The Washington Post

Do whites and blacks view spanking differently?

Many black people can recount our encounters with the belt -  or switch if you were from down South.

I have rarely heard of a black person recounting tales of being put in “time out.” But I remember the horrified expressions on my white friends faces as black folks recounted, somewhat fondly, our experiences with Mr. Belt and Mr. Switch. (It wasn't until years later that I wondered if they realized my slave ancestors received whippings at the hands of overseers, so who really started the spanking trend?)

I know there are no absolutes on either side. But I wonder if generally cultural differences make us view situations differently?

When I first posted this video of a black man disciplining a young boy by giving him a jacked up haircut, spanking him with a belt, and making him do boot camp style exercise, I asked, "Is this child abuse?"  

From reading comments on this and other blogs, posts on Facebook and Twitter and talking with my black friends it seems that most can relate to the video as a deterrent to misbehavior. As one commenter said, “There is a fierce battle going on to save black boys."

To be clear, not all black children were/are raised in households where spankings  or “whippings” were options. But from my experience and that of my thirty-something and older friends, spankings or "beatings" were definitely on the menu.

I remember my aunts and uncles on my father's side telling us about their receiving “whoppers with cheese” at my grandfather's hand.  The more severe the whipping, the more condiments. A "Whopper with cheese" was bad but a “Whopper with cheese and extra pickles” was to be avoided at all costs.

With that in mind, it seemed that the overall perception (at least initially) from the black community was to applaud this man, Devery BrooX (still unclear if  he is the father,) on taking a stand and trying to prevent this young boy from ending up another jailhouse statistic.

The video went viral, beyond the confines and safety of the "community of color" to the wider and more diverse audience. The applause has turned into outrage and the man, Devery BrooX, a poet, vocalist and mentor has been labeled a heartless child abuser.

Which assessment is correct? Is he all those things? Is this a cultural misunderstanding? Maybe it’s more generational than cultural?

 I don't know. But I do think there is more here than meets the eye. I think we would be naive not to think that our cultural and familial experiences don't play a part in what we regard as appropriate discipline.

Has the pendulum swung too far or not far enough? Please weigh in and, if possible, give some background on your personal history. There is more to this story, and any story, than soundbites.

Here are links to the spanking video shot by Mr. BrooX, a recent CNN report, and video of a Mr. BrooX spoken word event.

For more Nikki Peele, check out her blog:

And on Twitter: @theadvoc8te

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