As the ongoing national debate continues over NFL superstar Adrian Peterson's role in spanking his 4-year-old son with a switch so hard that he broke the skin and left welts, many African-American journalists have been attempting to rationalize and, at times, defend Peterson's corporal punishment methods as part of ""Southern black culture." One of those journalists is CNN's Don Lemon who participated in a panel discussion on the topic Wednesday night with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
As Mediaite points out, Lemon appeared to justify these beatings by hearkening back to slavery days:
“For me as an African-American, the question is where did you learn that from? Is that learned from the slave master? Getting the switch? Being beaten?” Lemon asked at one point.
“How is that a rationale?” Cuomo shot back. “I keep hearing this. Well, maybe it was passed down from slave culture. Why would that be a rationale to continue a practice like this? Isn’t that the last thing you would want to continue?”
“Why not break that cycle?” Alisyn Camerota added.
Cuomo asked Lemon if he really believes he stayed out of trouble as a kid because someone “beat you ass.”
“You said some one beat my ass, someone didn’t beat my ass,” Lemon responded. “My mom spanked me. That is not a beating. There is a difference.”
The connection to slavery and "switch spankings" is not a concept exclusive to Lemon. In fact, a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune drew the connection earlier this week in a column analyzing the controversy surrounding the Minnesota Vikings running back:
The belief is that black people began whipping their children out of fear that the overseers and masters would whip them worse. If so, it's easy to empathize with parents who made that choice. But if those parents inflicted the same punishment that the slave master would have inflicted, how is that punishment a good thing? Is there a difference between a hateful beating and a loving one? Does the latter feel less painful than the former? Does the skin heal differently?
Were the slave masters wrong when they desired to whip young children? If they were, how could it have been right to do what those slave masters would have done?
A few months ago, a New Orleans man praised the punishment he got, and he told me that his parents hadn't beat him, then the New Orleans Police Department would have. We all know the New Orleans Police Department's lingering reputation of brutality. I told the man that I didn't want to treat my child the way the police might treat her. Let me be more forceful here: I refuse to treat my child the way the police might treat her. If I do to her what her those who don't love her would do to her, what benefit does she derive from my love?