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Book Reviews

Spare the Kids is a necessary book.  Drawing from history, popular culture, and cutting-edge research, Stacey Patton makes a careful and persuasive argument against the practice of hitting children.  Without condescension or unnecessary moralizing, this book will challenge your most deeply held assumptions and refute your strongest arguments.  More importantly, it challenges us to develop a healthier and more humane approach to raising and loving our children.”

–Marc Lamont Hill, author of Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, from Ferguson to Flint and Beyond

“The impact on child-rearing among so many black families of Stacey Patton’s Spare the Kids may well prove as powerfully corrective as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was upon the acceptance of chattel slavery.”

—David Levering Lewis, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for biographies on W.E.B. Du Bois

“In a nation where violence is so readily offered as the answer to one or another problem, Stacey Patton’s bold and uncompromising dismantling of the logic behind corporal punishment is a much-needed corrective.  Though aimed specifically at support for the practice in the black community, this is far from a simple scolding of black America.  Indeed, Patton brilliantly demonstrates the ways that corporal punishment is indelibly linked to white supremacy, and a continuation of the systemic logic that undergirds it.  In that sense, her work is less moralizing – something we already have more than enough of – than a structural analysis of systemic injustice and how that injustice has been transmitted directly, and often brutally, onto the bodies of children.  Though Patton aims her words directly at the black community, to the extent that corporal punishment is far too common among American families generally, this book has the potential to impact a broad and diverse audience.”

—Tim Wise, author of White Like Me: Reflection on Race from a Privileged Son

“Patton’s book is the most forceful case against corporal punishment ever made.  Rooted in a deep understanding of the historical devaluation of black life, informed by the best science on trauma and violence exposure as predictors of future violence, and written in a fierce, urgent tone.  If you turn these pages, you will stop beating your child.  Ending the legacy of the master’s lash in our schools and rejecting the preacher’s admonition against sparing the rod in our homes may be the surest way for parents to show black children that their lives matter.”

—Khalil Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern America and professor at Harvard Kennedy School

Spare the Kids is a heartbreaking – an important – book that addresses the nightmarish reality that black parents devoted to bring up their children with love and respect may engage in punishment that hurts their families and reinforces ideas of white superiority and black inferiority.  Skillfully weaving together history, the experiences of black families, the reports of researchers, and the work of child advocates, Stacey Patton is leading a call for change that will transform child-rearing forever.”

—Jorja Leap, author of Project Fatherhood: A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America’s Toughest Communities

“As a writer who had my daughter in my middle thirties and my son in my forties, I had thought a lot about how I wanted to raise them. I decided before they were born that I would not spank them. Stacey Patton’s Spare the Kids confirmed my instinct that it couldn’t be a way to build the kind of loving, trusting relationship I wanted to have with my kids. Being a parent is hard, no doubt. We make decisions all day, every day, small ones and big that impact our children’s daily lives and ones that have long-range consequences. Patton’s book reminds us that by respecting black children, their thoughts, their gifts, and their humanity, we show them that we love them.”
—Benilde Little, national best-selling author of Good HairThe Itch, and Welcome to My Breakdown
“Stacey Patton’s raw, searing and often disturbing examination peels back the layers of corporal punishment and exposes the deep and institutionalized wounds of our past, as well as the evidentiary tales of the present.”
—Kuae Kelch Mattox, National President, Mocha Moms, Inc. 
“The personal and generational damage Patton lays bare indicts a fearful culture of violence and implicates not only conceptions of good parenting among African Americans but among Americans at large.  This is a must-read for all concerned about the welfare of children, about America’s future, and about the U.S. Constitution’s pledge of “We the people” to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
The Library Journal

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