If you have not already, please review the video of a mother watching a group of dreadlocked men holding a black male child down while he gets his haircut. The link is below.
Trigger Warning: Screaming, holding a child down, multiple men surrounding someone
As a black man, I know that the first haircut is a ritual for many black men. It is like a pass into symbolic manhood. I have gone through it with my dad and many of my peers endured it. I know for the few white and the many Asian friends I had during high school, that they went through the same thing. But I can only speak on my experiences as a black man.
I think that this ritual is done as a form of hazing and ego breaking. It lets the person know that they are not in control of their life choices and bodies and forces them to deal with that. This is a common practice in slavery, the military, and fraternities. It is a common practice to break the ego of a person in order to make them humble and compliant for the survival of whatever group they are to become a part of. It makes them compatible with their environment, which will beat them and destroy them if they buck the system the way the child bucked those men.
Before the system can begin it’s buck breaking in response to any bucking, I think black men want to ensure that younger black males know how to deal with or avoid the type of trauma that the young male in the video experienced. There are many times that a free, non-criminal, non-affiliated black man, such as I, have to withhold their pride and ego in order to survive. I know I can do that because my father did all this breaking to me as a child. If not for that, I would be dead or in jail, because white people gave it to me as a young adult and are keen on doing the same going forward. Racism is intense and unless you are introduced to it beforehand in one way or another, it can drive you mad or kill you.
As I live my life as a black man, I realize that it’s not just me. I always felt isolated in my experiences as a black man and it depressed me greatly, but again, I am not the only one. The more I read and listen to other black men’s stories, I realize that we share many of the same experiences.
While you may look at this video in sheer horror at the overreaction of the child, this prepares him for times in his life where other black men will hold him down or uphold him as oppressive forces do whatever they want to them. It is awful and similar to seasoning or slave breaking, but it matches the environment that black men have to go into every day. It prepares them and I appreciate that the mom let the men handle him, but not rough him up.
He was not being hurt and he was not being abused. He was getting a hair cut. There is abuse and with all the shit black people deal with on a daily basis, you have to question if some of it qualifies as abuse or unnecessary.
What I consider abuse:
Beating, Bruising, Fighting, and Cursing (literal and figurative)
Sometimes I think certain folks go too far. Like in the video down below.
Trigger warning: Hair shaving, sounds of a beating, running drills
Outside of the all the extra that is seen in the video, what many consider abuse seems so necessary.
I think the biggest issue most people have with the video in the link is that there is a group of dark skin black men with dreadlocks surrounding the child while they are holding him down and intimidating him. But would we be just as concerned if it was five white guys or five professional looking black men?
There is a lot of unchecked bias that I see in into the comments and commentary surrounding the video the mother placed on Facebook.
And that’s also a problem. Black parents need to stop putting everything on Facebook and social media. Somethings are not for the world to see. Somethings are better kept in the memories of the children for them to laugh about among friends in their future.
What do you think?