TRAUMA AND REVOLUTION: The various lives of children!

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 24, 2020

Terrified, 7 years old:
Terrible things happen to children.

They drown in the Mediterranean, with their parents, trying to get to Europe. They see their parents killed by bombs as part of ill-conceived wars.

Some are raised by loving parents; others may be less lucky. In this country, who takes you home from the hospital after your birth? It's the ultimate luck of the draw.

In Monday's report,
we posted a young woman's account of the trauma she experienced during her childhood and youth. "By the time I was 16, I had already experienced a lifetime of trauma," he had written in 2015. Her account proceeded from there.

She was 22 when she wrote the essay in question. It had been published by the Hartford Courant, directed at the operation of a certain Connecticut state agency.

As she told it her essay, that young person's story of trauma didn't have a racial or ethnic component. A report which had a baldly racial component did appear in yesterday's New York Times.

The Times report takes us back to the summer of '75. Had we been advising the victimized children in question, we would have advised them to view their experienced through this lens:
The Heartbreaking Dumbness of Others
In this case, the others were a bunch of kids who had been told they were white. They'd also been told that they shouldn't like other kids who were black.

An utterly sad event ensued; it was captured on film or on tape. One year later, Bill Moyers broadcast a PBS program about it.

To watch a chunk of that deeply instructive tape, you can just click here. A longer chunk of videotape is provided within the Times report.

For our money, the faces of the "black" kids in question can teach you more than anything which appears in the Times report. We don't offer that as a criticism of the Times. We offer that as a remark on the power of human faces.

Those kids learned a very sad lesson that day concerning, among other things, the spectacular dumbness of others. It's a recurrent part of the lives of others, and not just in the former East Germany.

The kids who were offended against that day expressed themselves with great eloquence about what they had seen and heard. We especially recommend the eloquence of the girl who describes the parade they had stopped to watch as a "gathering." For a youngster of her age, she offered a nice choice of words.

Did trauma result from what happened that day? No such claim is made in the Times report, except at one point, in passing. Regarding what can be sen on the tape, we'd guess that some of the black kids had received a lot of "good home training" within their various homes.

By way of contrast, some of the spectacularly horrible white kids had plainly been poorly served. That doesn't mean that they're horrible today, but they certainly were back then.

We mention this because we recently read about a 7-year-old boy who was described as "terrified" and who said he wants to leave the United States. The essay in question appeared in Slate. The essay started like this:
MCDONALD (6/15/20): I was 14 when Rodney King was brutally beaten by Los Angeles Police Department officers. I had no thoughts of kids, or how a parent protects them. But in households around the country, Black parents were having “The Talk” with their children: an intense, high-stakes training on the realities of racism designed to inoculate them against disproportionate police targeting and brutality.

My oldest child is now 7. A few nights ago, I was the one giving The Talk. We discussed George Floyd’s death. Even with my high-level, simplistic explanation, he understood and was brought to tears. He thought at first that I was speaking of the past, and I could see the fear on his face when I explained that this wasn’t “back then.” He asked a lot of tough questions about hate and racism, and ended by telling me he wants to leave the United States. He was terrified.

Like my son, I am deeply afraid—and it’s based on a lifetime of experience...
In that passage, we read about a 7-year-old who is said to be "terrified"—possibly by what he's seen on TV, but most directly by what he's been told by his mother. When their conversation ends, he says he wants to leave the United States.

The parent in this conversation is a substantial person. She holds a bachelor's degree from Stanford, plus master's degrees from both Northwestern and Harvard.

She loves her children; she's a good decent person. But these are tumultuous, revolutionary times, and a person could wonder if she exercised good judgment in holding that conversation.

No one has perfect judgment. Beyond that, everyone's judgment may be affected at times as fraught as these—or in the wake of an event as astonishing as the videotaped killing of the late George Floyd.

No one has perfect judgment. When this mother spoke to her son, she says she "shared ways he could appear less threatening to cops and other people."

Do 7-year-olds need to learn how to be less threatening to cops? Do they need to be told such things to the point where they're terrified?

There's no ultimate answer to those questions, except for the familiar answer with which we're currently scripted, in which all parents of a certain type always know what's best and what's right.

Absent some future explanation, the videotape of George Floyd's death records an act of astonishing hostility and misconduct. For ourselves, we're still waiting to hear about Derek Chauvin's previous conduct on the Minneapolis police force—about the possibility that he should have been removed from the force long ago.

So far, we've seen no such reporting. Anthropologists have warned us that we shouldn't be completely surprised if it turns out that no one within the upper-end press corps actually seems to care about this question.

That said, the essay from Slate was one of several we've read in recent weeks involving reactions to that videotape. More specifically, these essays involve reactions which may bear the signs of something resembling trauma—trauma past, present or future.

Tomorrow, we'll look at two essays in the New York Times in which highly intelligent people seem to draw peculiar conclusions about the danger they may be in. On Friday, we'll return to the various lives of children, discussing a remarkable 19-year-old UVa student who was described by Theresa Vargas in this recent column in the Washington Post.

The kids who were assailed back in 1975 are substantial adults today. We hope the same is true of the absurdly horrible kids by whom they were assailed.

Those Gotham kids weren't terrified that day. They were variously offended, angry, amazed, deeply disappointed.

Next week, we'll start to review the highest-profile sources of current extreme reactions. We'll start with the testimony of Zyahna Bryant, the impressive college student featured by Vargas, who is quoted saying that she "truly lost hope in the systems that continue to fail Black and Brown people" when she was 12 years old.

Should 7-year-olds be terrified? Should 12-year-olds truly lose hope?

There's no "scientific" answer to those questions. But there are many things which can be said about the way the mainstream press has reported some major events. We refer to the major high-profile events which define the current consensus.

Tomorrow: Dangerous friends, he says

26 comments:

  1. "Do 7-year-olds need to learn how to be less threatening to cops?"

    Why, yes, dear Bob. Most certainly they do.

    They need to learn, like most of us did, that it helps being calm, polite, and do what cops instruct you to do.

    That's all, end of the lesson. And you know what, dear Bob - it works. It works all 100% of the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a pathetic suck-up to authority.
      When the going gets tough, the Right-wing hides under it's bed.

      Delete
    2. Mao is a fag, virgin keyboard bully full of loathing and insecurity.

      Delete
    3. They need to learn, like most of us did, that it helps being calm, polite, and do what cops instruct you to do.
      Your parents actually taught you that? I doubt it. I think that you're making shit up. It's not a good lesson at any rate.
      It works all 100% of the time.
      Clearly, not 100% of the time. Even someone with limited mental faculties should realize that.

      Delete
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  2. Nothing so far today about:

    “White People Don’t Respond to Our Pain; They Respond to Theirs”
    What it’s really like to be a Black journalist in America."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, noted. He's promised to tackle a few topics lately, and while it's true, as you've said, that he'll sometimes drop a hot potato, I'm hoping he gets back to this one re Black journalists. Maybe later today? If not, you win the bet.

      Delete
    2. Somerby is kind of predictable.

      Delete
  3. I joined a squadron.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Should 7-year-olds be terrified? Should 12-year-olds truly lose hope?

    There's no "scientific" answer to those questions. But there are many things which can be said about the way the mainstream press has reported some major events."

    The way Somerby juxtaposes the reporting by the mainstream press with the hopes and fears of children almost sounds like Somerby expects the press to reassure 7 year old children about their world.

    It is an unusual 7 year old who reads the NY Times or even Slate. Nor is it the job of the media to play therapist to adults, much less children. If it were, every story would be a reassuring one about the continued existence of Santa Claus. I could understand it if Somerby were appealing to people to be nicer to each other, or asking parents to notice their children's emotions, but Somerby is talking about the press here -- what does he think their role should be?

    ReplyDelete
  5. None of the kids shown in the video Somerby links to is 7 years old. The youngest appears around 10 and nearly all are teens. That makes a big difference. Notice also that Somerby links to a video about Rosedale and not Rosewood. That makes a big difference too.

    Somerby doesn't know how to apply the word "trauma" to life circumstances. He confuses distressing childhood events with those deeply upsetting occurrences that overwhelm our coping skills.

    Somerby says it is a matter of luck what environment a child is born into. It is also a matter of luck what biological resources the child is endowed with, which determines the child's response to that environment. Some kids are born fragile and demand a lot of help from parents to cope with the gentlest of life events.

    Some distress is important in children because it allows children to develop coping mechanisms. It isn't the job of parents to shield children from all distress. Nor can parents do the coping for their children. Some theorists believe that the function of myths such as Santa Claus is to help children learn to deal with the disillusionment that comes inevitably with adult understandings. Problems occur when children do not have adult emotional support and are faced with circumstances beyond their coping ability. But each child has different ability to cope, so in childhood it is a dance between what life throws at us and what we are able to deal with, just as it is in adulthood. In both stages of life, having others for social and emotional support is important and helps us to cope.

    Somerby is working around to some point. Perhaps later this week he will tell us what it is, perhaps not. With him, it is always about blame, even when he tells us that those white kids in Rosewood are good and decent, but were told bad things. Most of us were told similar bad things but we didn't behave that way. What makes the difference? It would be useful for Somerby to explore that, but he will probably deplore all of humanity instead of digging deeper.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Somerby, by his own account, has never been a parent. He has no standing to lecture parents about what to tell or not tell their own kids.

    ReplyDelete
  7. “There's no ultimate answer to those questions, except for the familiar answer with which we're currently scripted, in which all parents of a certain type always know what's best and what's right.”

    For “certain type”, read “black”, one supposes.

    Somerby seems to dislike the idea of racial differences being taught and furthered and exacerbated, that that just leads to more division and strife.

    The problem with this is that you can’t draw a true parallel between white parents teaching their children to hate an entire race of people a la Rosedale, and black parents having “the talk” with their kids about how to interact with the police, because those black kids are far more likely to be pulled over or aggressively questioned than white kids are.

    The black parents, like McDonald, are not teaching their kids to hate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "white parents teaching their children to hate" ... "The black parents, like McDonald, are not teaching their kids to hate."

      I guess dear Bob was right about the trauma thing.

      Assuming this here is a genuine sentiment, your self-loathing is destroying you people.

      Poor bastards. As Man Friday said in that old movie: consumed by thoughts of power, guilt, and fear.

      Delete
    2. Is it better to teach a child that some people are bigots than to let him believe that he is unlikeable?

      According to Seligman's Learned Optimism theory, a causal attribution involving racism preserves ego by externalizing the cause (removing the fault from the child and placing it on others). It would be better if people learned that white others are not always racist, because specific and unstable (occasional and changing) attributions are more ego protective and permit striving and higher expectations (more hope) compared to global and stable ones.

      So, according to Seligman, it is best to teach a child that some people are racist and react badly toward you for no good reason, but not all people are and not in all situations. If you say nothing, a child is likely to internalize the cause of negative reactions, may blame himself and may come to expect negative treatment in all situations for all people, which will kill hope and prevent striving. That the depressive place to be, according to his theory, and not where any parent would want a child to wind up. So, yes, it is good to talk about this stuff with a child, and yes, white people should be blamed for their racism.

      Delete
    3. The black parents, like McDonald, are not teaching their kids to hate.
      Somerby wasn't suggesting that McDonald was teaching to hate. He was pondering whether it's worthwhile to traumatize to 7yo child.

      Delete
  8. According to scholarly studies, blacks are not killed at a higher rate than whites. If this is true, is the whole ptotest movement based on a lie? We should at least discuss this, rather than anecdotes. Hoping Bob gets to this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If black and white people were killed at the same rate by police, would that negate the existence of all discrimination against black people and would it demonstrate equal treatment under the law? If not, and there is still a need for improvement, why is this so important to you? And is it really a lie to say that black lives matter? Or do you want to debate that too?

      I don't think it is "scholarly studies" that show this. Can you quote some sources please? My understanding is that blacks are killed at a rate higher than their percentage in the population and are only killed at the same "rate" because they are stopped by police at a higher rate than white people. In other words, you get this result by making a comparison between stops (encounters with police) and deaths, not % of population and deaths. One of the complaints about policing is that blacks are stopped too often. Such a stat does not deal with the qualitatively different treatment by police, the greater likelihood of being arrested, greater use of force. That doesn't show up because only deaths are included in the Washington Post archive.

      Delete
    2. AnonymousekateerJune 24, 2020 at 7:55 PM

      "According to scholarly studies ...."

      You must be referring to the one by Prof. Otto Yerass.

      If you can read, here's an actual scholarly study that refutes Prof. Yerass's conclusion:

      https://thesocietypages.org/toolbox/police-killing-of-blacks/

      Derp

      Delete
    3. Here's 2 more:

      https://www.peoplespolicyproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/PoliceKillings.pdf

      https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2020/06/65309/

      Delete
    4. Hope you get that killings at the hands of the police, which, indeed, are not common, are a tiny tip of iceberg. The abuse, of which Chavin had been accused on 17 occasions, is prevalent. It is almost certain that there were several hundred cases where Chavin had been brutal, but they had not generated a complaint.

      Delete
    5. " ... a tiny tip of the iceberg."

      Here's the iceberg:

      https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-statistics-dont-capture-the-full-extent-of-the-systemic-bias-in-policing/

      Delete
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    ReplyDelete
  11. A GREAT SPELL CASTER (DR. EMU) THAT HELP ME BRING BACK MY EX GIRLFRIEND.
    Am so happy to testify about a great spell caster that helped me when all hope was lost for me to unite with my ex-girlfriend that I love so much. I had a girlfriend that love me so much but something terrible happen to our relationship one afternoon when her friend that was always trying to get to me was trying to force me to make love to her just because she was been jealous of her friend that i was dating and on the scene my girlfriend just walk in and she thought we had something special doing together, i tried to explain things to her that her friend always do this whenever she is not with me and i always refuse her but i never told her because i did not want the both of them to be enemies to each other but she never believed me. She broke up with me and I tried times without numbers to make her believe me but she never believed me until one day i heard about the DR. EMU and I emailed him and he replied to me so kindly and helped me get back my lovely relationship that was already gone for two months.
    Email him at: Emutemple@gmail.com
    Website: http://emutemple.website2.me/
    Call or Whats-app him: +2347012841542

    ReplyDelete