Posts Tagged ‘Suntimes’

I’m a Bitch

I’m a bitch. At least that is what the sister called me right after she slapped her daughter several times upside the head and told her to “shut the fuck up.” The mother had paused her reverse trek out of a grocery store’s parking space to deliver the slaps. She’d blocked traffic and turned her body full around to “really beat her ass,” as I guess the slaps didn’t demonstrate the full rage she intended. A little boy of about 5 or 6 sat next to the girl in the backseat looking on without emotion.

The girl couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. I’d heard the sound from the slap along with the reactionary cry that came on its heels. It was a child’s cry yet so full of anguish and disgrace, that I could feel the hurt…and I took it personally.
Something pulled the mother’s eyes to me, as I stood there staring into the car with my mouth hanging open in disbelief and shock. I know she could see the disgusted shade that I threw her way. If looks could kill, I was hoping to land her an eyeful to the throat. But they don’t. So she lived on and drew in her breath only to direct her rage towards me and say, “Bitch, I don’t give a fuck!”

Well, that was obvious.

I continued to stare at her and give her the evil eye, along with another woman who’d happen to witness it all, too. But she went about her business and sped out of the lot. I was thankful that for a few moments she’d redirected her rage at me and not on baby girl. I was glad La’Keisha had woke up focused on the 8a.m. trip to the local grocer. Relieved that Keisha was repressed in my body and still sleeping, not too alert and ready for the BS.

I walked into the store to do my shopping in deep thought. One thing’s for sure, it provided a moment to self reflect. A few years ago, Keisha would’ve invited the grown woman out of the car to hit a grown woman the way she hit that child, or at least told her how ignorant and common she was. Probably would’ve been mad enough to cuss her out, too. But for what?  The children witnessing yet more violence? Perpetuating the stigma to the children that fighting, cussing, and arguing is how black women get down and interact? Or worse, not getting the food for my home, locked up in a police station?

Not worth it. So I accepted being her bitch and whatever else she wanted to call me.

But something has to be worth it to advocate for children who are abused, in public or their own homes, at the hands of their mothers. The question is how?

Institutionalized policy has done a job on Black families. For instance, had I simply taken down the license plate and called the police to report the incident, what would happen? Either of two extremes. One extreme being that police would not be able to take any action, but simply make a report. The car probably didn’t really belong to the driver and so the woman would not be identified or pursued. OR, they could make out the report, call DCFS, have the lady investigated, she is found to be unfit and the children placed in child protective services or foster care to meet fates and circumstances much more horrific than slaps and blows.

This situation bothered me most of the day. Because I know that mother. She lives on my block, she is a parent at my children’s schools, and she is in my family. I went back to that parking lot today while reading Mary Mitchell’s column in the Chicago Suntimes.

And like Mary gives so many examples, we all can admit we know mothers like that. But how do we speak out and admonish her, force her to change her ways and PROTECT the children in her care.

True story…when I was little, I remember my mother telling my sisters and me that no one was to put their hands on us. If they did we should fight back and let her know about it. I took those words to heart. Nobody would cause me or my sisters harm, verbally or physically. Still I had an adult try on many occasions under the auspice of ‘disciplining” me. I was about 9 or 10 and I fought like a mad woman protecting her child. I refused to cry. I refused to be beaten.

I cried a little yesterday, though. Because from the sound of that baby girl’s cry, I know her spirit had been beaten and it was broken. I know it’ll be broken more and more, and more than likely, she’ll have her own little girl before she is healed.

Hopefully someone has some words of advice to help those who hurt in the hearts yet don’t know how to help mothers like this one and their babies.

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