If you are familiar with the old Friday night chiller theater or the Saturday afternoon movies, we were told that a vampire couldn’t enter your house unless you invited him or her in. Pretty good defense—just don’t let that bloodsucker in. As we got older and began adventuring through our neighborhoods, walked to and from school, or had the freedom to walk through the mall while parents shopped, we were warned not to talk to strangers. The message reinforced in our little minds back then was that there were dangers “out there” that would do us substantial harm if we weren’t careful.
Monsters! Both fictional and real were entities we became trained to avoid. At the movies we knew to shout to the victim on the screen not to go into the basement or up into the attic. At the playground, we warned our friends about the strange man offering candy or needing your help to find a “lost puppy”. Today it seems, is different. Like the terrified babysitter discovered in the film, When a Stranger Calls, the trouble is coming from inside the house.
Those with sensibilities are inundated with images of our children displaying behaviors which would be deemed adding to the delinquency of a minor back in the day. Unfortunately the cell phone, Instagram, Youtube, and other tools of social media are used, not to raise light to problems but to highlight this behavior with the hollow hopes of viral stardom. What’s worse, it is not strangers capturing these images and posting them, it is (used loosely) mothers, fathers, and other so-called responsible adults. The lives of our children are being preyed upon and not by creepy creeps in trench coats. The predators are right there in the kitchen.
What are adults thinking when they allow their underage daughters in a Christmas parade twerking to a song–with the lyrics blasting–“make that ass go”? What about the parade organizers? Or how about the organized music video featuring a grown man “coaching” girls of all ages shaking and twerking it down to his commands. This Hut-Hut video has the stench of disturbance with the thought that their parents had to have the taste of oh we gettin’ up out the ghetto fame dripping from their mouths. No stranger sneaking behind bushes enticing our most vulnerable to do something they know they shouldn’t. The invitation comes right at the front door with parents driving them to the shoot and cheering them on.
It’s not just our youngsters twerking and grinding on each other, we have a generation of young speaking and engaging with each other like wayward homies on the corner. With adults filming, cajoling, and laughing in the background, toddlers, just learning to talk swear and ignorantly using racial slurs. The ignorance of this is affixed on both fronts; the baby doesn’t know what he is saying and the adults do not know the impact their sick and immature frivolity will have on this child.
Not to be outdone, parents film and encourage their children to cuss out and fight other children with the hopes of making it to the big time–Worldstar. Dreams of 1 Million Youtube hits is waged upon by each and every hit, kick and punch. Even the gladiators of Rome were treated as gods before they battled each other. These children are treated as Niggers when they are forced to fight and become less than when over.
How can you stomach it? How can your heart not ache and break when these videos and stories come across your screens? Are there not tears being shed on their behalf? The late Whitney Houston sang, “I believe that children are the future. Teach them well and let them lead the way.” Is anybody listening? What is being taught and where is it leading? This ultra-violent, ultra-sexualized, and apparent obliviousness to common civility is fast becoming the norm. It is the way of the culture.
As a child, when things weren’t right in the neighborhood, there was Neighborhood Watch. When someone saw something dangerous they alerted the appropriate people. It was called out. This is what we need now more than ever. In this cyber-hood we live in we need a cyber-neighborhood watch. We need to call out those who push and promote the images that stymie our cultural future. We need to stand on our cyber-porches and say, “not on this block G!”
There is hope though. There are videos and posts of beautiful children doing phenomenal things; science, math, sports, the arts, public speaking and more. Yes, our children can repeat all the words to Drunk in Love but they can also recite from memory all of the elements from the Periodic Chart…if we expect them to. They can tell you what was happening all around the world in 1789…if we expect them to. They can play instruments. They can do all forms of dance (beyond twerking). They can aspire to lead a nation. They can do it all if we have that as the expectation.
In conclusion, bear witness to the possibilities. If your heart is to ache, let it because you are witnessing something powerful from your children. If you must shed a tear, shed it because that is the only way for joy to leave your body. Again, from the mouth of Whitney, “learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.” Just remember, the children cannot learn if we do not teach them.
Guy A. Sims is the author of the novel, Living Just A Little, and the crime novella, The Cold Hard Cases of Duke Denim. He is also the head writer of the Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline comic book series and the forthcoming Brotherman graphic novel, Revelation. BCEPressworks.com