MJ's Mom on Beatings: That's How Blacks Raised Kids

Katherine and Joe Jackson (Oprah.com)
Katherine and Joe Jackson (Oprah.com)

During an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired today, Joe Jackson finally admitted that he beat his son Michael and other members of the famous Jackson brood. After denying it at the beginning of the interview, Joe said he'd done it and that it was the right thing to do.


"It kept them out of jail and kept them right," Joe Jackson said.

The Jackson family patriarch fessed up on the Oprah Winfrey show after being prodded to do so by his wife, Katherine — and after first denying raising a hand to the Gloved One.

"I don't think he was afraid of me," he insisted. "I never beat him. That never happened."

Katherine Jackson wasn't having it.

"You might as well admit it, that's the way black people raised their children," she said. "He used a strap."


No doubt, many of us over a certain age — of all races — can tell you stories of getting the switch, paddle, belt or hand smack. Get in a room with a bunch of black people who were raised before the era of timeouts, bring up the subject of corporal punishment, and we will trade "war stories" of childhood whippings for hours, each one vying to outdo the other with tales of extreme discipline.


But what you won't hear in that room is stories of being stripped down naked, oiled up and beaten with an ironing cord, as Michael said happened. That was not how most black parents raised their children, Katherine. Granted, Katherine's utterance was prompted by a remark Oprah made about beatings being "the culture" when she was growing up. But to imply that what the Jackson kids went through was normal discipline in the black community is the height of denial. No, it was just plain sadistic, Katherine. Don't make excuses for child abuse.

See the video of what Joe and Katherine Jackson said on Oprah.com.

Sheryl Huggins Salomon is senior editor-at-large of The Root and a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based editorial consultant. Follow her on Twitter.