Black girls during their early years. The video of Nia is also evidence that Black women internalize misogynoir and project it onto their daughters
Of course, Nia isn’t the first Black child to be abused by their parents and she’s not the first to have her abuse recorded. A few months ago, a Virginia father turned himself in after he posted a video to Facebook where he forced his son to box with him, leaving the 17 year old bloodied and traumatized. In May of 2015, 13 year old “Remy Riah” was verbally abused by her mother in a Facebook video for allegedly pretending to be older than she really was. There’s a long history of Black parents using humiliation as a form of discipline when their young, Black children disobey and/or upset them in some way.
There is also a long history of Black parenting revolving around children “getting their ass beat”. In many ways, it has a become a cultural norm. It’s almost as if positive reinforcement and conversation is a far fetched idea that Black parents simply can’t seem to wrap their minds around.
There are historical issues that correspond with the desire that Black parents have to physically punish their children. Not only is the physical component an issue, the shaming of Black girls for exploring their bodies/sexuality is historic as well. There’s something to be said about a culture that celebrates and promotes trauma and humiliation as a form of punishment. The studies are there.
Spanking causes all sorts of… complications to say the least. Mental health, puberty and brain development are all tremendously impacted by ‘whoopings’.
This video also calls in the conversation of the relationship between Black mothers and daughters… a relationship that for many is complicated and damaging. The saying goes, “Mother raise the daughters and love their sons,” meaning that mothers generally harbor emotional attachments to their sons and view their daughters as obligations and often times, competition.
I have to critique Black motherhood and I can because I am the product of a Black mother. Black mothers find out their daughters are sexually active on their own terms and their immediate responses are of disdain and disgust. Suddenly “Baby Girl” is a hoe, a slut and an embarrassment who just “lost something she can never get back (virginity)”. For many Black mothers, it seems as if their daughters are mirror images that trigger their own lack of self-love and body appreciation. The fact that their daughters are discovering and exploring their femininity and sexuality angers them. Many Black mothers hate their Black girls, because they hate themselves. They internalize the misogynoir projected onto them and regurgitate it onto their daughters in harmful ways, disguised as protection.
For years, Black girls have endured abuse at the hands of Black males in their families and have sought out their mothers for protection only to be blamed for their own assault. The biggest predator and killer of Black girls isn’t the police. It’s Black men and the women who support them.
I’m sure Nia Green’s mother was hoping for accolades and support, especially considering the GoFundMe account she posted after she was arrested, but she is no different than violent cops who would probably come to arrest her if they got called to the scene.