I’m a decent person, but I do not believe that children are always more important than adults! I consider this to be a stupid, cruel, and dangerous idea that is promoted only in a lazy society trying to make itself seem more decent and stable than it really is.
I cringe when I hear the words “what’s best for our children” or “I’m doing this for the child.” This usually means that some effort is being made to take away adult rights, up adult prison sentences, attack some individual adult, or avoid addressing complex issues like adults! Protecting children has, historically, been the most effective excuse for singling out specific races, ethnic groups, or classes for everything from religious conversion to forced transracial adoption and sterilization.
I’m not heartless. I feel for Tanisha Montague’s baby girl (“Motherless Child,” 10/6). I also believe that kids deserve some special protection, because of their innate vulnerability. But aren’t some adults (mentally or physically) just as vulnerable? I believe that child molesters should be castrated. But more than your standard (adult) rapist? My heart says yes; my mind says no. A black, Latin, or poor white woman in the parts of America (and the Caribbean) where Cops is filmed is far more weak and vulnerable than a white, middle-class kid from a decent family and a safe suburb. So why are these children offered more protection and consideration than those adults?
Folks who believe that some children should be tried, sentenced, and even executedas adultssay that, under certain circumstances, a kid can have the mind, strength, or evil motivations of an adult. Question: Can the same be said for adults? Under certain circumstances, can an adult (of normal intelligence) display the mind, frightened motivation, and emotional intelligence of a child? Can this be seriously considered in court? Or can we never be children again (with all of childhood’s privileges and supports) even if we were denied our first childhoodslike Montague?
Montague is like many minority girls who grew up with angry, domineering, detached, or stressed-out mothers and absent, apathetic fathers. Her experiences with sexually predatory males and pedophilia in Jamaica were frighteningly similar to what occurs in lower-income black communities in D.C. and around the country. Not being white, middle-class, or an “at-risk” black male means you are given little thought, analysis, support, or defense when you are victimized or become a victimizer. Black males have milked every ounce of sympathy from the public and the black community. Black females will be perfect vents for everyone who is frustrated with the courts going too easy on offenders who use “victim” excuses. These frustrated folks will fail to see howunlike black males, who have a long and international pattern of violent and destructive behaviorblack females have only recently shown a sharp increase in incidents of violence,
criminality, andin this casechild neglect/abandonment.
Black females have a long history of stability and selfless “mothering” that became a stereotype used against us. We are not, and have never been, perfect! Abuse always occurred, but there was always a much larger group of stable black mother figures to fill in. How quickly this country forgets that black girls’ dumping babies into trash cans is out of character! It certainly warrants not get-tough action, but serious analysis and programson a case-by-case basis!
I hope Montague does not spend more than two years in low-security prison for her crime. I also hope that she does not get her baby back. It’s not her crime that I fear, but her so-called family (that failed her) raising her baby! I also believe that children cannot raise children. Montaguethrough no fault of her ownis still a child, and she may very well be one for the rest of her life.