Kidnapping is real. It’s scary. It’s the reason I stopped watching Law & Order:SVU once I began bearing children. The very idea that a stranger could muster the unmitigated gall to not only initiate conversation with MY child, let alone approach him/her with the intention of stealing them away from our home causes ice to form around my heart. It drains the blood from my veins. It causes me to think irrational thoughts.
This is why I was baffled by the conclusion of this video.
There is a PSA that’s been floating around of social media for a little over two weeks. I’ve taken my time watching it, because in all honesty, I didn’t want to know HOW easy it was to kidnap your run of the mill American child with access to technology. If you haven’t seen it yet, please take a few minutes to watch it so that we can discuss this in proper detail. Perhaps you will share my befuddlement at its end as well.
Seen it? Good.
I admit, if my husband and I had more resources (read: if we weren’t so cheap) our eldest two children would have access to a cell phone. We live in the age of technology, and despite my husband’s protests, I have gotten each of the kids a laptop. The compromise is that he has put stringent parental restrictions on them. They can only go on 4-5 websites, none of which has a social media feature. BUT, if it were not for my husband’s insistence, I’d probably allow them unfettered access to the world wide web and all its banes. And again, if not for my miserliness, they would have text and telephone capabilities just like all their little funky friends who wave their Apple and Samsung products in my girls’ faces simultaneously singing a rousing chorus of “nah nah boo boo”.
The kids in each of these videos had the trust of their parents. They had an “open relationship”. One of the moms screeched with incredulity at her daughter – who at just age 14 – had the impudence to leave her parents’ house at night to go and meet a boy.
“We’ve watched movies together…we’ve read stories about kids who get taken away together! These are real life situations…”
Herh! What does she mean? Do you know there are 36 year old women who are not permitted to leave their parents’ house after 6pm as we speak? Nonsense! African parents don’t trust their kids. That is why the 36 year old woman is sitting in her house right now, since she didn’t have the sense to find a husband at 23.
Then her father reached around and demanded that she give him her phone. Do you know this little American girl refused to hand over the device? Her father, the one who has gone out to work every day to provide for her, who cuts the grass so she can play in it, who provides at least half of the payment of her cell phone bill HAD TO FIGHT HIS KID to get the device out of his daughter’s hands.
Jesus. Come and take me now.
I understand what was happening in the minds of each of these children. They have been sheltered. They think the horror of being kidnapped and/or sex trafficked could never happen to them. They live in safe neighborhoods and only interact with “good people”. For that, I blame their parents. Jaren Fogle and Josh Duggar have proven once again that the Boogey Man wears khakis, not a hoodie. What I don’t understand is how each scenario did not end in exile.
Yes ooo. For the child of African immigrants, even if they are hybrids or second generation like myself, there are only three possible ways that putting yourself in a situation like this can end:
- Deportation back to Africa
- A beating
- Deportation and a beating
Take the girl who left her house at night. (I’m really stuck on that one.) How was her mother able to sit in the back seat of that white van for such a long time? As soon as I saw the door to my house open, the sliding door to the van would also be opening in sync.
“Hei! Hei! Hei! Akua! Where do you think you are going!?!?”
You think Usain Bolt himself could catch me in that moment? Think again! That is when the beating commence.
And after the nice white investigative reporter/prankster has had the chance to calm me and my husband down so we can have a “heart-to-heart” with our child, we would politely ask him to leave. We have the situation under control, we’d say. Your services are no longer required. Thank you for showing us the way.
“Ehh…Akua. Please go and pack your bags tonight. You have a flight in the morning.”
“Wait. What? Are we going on vacation, Dad?”
“Oh. You could say that. You will arrive at Kotoka by dawn. By noon, you will be in Kyekyebiase.”
Akua (who has hitherto gone by the name “Kelli”) is in shock. She cannot believe the speed with which things have escalated. She’s heard the stories her father used to tell about his ancestral homeland. Her heartbeat becomes irregular.
“No, Dad. Please. I don’t wanna go! I promise I’ll never do it again!”
The African Father acknowledges her repentance with a shrug, saying, “Oh yes. I know you won’t. The networks are very bad in Kyekyebiase. You’ll be lucky if you get one bar on your phone sef!”
“But how did you get a ticket so fast, Daddy?!”
Bemused, African Father lets out a soft chuckle. “Every African family has a special ticket on standby for wayward children. Based on the B’s and C’s you’ve been bringing into this house, we knew this day would come…although we hoped it wouldn’t. Oya! Why are you standing here? I say go and pack your bags quick-quick!”
Kelli is looking around for help from her mother, but the mercurial woman has busied herself by praying in tongues and pouring anointing oil all over the furniture, the door posts, the walls. And true to their word, Akua is on thing smoking, on her way “back” to Africa.
This is why Diasporans never completely lose touch with their connections back home. We never know when we will need the community to stand in where we’ve failed! You think I’m exaggerating? Turn to your Nigerian co-worker (and yes, you DO have a Nigerian co-worker. Everyone does) right now and ask him/her how many “American” kids were in their boarding school growing up. Those people went on to become exemplary human beings, didn’t they? They went on to take over the world.
You know why? There is nothing that can scare an American child straighter than an old village woman/a house master/school director with a mandate from your parents and their motivation to honor the ancestors by turning your leaf anew.
I pray my children never try me. Larteh Kubease is no one’s Disneyland. Someone needs to re-shoot this entire sequence of events and cast the Agbedu family so that children of African heritage understand what is in store for them should they every try this trumpery.
Are you the child of an immigrant? Would you ever send your kids back to India, China or Mexico to straighten them up, or is this only something only Africans do? Do tell!