Rest in peace, Ike and Tina

Photo by Bruno Cervera

This week, a legend passed. Tina Turner has been a defining voice of my life. Once heard, she wasn’t forgotten. We don’t need another hero.

Her voice was brilliantly described by Juggy Murray of Sue Records, who was played one of her early recordings by her musical and romantic partner, Ike Turner:

“Tina sounded like screaming dirt.”

Juggy Murray, Sue Records

Of the many tributes that have poured in, a large number focus on her strength and example as someone who overcame domestic abuse in her marriage to Ike.

Where trauma begins and ends

This led me to Google: Ike Turner. And to read his Wikipedia entry. And to learn that he witnessed his father “beaten and left for dead” by a white man in Clarksdale, Mississippi as a child.

His father lived for a further couple of years, before dying of his injuries when Ike was five years old. He also had a “violent alcoholic” stepfather and suffered sexual abuse as a child.

Tina herself had a mother who fled from an abusive marriage, just as Tina would do from Ike years later.

All I ever knew about Ike Turner was that he was the man who beat up Tina Turner. As a legacy, it’s a damning one. That was all I knew. Maybe he made some good music? I know Tina did. That’s why I know Ike.

Corporal punishment

But reading Ike’s Wikipedia entry reminded me of an article I read a few months back about corporal punishment in Mississippi schools. Amazingly, corporal punishment is still legal in public schools in 19 US states, with significantly the highest rates in Mississippi, Ike’s home state.

In public schools in the United States, black children are twice as likely as white children to be subject to corporal punishment.

Dick Startz, Professor of Economics, University of California, Santa Barbara

These little, miscellaneous, seemingly unrelated facts make me wonder about an ingrained culture of violence, what that does to those who live through it, and how trauma echoes down throughout the years.

A level playing field? As long as you’re not from The Wrong Part of Town