Mon | Dec 10, 2018

Letter of the Day | Cutlass beating video shows society's ugliness

Published:Tuesday | October 3, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Corporal punishment has been an entrenched part of Jamaican culture. The Bible is often used to justify its significance in contemporary society.

Indeed, many of us got our fair share of beating. Owen 'Blakka' Ellis, in one of his comedy routines, spoke of how he got "beatings in arrears". He sometimes got beatings brought forward for an act that was not adequately accounted for, and "beating in the back" [sic] literally and figuratively.

The viral video and subsequent endorsement in some circles of a Jamaican woman beating a Jamaican teenage girl child is the result of normalised and institutionalised violence against dark-skinned people, and in particular, dark-skinned females. The most disrespected person in Jamaica is the woman, and the most marginalised person in Jamaica in the black woman.

It is discouraging for Jamaican girls and women to be in a constant state of proving their worthiness to occupy an equal space in society to their parents, friends, clergymen, dancehall DJs, beauty competition judges, and bosses.

The Jamaican woman is carrying an unhealed psychological and physical burden, and the actions in that violent video are a mirror of society's conduct towards all females.

There is little compassion in many of the structures set up to nurture the minds of young girls, like the Church, schools, the family, parents, and other organisations that are supposed to protect children. That was likely not the first time the child was getting a merciless whupping.

The woman is upset enough to be half-naked while carrying out her frustrations by beating the girl with a machete. How is she frustrated at the child's behaviour, whatever it may be, and not be ashamed of exercising frustration and uncontrolled emotions to the point of nakedness and attempting to whip a child with a sharp and dangerous object?

Corporal punishment means pain to the body, and black people have a history of bearing the effects of this barbarity. This was delivered to her through cultural institutions and memes, and she handed down the hurt to another generation. The same determination that the child had when she ran away will make her an angry child, and then fearless, and she will never forget the moment. Especially now that the world is aware of it. Are we raising children to become more powerful, live well and live fully; or are we raising broken human beings?

We have made violence the normal corrective measure for children. Parents often tell teachers "only save the eye" when disciplining their child. Meaning the teachers can do anything they want except hitting the child in the eye.

Regardless of the issue, children need love. That video is worthy of protest and a call to action by well-thinking minds and childcare groups.