When I heard about Adrian Peterson’s switch-beating of his 4 yr. old son with all the gruesome details, I was filled with disgust. Then he claimed that he was brought up that way, and he did it to teach his son right from wrong. Ignorant of child development and playing out his own treatment, I thought—not to mention the power and privilege of his position with the NFL that apparently gave him the right. Then I heard Michael Eric Dyson on television and read his NY Times Op-Ed piece on the subject.
Dyson, the author of sixteen books on subjects such as Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Cosby, and soon Obama, is a Georgetown sociology professor and outspoken and highly influential African American. Hearing his perspective opened my eyes.
According to Dyson, black Americans have a distinct history with severe corporal punishment dating back to slavery. “Black parents beat their children to keep them from misbehaving in the eyes of whites who had the power to send black youth to their deaths for the slightest offense”, Dyson says. “Today, many black parents fear that a loose tongue or flash of temper could get their child killed by a trigger-happy cop. They would rather beat their offspring than bury them.” These fears are not unfounded.