"I'm her mom, not the nanny!"

CJ Westerberg, October 20, 2011 4:47 PM

photo: CNN
" 'I don't think we know anybody Hispanic
who isn't a baby sitter,' he said.

In the sad-but-true department:  via CNN, "I'm her mom, not the nanny!" by Rose Arce.
An excerpt: 

We were at a Manhattan water park when it happened. I was with my then 3-year-old daughter, Luna, playing in a sandpit on a foul, chilly morning beneath clouds that looked like ripped paper. It was no day to be outside, but living in a city of small apartments, it was no day to be inside with a child either.

A little girl approached the two of us, clearly interested in playing. But when she arrived, she addressed only Luna. Pointing a finger at me, she asked her, "Is that your baby sitter?"

I've been mistaken for baby sitters all my life, or waitresses, sales clerks, even the occasional cleaning lady -- but it's a whole new experience to have it happen in front of my child.

It's not that there are no Latinos in Manhattan who wouldn't upset the stereotypes. There are just too few of us in the upper middle class universe where I live who aren't, well, baby-sitting or selling things. I get where this idea originated. I even understand why little kids are so frank.

Then her dad walked over." "I'm her mother," I told him, and he looked perplexed.
 "I don't think we know anybody Hispanic who isn't a baby sitter," he said.

Luna is much fairer than I am and has dead straight hair that becomes a soft brown
 in the sun. I have dark curly hair like most everyone in her extended family. Luna is well aware that we don't look alike . . .

Let us know if you've experienced or witnessed a similar story . . . .

Published The Daily Riff July 2011

  • qwerty

    Ric - so you've bought into the brainwashing and are now exhibiting symptoms of White Guilt. Congratulations.

    The problem is NOT White Privilege, it's the lack of valuing an education. In Stuyvesant High School in NYC, the most competitive school where entrance is purely on MERIT the statistics are telling - 71.6% are asian, 24% are white, 2.9% are hispanic, and 1.2% are black. Oh, and 41% of the school is at the poverty level so there goes the privileged white/asian argument. Community activists screamed institutional racism and the city provided FREE tutoring and support but still black and hispanic enrollment lagged. Until hispanics and blacks change their communities' culture, people like you will be the outlier and will continue to be mistaken for a nanny. And you are not doing yourself a favor by dressing like one. If you are upper middle class then dress better. Dressing better is not a product of White Privilege but of class distinctions, a totally different bias. You wouldn't go to a business meeting dressed in a t-shirt and cutoffs as you wouldn't be taken seriously. Instead of complaining, try to be proactive and be a hispanic role model.

  • Ric

    I'm re-reading White Privilege and this pattern of stereotype is so entrenched, that most people do not realize the pre-judgements (prejudice) we are wired with through our upbringing.

    As a teacher of around 150 students each year (7th grade); about 85% Latino, 10% Black and Asian, and 5% White stories like this go in nearly every conceivable direction. It comes in the kinds of foods we think those different than us think the others will like. It comes in the style of dress we expect others to wear. It comes in the assumptions we carry.

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