our babies and the PIC*

*PIC: prison industrial complex

yesterday i spent the day at the WIC office (Women, Children, and Infants food supplemental program), then went to visit with my midwife at The Community Birthing Center for a regular check up.

when i got home i felt heavy. i recalled my day and realized that the visits to WIC can be pretty intense. i overheard women talk about different discipline measures they use with their children. as with most folks, spanking was referred to as one way of teaching children a lesson. now, what was most intense about this whole conversation was NOT the fact they were talking about spanking or not spanking their children BUT WHY they choose to do it or not and WHERE the decision is coming from.

in as little words as possible i will try and explain what i took away from their exchange on the topic. they spoke of an embedded FEAR of their children, especially moms with boy-children, ending up LOCKED UP in prison if they don’t use spanking as a discipline method. one woman shared how one day she was spanking her boy out in the street and a cop came up to her to ask what she was doing. she said, “I’m spanking my child so that when he is older, he doesn’t end up with you.”

REAL TALK. that is how folks feel. they know that we live in a society where black, brown, and poor children/youth are being HUNTED and locked up. some may think that it’s an exaggeration to talk this way but if you are at all connected to the any Black, Brown, or poor community then YOU KNOW i am not at all talking smack or exaggerating.

so this morning, i woke up nervous, in a rush, late and ultimately deciding not to go to my brothers court meeting. the 1 hour plus drive from long beach to downtown l.a. in the rain was not going to allow me to get their on time and the court date was going to be pushed back until next month so nothing much was going to happen anyway. my parents, grandpa, and brothers’ kids were going so i felt that family support was covered.

the extra self-love morning time allowed me to dig a little deeper into these thoughts on how to raise children protected from the PIC. even if parents and communities raise the most perfect children/youth/adults that is only less than 50% of the job. the system is still hunting. and whether our kids wear baggy clothes or not, they will be stopped, harassed by the cops SIMPLY by the color of their skin, where they live, or where they are hanging out at any particular moment..AKA a White community, shopping mall, university in their community that black and brown folks don’t attend much…etc. you get what I’m saying? so not only do we have to protect our children (born and unborn) from the hunt but we also have to raise them to have self love, self respect, and be accountable for their actions by a larger community of folks so they don’t think they can just do anything and not have to face consequence in respectable, loving, but stern ways that does not include the PIC.

all that said, parenting is a life long, full time job…AND folks in these primary care taker roles need a ton of support so that parenting is not done in isolation from community.

what happens if we raise children knowing that they are held in community and ritual versus a nuclear family setting where parenting is often more easily privatized? what discipline measures have other/or do other political, conscious, and spiritual communities use to raise their children? only one answer for now: more homework and discussions to have as well as experimentation.


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