Thursday, September 28, 2023

Teach Black Children How to Fight.

April 30, 2019 by  
Filed under Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Growing up, my uncle and my father were my two main family influences. I took what I observed and learned from them into adulthood before tweaking those for my own temperament and experiences.

My father was more of a diplomat in life: an extrovert, avoided conflict when possible, even tempered, wasn’t heavy on discipline, and loved to laugh with everyone. On the flipside, my uncle didn’t shy away conflicts (sometimes he reveled it), introverted, hot tempered, and loved to laugh when a good or bad prank was pulled off.

I was an extroverted but admittedly sensitive kid with a big frame and a temper. I got bullied at school and would take that out on my siblings. My father would tell me not to and to control my temper while my uncle would tell me not to and to fight bullies. “Lil James, you knock the sh** out of them” was often his solution to bullying.

Both taught me how to fight. My dad was a short marine who showed me how to throw a bunch and encouraged fighting dirty just to end fights quickly. My uncle was a big soldier who taught me how to overwhelm people and encouraged me to stomp them out, for lack of a better word.

Teaching Our Kids the Art of Fighting

I believe it’s important to teach our children how to fight. Whether it’s protecting their siblings, themselves, their own families as adults, some familiarity with fighting is necessary. In Black families, this often falls on the man. My mother was very much about avoiding conflict. She simply wanted us to graduate, get good jobs, and be decent people—the bare minimum of what parents should want from their kids.

Fighting is almost inevitable as a kid. Children tend to not know how far is too far with bullying. I’m not saying have your kid cave a bully’s sh** in but what can’t be heard must be felt. If someone won’t listen to a kid’s request to be left alone and teachers and principals won’t step in and regulate, self-governance is necessary.

If you’re not inclined to fight yourself, put the kids in martial arts classes. These classes teach children when to fight and to avoid conflict since they’re teaching for defense, health, encouragement and athletic reasons. Black belts aren’t going “Take the Fists of Ogun and go forth, smash the other children.”

Knowing When to Fight

Conflict has changed. If you listen to any old head, they’d tell you that things were solved with your fists. You two fought then you went home. If you fought the next day, so be it but the worst thing you could suffer were some black eyes, bruises, and a bruise to your pride.

In my time, fighting could see you get ambushed and you never knew who had a weapon on them. I mean, school yard fights are basically street fights but damn. At worst you could end up in the hospital or dead.

Will it lead to other problems for the kid? Likely. There’s detention, suspension, bullies who are going to want a rematch, ambushes, etc. Some school officials take a “If he dies, he dies” approach to dealing with children’s problems. “A little trauma builds character.” To a degree this is true but there is a such thing as “enough is enough.”

Then there’s the whole “children need to learn to solve their own problems.” It backfires more often than not depending on how reasonable the parties are. If one side is relentlessly taunting and harassing one side and the other is fed up with, they’re not going to talk out their differences. There’s no debate there, one kid is being a jerk and provoking the other.

Knowing when to walk away is just as important as knowing when to bless someone. Fighting with your words isn’t always going to work. Often times it just buys time before you must fight back given the way that the world is today with aggression’s, situations that escalate quickly or how the most vulnerable among us can be targets, Black children knowing when to step up or stand down can mean the difference between life, death and a compromised conscious.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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