Earlier this month, I saw a news story that made my tight little nappy curls unfurl and stand straight on end.
Nebraska Health and Human Services officials removed a 17-year-old African American mother and her 2-year-old son from the family’s Omaha home after a video of the swearing toddler went viral.
The video, which shows a 2-year-old boy being coaxed to repeat foul language and give the camera the middle finger, gained national attention after the Omaha Police Officers Association posted a copy of the video on their website. A spokesman for the union said they posted the video to highlight the “cycle of violence and thuggery” the community faces.
Nebraska child welfare officials contend that the video had nothing to do with the removal of four children from the home, including the toddler, and his mother. Omaha police officials watched the video with prosecutors and determined no crime had occurred.
However, officials said they removed the minors from the home following a joint investigation involving the Omaha Police Department and Child Protective Services. The investigation determined the home environment was unsafe because of the family’s continued association with known gang members.
The entire series of events from the posting of the video by the OPOA to the removal of the children from the household is troubling for several reasons and calls attention to the current precarious state of the African American community—especially black males.
Critics of the video argue that teaching the toddler the n-word and other foul language amounts to life-altering child abuse that will hinder the toddler’s ability to escape the gang violence and thuggish dysfunction that characterize black life.
This assessment levied by conservative critics and adopted by much of the mainstream media illustrates a disconcerting acceptance of destructive stereotypes concerningblack men and boys that fosters individual racism and promotes systemic inequality.
It seems almost criminal that the mainstream media’s coverage of the cussing toddler story didn’t include a context for the creation of this kind of behavior. So, I’ll give it a shot.
In today’s hyperbolic crime infatuated world, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that one and three African American males can expect to go to prison in their lifetime and one out of 21 black males can expect to be murdered.
And if those numbers aren’t telling enough, a white male with a criminal record is 5 percent more likely to get a job over a black man with a clean record.
In light of such persistent destructive stats, why is it so surprising to the American public that the young black males off camera in the video don’t display their allegiance to the American value system in a way the status quo deems morally suitable? After all, the above statistics do a thorough job of informing this particular demographic group they are not wanted, needed or considered.
The most egregious of this criticism came from a Clarence Thomas-ian African American conservative pundit Lloyd Marcus from the Internet publication The American Thinker. The article was published a few days after a family court judge ordered the toddler be placed in the same foster home as his mother and accuses the liberal media of an ideological bias of sorts.
Marcus asserts that because of the liberal media’s insistence on viewing everything along racial lines, they failed to realize the disturbing video is offensive to all decent Americans.
Conversely the media paid very little attention to the lessons “the decent” members of the Westboro Baptist Church teach their youth. The group regularly teach their children to hate demographic groups based sexual orientation. Not to mention the physical harm the group routinely places their children in when they hold tensioned filled rallies showcasing that hate.
Although I don’t necessarily agree with the off camera antics of the people in the video, I didn’t find the video offensive.
I grew up with three older brothers, a cadre of cousins and countless neighbors – all teenage boys – who thought it was a blast to watch me, as a barely talking child slurring swear words. I didn’t grow up to be a gun toting gang member.
Little boys aren’t the only ones to receive these misguided lessons from loving family members. When my niece Morgan was a toddler, I would swing her and teach her some of the same language that was taught to me for no other reason than to get a laugh.
She grew up to become a responsible mother of three naturally inquisitive African American children who aren’t gun toting gang bangers.
Marcus asserts the liberal’s belief that the police union’s use of the video reinforces racial stereotypes leads to low-expectations that cripple the black community.
Unfortunately Marcus’ commentary did little in the way of providing any empirical or statistical evidence to support this claim.
However it did provide ample evidence of the use of conservative idealogy to brainwash other African Americans into thinking that the black community must overcome a few minute social ills on the path to racial acceptance and economic prosperity.
Unfortunately, Marcus doesn’t acknowledge that the pervasive problems facing the black community such as above average high school drop out rates, widespread addiction and mass incarceration are socially constructed and therefore can be socially dismantled.