The NFLʼs latest disciplinary action against Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson smacks of institutional and structural racism. Plain and simple, it is a continuing attack on the African American male by the establishment in an attempt to further emasculate and marginalize the Black male’s position as a patriarch of African American families.
These attacks on the black male are nothing new. They date back to the inception of the Transatlantic slave trade in which black males were systematically brutalized and victimized for the purpose of subjugating the race. White slave holders realized that if the Black male could be reduced to a sniveling, shuffling, head-scratching character, then the entire race of African Americans could be held in check. To accomplish this societal, political and cultural result, a number of insidious but ingenious plans were implemented that would have the effect of reducing the Black male’s standing in the familial structure, and thereby upsetting any type of hierarchical leadership or perceived authority that might normally be associated with the head of family.
Peterson, initially charged with felony child abuse after whipping his four year old boy with a switch, plead no contest recently to a misdemeanor thereby concluding the criminal case pursuant to compliance with community/ public service announcements against domestic violence. While the criminal case played out, Peterson was serving an eight-game suspension from the NFL with pay under a “Commissioner’s exception”. After applying for reinstatement following the conclusion of the criminal matter, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell refused Peterson’s reinstatement request and declared the player ineligible for the remainder of the season, and that the earliest Peterson could return would be April 15, 2015. Goodell, in a letter, further stated that the switch Peterson used was “the functional equivalent of a weapon”, and that Peterson’s return to the NFL would depend on Peterson’s actions, after finding that the player showed “no meaningful remorse.” With Peterson’s return contingent on his “understanding the nature of his transgressions,” i.e., learning his lesson, this treatment violates the spirit of the legal concept of double jeopardy which dictates that a man cannot be tried or punished twice for the same offense. All of this for an act of child discipline which for decades has been accepted as part and parcel of black culture. Even the Holy Bible says, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”
Here we have just the latest instance of white folk dictating cultural norms for black families, to the detriment of African Americans. This attack on the cultural norms of discipline in black families began in the 1960s with the advent of desegregation. Prior to integration, black children were taught, reared, and disciplined without interference from white folks. During these pre-integration years, black kids such as myself were the models of decorum and self-control. I believe a main ingredient in the rise of pre- integration African Americans was the rule of corporal punishment at home and in schools. After integration, corporal punishment was disallowed in public schools because white folk didn’t want Black teachers applying physical discipline to white kids.
Consequently, what started as a movement against spanking in the schools moved into the homes of black people, with departments of child and social services becoming the arbiters of what constituted proper discipline of black kids.
This intrusion by white folks into the rearing of black children correlates with the endemic rise of Black youth being funneled into the pipeline of the American industrial prison complex, and the criminal justice system. Although blacks make up a mere 13 percent of the U.S. population, we represent 65 percent of the inmates in American jails and prisons. Is this huge disparity because of Blacks’ innate propensity to crime? I think not! The answer to be sure is multifaceted, but undoubtedly part of the problem is the inability of black families to discipline their children in the time-honored and culturally accepted norm of corporal punishment. Today Black kids grow up in environments where there is a lack of discipline and respect for authority in the home and the schools. The result is the disparate numbers of black kids dropping out of school and being dropped into the increasingly privatized corporate prison system, which rewards private investors based on the number of prison beds that are occupied.
As for Adrian Peterson, I applaud him. I applaud him for the courage to stare down Roger Goodell and the lynch mob mentality of the American media which has declared outright war on the black male as illustrated in the recent cases of Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and others. To Peterson’s credit, he has stood up and said that he would “not eliminate whipping his kids.” Kudos to you Mr. Peterson! Some things are more important than football, and the fickle perceptions of public opinion endorsed by white America. Let us not be fooled by the Uncle Tom, handkerchief-head, sell out Negroes who mouth whatever is convenient or palatable through the oppressive cable news network conglomerates. These shameless Negroes will curse their own mothers just for a chance to sit at the table with the white news media thereby gaining a distorted sense of credibility, and for a few pieces of silver!
Editor’s note: Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, scholar, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions on TheTruthTeller at the-truth-teller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.