Friday, October 1, 2010
Eminem feat. Lil Wayne, 'No Love,' from his current best-selling album 'Recovery.' This video has particular resonance given the recent spate of bullying that has led to the suicide of some six teenagers/young adults in the past six weeks. We adults tend to think of bullying as a rite of passage, 'everyone goes through it, somewhat,' we think. We minimize it's impact. I know that I tend to do and think the same thing. But when I think back to when I first came to this country as a ten-year old immigrant and remember the bullying I received in school the only term I can use to describe it is 'relentless.' It was nonstop. And coming from a rural community in a small Caribbean island I just wasn't equipped to deal with it.
When I think about it, I don't know whether the bullying was primarily because I was an immigrant--though on the face of it it seemed very much that way--or simply because young kids often like to make a victim out of anyone who looks or seems different. Picking out a defined weakness and then preying on it is often the norm among youngsters in elementaray through high school. (Come to think of it, any group that succumbs to group-think eventually gives way to gang mentality, and picking on the weak and the vulnerable is often what gangs do in order to feel powerful; so bullying is not just child's play.)
That said, I thought this video was worthwhile because of its subject matter. In the end the kid triumphs, kind of, because I don't really know how he's able to handle those kids on his own (though in real life that's often what happens; the end result being either endless *ss whoopings or a resolution through gun or knife violence). Rarely is the bullied able to triumph through use of his/her own fists or by dialoguing on his/her own with the bullies. I know that with me I just retreated inward for a time and tried to skirt the bullies on the playground or sometimes just stayed inside the school and out of their paths.
After the fact--the deaths, like those that occurred earlier this week and last, and the death of that young Irish girl in Boston several months ago--parents often ask why the child didn't speak up about the bullying to school authorities or tell them (the parents) so they could do something about it. The truth is kids rarely do--speak up that is, about bullying of any sort; bullying by their peers, bullying by adults (like the alleged PREDATOR BISHOP LONG), or bullying by boyfriends or girlfriends.
I know I didn't tell my parents about it. My rationale was that they had too many things on their plates: working, going to school, raising four children. Kids who are bullied, tend to, I think, try to handle it on their own. They think that's expected of them. 'You're a big kid now, you have to figure out how to handle these things on your own; how to deal with your peers.' And they figure their parents will tell them that it's a rite of passage and if they stand up to the bullies soon they will stop.
Unfortunately it's too late for the kids who died this week and over the last six weeks: Tyler Clementi (Rutgers University), 13-year old Seth Walsh (Tehachapi California), 19-year old Raymond Chase (Monticello, New York), Billy Lucas, Asher Brown, and Caleb Nolt from Fort Wayne, Indiana. But their deaths have put the spotlight on bullying and on anti-gay violence, and until those two issues are addressed we must not take the spotlight off.
http://www.thetrevorproject.org/ - The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention group among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.
http://www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/kids/ - U.S. government website aimed at teaching tactics for preventing or minimizing bullying.