‘It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb, the concept being that everyone in the village plays a part in the rearing of children. 

In the news recently, there was a story about a video of a young black boy who was cussing up a storm. The major controversy surrounding the story wasn’t that the young baby (who is still in diapers and 2 years old) was using such foul language, nor the news that the mother is just 16 years old (meaning she was possibly pregnant at 13) and is still a minor — a major issue. 

Even worse, the issue wasn’t that those who were old enough to know better were spewing profanity at the child and telling him to say things like “suck my dick.” What made the story news is that the Omaha Police Department posted the video on their website and labeled the video “thug lifestyle,” in essence branding the child a future “thug.” 

Now I personally know someone who grew up being “cussed at” by his father. If someone didn’t know his given name on his birth certificate, they would swear it was “little nigger.” His father used that and other offensive words, which had a devastating effect on his psyche, but there were other mitigating factors that helped to offset those hateful/hurtful words to make sure he didn’t become a thug.

I posted the video on my Facebook page for several reasons. The first is that I am on a campaign against people who post the pictures of kids with profanity in the captions as if it were a joke. It is not funny to have a baby in a highchair referring to his mother as “bitch.” When a person teaches adult language to an infant who is the symbol of all that is new, fresh, unspoiled and innocent, then we are making a baby a “little adult” rather than the child he or she actually is. Second, I did it to prove that actually seeing and hearing a young child using a stream of profanity isn’t as cute in reality as some people think it is when they post the profanity-laden pictures.

I got a lot of responses to the video. Especially by those who immediately found other YouTube videos of children of other races using profanity. I watched every video they posted and the major difference was that the adults in the videos immediately chastised the child for using the words. The adults weren’t spewing the profanity at the child in a two-way profanity laden conversation like the video in question. 

The biggest issue in this entire debacle is that the video was posted on a police website, which is a sad commentary on how some of us never want to address our own shortcomings. I am not shocked when racist folks behave in a racist manner. Thus the police finding the video and posting it wasn’t surprising. However, I am highly offended when black folks give them the tools via videos like this one, supplying them with the ammunition.

The police chief in Omaha was put on the hot seat because of the video. Yet he also mentioned that the video had been out on a person’s public website and had been viewed by people and no one complained until the police posted it on their site. What does that say about a village that is supposed to be helping to raise a child? We find it palatable/funny/of no concern until somebody white posts it and then we get upset? Where is the outcry from our black political leadership to make people financially/criminally/morally responsible for things posted on YouTube? 

We may not be able to totally legislate behavior, but we can and should legislate to make people think twice before posting videos of children who cannot legally give their consent. If it really does take an entire village to raise a child, it is time for the villagers to speak up and out. 

Silence is not an option.