Monday, January 13, 2014

Why Do Americans Hate Welfare? There is No Shame. The Mother of the "Ghetto Thug Baby" Featured on CNN Defends Her Parenting Skills on the Evening News

When a child misbehaves the parents should be held accountable for not instilling proper values and home training in their offspring. But, what if the child's parents are themselves children? Moreover, what if the parent's parent was also a child when they birthed him or her?

Part of that answer is seen in the interview with the 16-year-old parent of the "ghetto thug baby" whose cussing, picaninny routine--which I discussed here--was shared on national television by CNN last week.

Once more I yearn for a return to shame as a social force with power and meaning in American life.

If my street pirate in training child was featured on a national news program, and subsequently viewed by millions of people online, I would go hide under a rock because the shame would be both oppressive and omnipresent. But if one does not know any better, how can we expect the ghetto thug baby's mama to do any better?

The performance of black ghetto hooliganism and thuggery for mass consumption is a genre of entertainment in the United States. It is a spectacle that drives Internet memes and also makes hundreds of millions (if not billions of dollars) for large global corporations. I have no interest in contributing to the pleasures brought to some people, across the colorline, by mocking a human zoo (one which is typified by the poor decision-making skills and social disorganization common to the American "ghetto underclass").

The white supremacist website Worldstar Hip Hop has enough copycats and supporters. They do not need my help. Simultaneously, the politics of black respectability to which I am committed demand that I not compromise my commitment to truth-telling and efforts to locate such episodes of ghetto underclass spectacle within a larger social and political context. Yes, I walk a fine line. I may falter; I may fall in a less than graceful pose; I will still keep trying.

The spectacle of the ghetto thug baby, and now his mother's efforts to vindicate herself, is important because of the human tragedy it represents. 

Some may call my use of the phrase "human tragedy" hyperbolic and exaggerated. I disagree. Based on the violence, criminal behavior, and poor decision-making of the "adults" in his life, I worry that the long-term social outcomes and life chances for the "ghetto thug baby" are slim and poor. We the people will be left to sort out the mess.

The ghetto thug baby's culture is no help to him overcoming the limited life chances that being black and poor bring in America.

Culture is all of those things that a given person takes for granted about social norms. Culture is "natural"; culture is rarely thought about except in those moments when it is transgressed.

Her culture taught the mother of the ghetto thug baby that good parenting consists of giving a child clean diapers and a clean house. What ought to be a bare minimum standard of care becomes something to be praised as exemplary. She is unable to understand how the race minstrel picanniny show that was her "precocious" child's video debut is shameful. Her local (sub)culture does not allow for such reasoning. These are the same cultural rules which justify stealing from someone because they left their purse or wallet out on the table unprotected. The phrase "they were asking to get robbed" is made into the moral justification for theft.

We must be precise. The same logic is common to the plutocrats and robber barons too, the "wolves of Wall Street" and Mitt Romneys of the world operate from the same playbook as they eviscerate whole communities and rob them of wealth and resources. Their explanation? If "those people" were smart enough it wouldn't have happened to them. It is after all a dog eat dog world. The ghetto street pirate and the robber baron plutocrat are both thugs. The difference? One is valorized. The other is put in jail.

The video of the ghetto thug baby, and now his mother's defense of her failed parenting, fulfill the white racist fantasies of degenerate blackness. The image of the ghetto thug baby and his mother are also central to the Republican Party's "Southern Strategy" and its accompanying belief in the Age of Obama that poor people of color are "useless eaters".

Paraphrasing from the book of the same title, Americans hate welfare for a reason.

Images of fecund black women with badly behaving children who embody, quite literally, "bad culture", and are then "saved" multiple times by the state, i.e. the taxpayer, are a cultural script that has done ugly and pernicious political work in the United States for decades. Despite its bold title, the United States did not fight a real, long-term, and effective "War on Poverty". Yes, there were opening feints and skirmishes. But, the war was ultimately sabotaged and undone by the politics of white racial resentment.

At present, Republicans like Paul Ryan and other agents of neoliberalism and Austerity are dishonestly rewriting the history of the United States' anti-poverty programs in order to advance a twisted logic and set of policies that will actually make poverty, as well as wealth and income inequality, worse.

I worry that the images of the ghetto thug baby and his clueless mother are ready made images for a campaign to further destroy the social safety net. By not self-policing, the black and brown poor hurt themselves. Realpolitik does not obey slogans and platitudes such as "don't blame the victim". The real world is far more cruel and unfair.

Is it possible to (re)instill the politics of black respectability into those individuals who were not taught its lessons at an early age? And by doing so, to at least minimize the self-inflicted harm that folks such as the ghetto thug baby's mother (and her enablers) cause themselves?


KissedByTheSun said...

Unfortunately these are people who have swallowed white supremacist propaganda masquerading as "black culture" hook, line, and sinker. People who frequent places like WSHH thinking they're getting "the real". The path to respectability lies in rejecting these tired tropes and stereotypes in entertainment as being authentically black. But, it's a path we all must take because when the poor brother sees the intelligent well to do brother listening to Lil Wayne, he loses a sense of how destructive imbibing that stuff can be.
It's why I don't teach my children that smoking is for adults only, I teach them that smoking is bad for you no matter what age you are. I don't want them thinking that certain things are bad until you reach a particular station in life and then you can have at it. When the ghetto sees otherwise intelligent brothers and sisters rubbing shoulders with black puppets of white supremacy, it legitimates the minstrelsy.
It's why I don't listen to rap anymore, or watch "hood movies", or anything with the name Tyler Perry on it. It's why I don't romanticize old school rap anymore in comparison to todays artist, as though lyrics like "b****** aint s*** but hoes and tricks" were a god send. As if Biggie saying "money, hoes, and clothes, all a nigger knows" somehow elevated the discourse amongst the ghetto underclass. I'm not putting my hand to the white supremacist plow anymore. For myself because I refuse to give money to someone that ask me to call myself a nigger, or my wife and daughters hoes. But, also for my brother, because he thinks I'm intelligent, he looks up to me, and if I drink from a polluted well he will too thinking that it must not be so bad.

D.L. said...

Your Jehovah's 7th Day actually managed to channel C. Delores Tucker and make a little sense, instead of channeling the usual victimization trope.

The race studies enterprise should be indicted first of all for systematically destroying operative shame, for dismantling discipline, and for promoting victimization rather than high cultural standards.

So called black public intellectuals have done yoeman's work, equaling and exceeding anything done by so-called white supremacists to bring about the toxic degeneration of a once thriving culture of shame.

One need only consult the WARN archives to access a goldmine of directly culpable hogwash.

The most effective public intellectual heretodate on this topic has been D.L. Hughley. 50 something, a father, with a skilled trade and the freedom to speak the truth, D.L., called out one of the idiotic ghetto troglodytes that had the temerity to try and justify the pre-jail antics of these lives devoid of value.

Bryan Ortez said...

After watching her interview I think she is ashamed of the representation of her life and her child, but I think she doesn't hide from it because she wishes to clarify her life in a lot of ways.

It is true a lot of families try to get young kids to cuss, they think it's cute and they (my parents told me at least) that the kid won't remember being encouraged in that way.

She clarifies who actually made the video, why her kid was choosing to repeat the adults around him, and why she and her child were taken into protective custody. I strongly feel that often people close to gangs and gang culture don't have influence over those that choose to participate in that lifestyle. It could be her brother and his friends involved, living with them made her family a target.

Black and white Americans have a lot more in common than many people will actually admit to. I think the 1% and our war culture has a lot in common with gang culture and lifestyles. For example; drone attacks that kill wedding parties and children by mistake when aiming for our enemy and drive-by shootings that kill or injure family members of their respective targets.

Western culture is hyper individualistic, competitive and violent. White people feel no sense of collective shame over members in our community that commit shameful actions, which is striking to the way I have seen some black people react to this video ("we need to get our shit together").

The Hegelian view of society is individualistic. Men married women, begot families and competed with other men for social opportunities. The successful individual is a reflection of the nation. The gang becomes the family, competition within the hierarchy and with other gangs and police is a reflection of their status as a group or a 'nation' and the fulfillment of a monolithic masculine or feminine.

Collective responsibility is Marxist in nature. Marxism is shunned in Western society and thus collective responsibility is shunned along with it.

As per your question, "Is it possible to (re)instill the politics of black respectability into those individuals who were not taught its lessons at an early age?" :

Read A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, a child soldier in the Sierra Leone Civil War. He was found by an amnesty group and psychologically rehabilitated. After his rehabilitation, getting into a safe and healthy family was the most important path to not succumbing into the guerrilla lifestyle that many of his fellow patients (for lack of a better term) fell back into.

Bryan Ortez said...

race studies actually do take a critical look at the perpetuation of stereotypical behavior in both white and black controlled media.

D.L. said...

The race studies enterprise should be indicted first of all for
systematically destroying operative shame, for dismantling discipline,
and for promoting victimization rather than high cultural standards.

Pay attention sycophant. I didn't write that race studies doesn't pretend that idiot stereotypes aren't the core grist of mass media. That was never in question.

What I asserted was that the race studies crowd made it politically incorrect and practically difficult and awkward to shame and otherwise discipline troglodytes.

Here's a perfect example taken from a recent article by a product of the culpable black public intellectual period - criticizing shaming: Conservatives often stress marriage as a panacea for many of these problems, and indeed, marriage has its benefits. The fewer partners one engages sexually, the lower the risk of encountering disease. And, in terms of having a child, two adults in a home can often do twice as much as one. But, we must respect all family structures and encourage all parents to be active and engaged in child rearing regardless of living

Furthermore, much of the discussion about single-parent families and births outside of marriage is focused too heavily on young women and is simply a form of sex shaming that blames them for not being proper guardians of
chastity. The shaming itself is a shame, and often inflames the
pathology of patriarchy in our culture.

edwardchamberlain said...

I like Farrakhan's take better; on these topics. He keeps it real. You and Barry sell out. One.

lioness said...

Respectability calls for restraint. Restraint is not lauded in our current society. When we have reality shows, dramas, and sitcoms that praise people for what they don't do, we'll be halfway there.

Bryan Ortez said...

chill out there D. L.
name calling isn't necessary and won't lead anywhere. That's just one reason I don't get along with conservatives, they are typically too focused on being judgmental of anyone that does tow their line.

What does public shaming accomplish?

Shaming a teen mother doesn't prevent her from having already become pregnant. Even wealthy white teens wind up pregnant with child before marriage and graduating high school.

What do they have that this young woman doesn't?

They have a successful wealthy family there to back them up if they need it and they aren't ostracized by the shame experienced by their own family.
Bristol Palin didn't succumb to the poverty experienced by many unwed teenage mothers. She made it out due to her high profile family status and I doubt her parents would have rejected her.

The children of the poor are an inconvenience, not just to their parents, but to the rest of society who holds them up only as an example of our collective shame. How very Puritan.

KissedByTheSun said...

What I don't understand is what qualifies as shaming these behaviors? I grew up in THE hood and I never remember silence, or consent being the norm in the face of these kinds of behaviors. Whether from family members, or the pulpit, or even strangers on the street, it seemed like somebody was always calling out wrong when they saw it. But, this is done outside of the scope of the white gaze so to them unless a certain quota of black actors, musicians, politicians, and scholars publicly bemoan this stuff, then black people aren't doing it at all. So CDV has to shame it, Obama has to shame it, Will Smith has to shame it, Oprah has to shame it, and whoever else black celeb until the quota is reached, then black people must be filmed nodding in approval to these public rebukes to satisfy the white gaze.

D.L. said...

That's just one reason I don't get along with conservatives, they are
typically too focused on being judgmental of anyone that does tow their


You're not paying taxes.

You don't have kids.

You don't have any skin in the game - yet you pretend you're respectable and due a measure of respect far beyond anything you're even remotely entitled to!

The children of the shameless, ignorant, oppositional defiant poor - whom you work so assiduously to facilitate - are an unjustifiable and unfunded burden on the rest of society - and they ought to be cut off and left to their own devices outside the bounds of decent, hardworking, responsible and self-sufficient society.

A little shame is an exceedingly small price to pay for defying traditional family standards and acting like an animal.

KissedByTheSun said...

So let me get this straight. Respect is only reserved for employed, tax paying people with children?

Bryan, cast not your pears before swine my friend. Leave this one be.

D.L. said...

The issue is child-rearing and the standards appropriate thereto. The issue is why do Americans hate welfare.

Right off the top, unless you know what you're talking about, and unless you pay into the coffer from whence the welfare checks proceed, your opinion is of approximately the same value as your asshole.

We know you have one, but keep it clean, keep it covered, and keep it to yourself.

Thirtysomething single men who don't contribute a red cent to the welfare of society don't have anything constructive to offer on this topic, much as 60 something conservative men need to keep their noses out of women's gynecological prerogatives.

Bryan Ortez said...

I did have a job, working through my pain as much as I could until that burden became too much, after my son was born. I have paid my taxes since I was sixteen years old.

When I applied for disability, I was denied, despite having just barely paid into that for ten years to receive that 'entitlement.'

My wife works, she pays her taxes for our family.

Pretend to be respectable? pssh get off of that.

" they ought to be cut off and left to their own devices"

and where do they go from there? you don't have to think about them if you don't want to. Unless you're in the 1% I doubt much of your taxes are really going to that so called 'shared burden.'

D.L. said...

They die....,

2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat."

Bryan Ortez said...

I always figured that kind of discussion goes on in private places or within communities. It's very difficult to get through to some people though, they have to get it themselves.

I have family that went that route, followed by periodic unemployment and alcohol or drug abuse (pretty minor though compared to some) the man in the relationship is doing better, the woman, not so much. They also refused to go on welfare, which the least they could have done was get some health benefits for their two children.

I would like to share more about that, but I don't want to get into too many personal details.

Bryan Ortez said...

Good luck pursuing your theologically based eugenics program. I'm sure the repubs are glad to have you.

D.L. said...

Because I work, pay my way and my fair share, support and raise my kids in a manner consistent with traditional values - and because I don't favor supporting and enabling those who have chosen differently for themselves and who must now accept the consequences of their choices - does not make me a eugenicist.

You're a liar and a hypocrite who has deluded himself into believing his own abrogation of responsibility can somehow be supplanted by making pseudo-virtuous comments online.

Nah B.O. - that dog don't hunt. Get up off your ass and support your family like a man - or else you'll wake up one day and find out that your wife figured out some time ago that she can do bad all by herself.

chauncey devega said...

You know how I feel about the Scold in Chief. But yes, having a half naked baby cussing and letting there be someone in your home recording it and then going on TV and trying to "defend" yourself should be shamed. Of course, there is lots of critical talk in our community about this mess. There is also a cohort that excuse-makes for it too. We have to be real and honest about that too.

chauncey devega said...

Those works by child soldiers are powerful. Truly. You got that right Black and White Americans are twins tied together at the hip. There is no one more "American" than black people. But our Americanness is contingent and used as a way of writing us out of our rightful claims on citizenship and a means for all other groups to elevate themselves against.

chauncey devega said...

Just so readers know why the thread is "broken" that was one of our resident trolls who had to be expunged.

chauncey devega said...

White teenagers and women who get pregnant out of wedlock are either made noble or get reality tv shows. Black and brown women who do it fulfill a trope of welfare queens and lazy irresponsible communities. Hell of a double standard huh?

chauncey devega said...

Don't engage him. He is a persistent troll at this point who finds amusement in trying to use different names to post. Odd really. I do not know why an adult would continue to post somewhere that he has been politely told to move on from.

OldPolarBear said...

I don't watch that much TV anymore; we got rid of the extended cable package because there was so much awful junk it wasn't worth it. But I just remembered, while we still had whatever channel it was on, I caught part of an episode of Bristol Palin's "reality" show with her kid (Tripp? Trent? I don't remember). It was pretty much the same thing as the thug baby video. She and a female friend of the same age were in the apartment living room with the little boy. She was supposedly trying to get him to do something, take a nap or pick up toys, etc., I don't remember exactly, and he was acting out. Stomping around, throwing things, and there were swear words being bleeped out. Mom and her friend both appeared clueless as to how to handle it effectively, and in fact were laughing part of the time. But of course it was being presented as "cute" and "boy" like and I'll bet that Bristol's teaparty audience ate it up. Consider that this kid had cameras in the home recording these antics for hours a day, and the show ran for weeks or months or maybe is still on. He is likely to grow up being the same kind of entitled jerk as baby-daddy Levi Johnson, and nobody will think there is anything wrong with it. Which, BTW, there is a strong probability that Bristol Palin's pregnancy was the result of rape by Johnson.

chauncey devega said...

We are judged by the least of us. What to do?

DanF said...

Sadly, it's not really broken at all. It's pretty easy to infer from the response exactly what right-wing trope was thrown against the wall. Shadow facing East, sun must be in the West...

The Sanity Inspector said...

"No account" people have always been present. They just haven't always been instantly, ubiquitously famous. The damage such videos do can't easily be undone by counter-example, as the best manners, classiness, respectability, etc. rarely call attention to themselves. There's plenty of black respectability in the country, I'm sure. Persuading people to strive for it is what's tricky about our era, with out of wedlock black parenthood the norm, and little but crudities on display from so many of our most successful public figures..

KissedByTheSun said...

I'm noticing that Bryan Ortez's comments now say "guest". I hope his exchange with the troll didn't chase him away from here. I looked forward to his insightful commentary.

chauncey devega said...

""No account" people have always been present. They just haven't always been instantly, ubiquitously famous.'

I agree on that. Out of wedlock births are increasingly becoming the norm period.

chauncey devega said...

I hear you. There is tons of dysfunction in that home. She is 6 w. kid who is 2 years old. The house has been shot up multiple times by gang members who allows around her child. What is most disturbing is that she seems unable to understand that having a kid in clean diapers and a clean house is not the extent of what good parenting entails. I wonder about her mother and the lessons she taught this young woman.

gettinpersonal said...

i'm going to change my profile name.

Learning Is Eternal said...

I can't believe you called WSHH a (ha)white supremacist website.

There is too much TRUTH being distributed at this here site which makes for a boring read & even worse television.

I shall take my naïveté slash ignorance elsewhere, where people tell you what you wan' hear & see.

would it matter? said...

lol "then black people must be filmed nodding in approval to these public rebukes to satisfy the white gaze."

it still wouldn't matter. Then black people would still have to answer for the actions of the criminal and lower class black people in America.

I witnessed a black man who is a conservative who routinely denounces fellow blacks for their inability to get their shit together get told by a fellow white conservative, "So, please, tell me what you can do about this problem within black communities."

I wanted to slap him in the face and yell, "He's not responsible for other people's behavior! why don't you understand that!" But I just laughed and shook my head.

Black people would basically have to stop being criminals and poor for decades for this trope to stop. Even then, the white gaze would still be paranoid about black people.

galleymac said...

I have to add that I wonder about her *father*, not to mention the father of her child who seems to have been engaging in statutory.

Keith Talone said...

95% of " Black People are useless good for nothing but crime and having babbys who they can't pay for and follow in there foot steps. Blacks are given more options chances help then any other race per population in this country. And they still can't get there act together. They like living like animals because they do nothing to fix situation. They want the White Man to pay and fix all there problems. ( but they all so want to hate us too) but you need to do for your self. No more free lunch. You do t work you should not eat. As long as we have black we will have this problem.