Thursday, Lauryn Hill responded to the serious allegations made against her by her 21-year-old daughter, Selah Marley. As you may recall, Marley took to Instagram Live earlier this week and shared that her mother’s unresolved anger caused the Grammy Award-winning singer to utilize harsh disciplinary measures against her children, which left Marley emotionally traumatized.
“She would spank us to no avail,” Selah said. “She was just very angry. So, so, so, so, so, so angry. She was literally not easy to talk to and then half the time we didn’t live with her. I lived with my grandparents half the time… It’s crazy, I’m playing this trauma back in my head as I speak to you,” Marley recalled. “And then the threats, the constant threats… That belt man. That’s that slave s–t. That was some slavery s–t. All Black parents were on that s–t.”
In her recent statement, Hill did not deny or even apologize for utilizing corporal punishment to discipline her kids. She did, however, express that disciplining her children in anger was wrong.
“Selah has every right to express herself, I encourage it. But she also got the discipline that Black children get because we are held to a different standard,” Hill began. “If I am guilty of anything it is disciplining in anger, not in disciplining.”
Hill went on to say that she fiercely disciplined her children out of her desire to protect them and keep them away from trouble.
“Keeping a child sober-minded in the midst of everyone trying to seduce and bride and coerce is an incredibly challenging thing to do,” she went on. “The danger was real! And this danger, I faced alone.”
Hill had plenty more to say — including how withdrawing from the spotlight impacted life with her family. You can read her full statement below, however, one other aspect of her seven-slide statement that stood out was this:
“Selah is on the road to healing and contextualizing her own childhood, and is allowed her process, but if you come for me, come for your own mama, and those absent fathers–come for them too, your grandparents, your great grandparents, your great great grandparents, your great great great grandparents, Caribbean parents, African parents and everyone else damaged and judged for being Black and forced to conform and ‘assimilate’ to western standards of ‘order’ shaped through the filter and lens of anti-blackness. As my children mature, they see the state of the world. Before that, all they saw was me seemingly blocking the fun, not aggressively blocking the trap.”
Obviously, parenting does not come with a manual. It’s tough and for the most part, parents do the best that they can. That said, the issue with spankings and any other form of discipline is that they are not effective when done in anger. Further, physical discipline is especially problematic when anger lurks in the background because the lines between abuse and discipline become blurred rather easily.
“If you do time-out out of frustration, there’s not a huge consequence. But if you spank out of frustration, there’s a consequence that you could actually hurt your child,” child psychologist Dr. Corrin Elmore told Madame Noire last year. “Some parents can give spankings and it’s not personal but most people can’t. And when you’re stressed, it’s harder to do.”
Selah’s recollection of her childhood trauma — including the pain felt by her father Rohan Marley’s absence is heartbreaking. One can only hope that this young woman finds a way to work through her painful past in a constructive way.