Black Children Should Not Be Used as Political Pawns

Black Children Should Not Be Used as Political Pawns

Black Children Should Not Be Used as Political Pawns

Black children in poor urban neighborhoods often grow up seeing things that no child should see. They live without feeling that warm security kids should have, not only in public but at home, too.

But a California pediatrician wants to lay the blame at the feet of police.

In an opinion piece for NBC News, Dr. Rhea Boyd cited multiple cases where police shot black adults while children witnessed the event, most recently that of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI. Describing Blake as a “29-year-old Black father” who was merely “attempting to enter his vehicle,” she writes how his three small children witnessed police shooting Blake.

“And our kids are watching,” she moralizes:

“Police kill about 1,000 people per year in cars, homes and neighborhoods across the United States. According to The Washington Post, 999 were shot and killed in 2019. And our kids are watching.”

Plus, according to Boyd, police traumatize black children through their presence, too:

“Police surveil neighborhoods and accost people in public and in private. And our kids are watching.”

Boyd tells the reader that black children thus lack security — or “sanctuary” — not only in their neighborhoods, but in public, at school, and even in their homes. The effects are enormous:

“And when children witness violence, in person and virtually, it results in poor self-reported physical health, mental health conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, and impaired school performance.”

Well, yeah, of course. And this goes beyond the overwrought argument about whether or not kids who play shoot‘em up video games turn to violence. Children who grow up witnessing first-hand violence — whether by gun, knife, or fist — are at high risk for emotional impairment, similar to kids who live in abusive homes. Some are emotionally resilient enough to survive such trauma, but others aren’t.

So what is Dr. Boyd’s solution? We must protect black children from police, either through reform or abolishing police forces.

“Calls to reform or abolish the police must be understood within this broader context — because the people directly and indirectly impacted by the harms of policing are not only the men and women we have painfully witnessed suffer in video after video, but also our children and teens.”

Of course she does. Boyd is an activist who focuses upon racism leading to health care inequities. She teaches academic programs on structural inequality and health. And she recently wrote an article for Cosmopolitan in which she stated, “Protests save lives even during a pandemic. I’m a doctor, so you can quote me on that.” Certainly Dr. Rhea Boyd has a political axe to grind.

black children

Credit: Geoff Livingston/flickr/CC BY NC-ND 2.0.

But since Boyd criticized police shooting Jacob Blake in front of his children, I wonder how she would’ve handled the situation. Maybe call in for a back-up counselor? Or perhaps a social worker from Child Protective Services: “Just a minute, Mr. Blake. I need to remove your children from their car seats before you steal this car.”

The truth is this: one of the reasons that police shot Jacob Blake was to protect those black children in the back seat of the car. The SUV didn’t belong to him — it belonged to his off-again, on-again girlfriend whom he had previously assaulted. When police were unable to physically restrain or Tase him, they had no other choice than to shoot before he sped off in a stolen SUV with children in the back. If police hadn’t stopped Blake, what could’ve happened to those kids? Would he hold them hostage? Or abandon them after ditching the SUV? Or worst of all — killed them as revenge? Yes, those children witnessed the horrendous sight of police shooting their father. But they’re alive, thanks to those police.

Or what about the black children caught up in the latest mass shooting in Chicago? On Sunday, gunmen opened fire on patrons dining in an outdoor tent at a pancake house. This pancake house is like those across America: full of families enjoying brunch after church, which is precisely when the shooting occurred. A car pulled up and three gunmen fired at a table with three women, two men, and a baby.

Yes, a three-week old baby was in mortal danger, according to the news report. And this child wasn’t the only one; as one woman who was dining with family members said:

“Her grandbaby is sitting with her there, 2 months old. And y’all shoot when you see a 2-month-old baby? That’s outrageous. You kind of get used to it, you see it every day on the news. These babies, they don’t care.”

The Rev. Donovan Price told told reporters:

“This place is a staple. Sunday afternoon, Sunday morning brunch is a staple. Our staples are being taken away and our traditions are being taken away.”

“And slowly, but surely, our hope is being taken away,”

Black children in urban neighborhoods are certainly at risk for trauma, and that risk seems to be growing out of control since the George Floyd incident. But the biggest threat doesn’t come from the police — it comes from the gangs and criminals who dominate cities like Chicago. No child should have to witness a police shooting. But no child should live under the greater threats of gang-driven crime and violence, either.


Featured image: Wikimedia Commons/cropped/public domain.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

  • Scott says:

    Kim, you mention gangs and criminals as the biggest threat to these kids, but I would suggest that it’s even more basic than that, the lack of two parent families, specifically absentee fathers, or in the cases where there is a father in the home, the fact that one or both parents are engaged in criminal activities, and teach these children to fear / ignore/ attack the police. The fact that the majority of minority children come from these types of homes is the real national tragedy. And it’s one that has not only been aided and abetted, but encouraged by the democrat party for decades, since at least LBJ.

    OOh, and i think you misspelled Boyd’s first name. I think the proper spelling is Diarrhea…

    • GWB says:

      A lack of civic duty, Scott. The breakdown of the family is part of it, but also engendering a belief that they, themselves, can’t make a difference and need a savior politician to come along and make it better. I think it goes hand-in-hand with the family breakdown. (I also think building a good family is part of civic duty.)

      It engenders a general feeling of hopelessness and that need for someone (an elite, usually – one of the “better” class) to save them.

  • GWB says:

    They live without feeling that warm security kids should have, not only in public but at home, too.
    I immediately thought of how I had the ability to roam as a kid – heading to the woods with friends, biking a couple of miles to a friend’s house, and so on. If you can’t cross the street without encountering gangs and street addicts and such, then yeah, you never have the security to experience the freedom. 🙁

    who was merely “attempting to enter his vehicle,”
    Wow, that is a lie.

    the harms of policing
    Another out-and-out lie. There are no harms of policing. There are harms in abusive policing, and harms in abusive laws. But policing itself is not harmful.
    And THAT is one of the pernicious bits to this – the rhetoric of “the police” or “black people” or any other broad brush, that attempts to turn one or more bad incidents into an indictment of everyone or every law. It’s the exact same thing as racism (remember when we used to use the word ‘prejudice’?) and just as awful when making arguments for policy.

    I’m a doctor, so you can quote me on that.
    And you’re one of the people who give actual ‘experts’ a bad name. You can quote me on that.

    The SUV didn’t belong to him
    I’ve been wondering: Did the kids belong to him?

    And slowly, but surely, our hope is being taken away
    Yes. But not by “white supremacists”. It’s being taken away by the criminals in your neighborhoods and the politicians running your neighborhood. Take back your power and authority – vote those miscreants out and vote in some people who will help you turn your neighborhood back into something with hope. You might want to vote for someone who actually believes in the “unalienable rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (and property). Elect someone who will fight for fewer regulations, fewer arcane laws, enforcing the laws that you need, and believes in his equality with you under the law.

  • Tim says:

    The children of LaBron James and Snoop Dog seem to be doing well.

    • Scott Smith says:

      LeBron is a mouth breathing, racist communist shill… At least Snoop is just a pothead rapper, he doesn’t pretend to be anything he’s not…

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