Nannies and Prejudice

Last week, the New York Times ran a front page story titled Nanny Hunt Can be a 'Slap in the Face' for Blacks, which outlined, in painful detail, how difficult finding a nanny can be for African American working moms. Finding good childcare is hard for everyone. Happy solutions almost always require luck, money, good judgment and perseverance. The article argues -- with anecdotal examples based on interviews with nannies and agencies in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Houston, plus factual evidence -- that black families face additional obstacles because of childcare providers who avoid working for black families. The reasons, according to the Times, "included accusations of low pay and extra work, fears that employers would look down at them, and suspicion that any neighborhood inhabited by blacks had to be unsafe."

The Times's follow-up discussion revealed more difficult experiences facing black families searching for quality childcare:

"My experience is living proof that black nannies have no desire to work for black couples...the worst kinds of stereotypes and ignorance come into play. My husband and I tried everything with several nannies this year but to no avail. Some of the complaints were for things that would have not been noticed had we been of any other ethnicity. We're back to daycare and rushing home from work."
"I once spoke with a very experienced black nanny who was choosing between two families for her next job, one white and one black. She picked the black family because she knew they would have trouble finding childcare and wanted to show loyalty to other black people. That was the only contrarian voice I ever heard."
"Blaming parents for using nannies at all [distracts from the real problem of race-based discrimination]... Let's just call it what it is: Many black people have a hard time buying an essential and legal service on the same terms available to white people."

The article and the online discussion brought to light many problems clearly not faced by white working moms. We all know how vulnerable we feel when looking for trustworthy childcare. Now imagine adding racial discrimination to that emotional process. Jill Hudson Neal, an African American Washington Post editor and columnist for washingtonpost.com, works full-time and has two sons, ages four and two. She employed a nanny from Peru when her first child was four months old until she moved to a new neighborhood and switched to a home-based daycare less than two miles away. Her childcare experiences have been positive, but she empathizes with other African American moms. "The thing about racism is that you can't pinpoint it -- it's insidious and soul-numbing. I can only imagine how hard it must be for a new mom, desperate to do the right thing for her baby and her family, having to worry about that, too."

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 3, 2007; 7:15 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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hmmmm, a blog on rich people having trouble spending their money. Must be terrible.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 8:17 AM

Good help is sooo hard to find. I couln't find anyone who knew to serve from the left and take from the right.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 8:18 AM

So what is the solution? To force black nannies to work for black families?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 8:49 AM

Why were there no interviews with DC nannies here? Why not ask the nannies how they choose? By the way jokesters, Nannies are not only for the rich, I know a slightly upper middle class family with 5 kids who has an immigrant nanny rather than spend $5k per month on daycare.

Posted by: Bethesdan | January 3, 2007 8:56 AM

"The thing about racism is that you can't pinpoint it -- it's insidious and soul-numbing......

This is the best comment. Who is racist in this article? The white nannies who choose to work for white families, the black nannies who won't work for black families, or the black families who only want black nannies?

Posted by: who? | January 3, 2007 8:58 AM

Actually, I think this article points to a somewhat larger issue --
When you hire someone to help care for your children, it's not like picking out a couch. You're hiring another human being -- who, like it or not, is going to have a worldview, values, opinions and experiences that they bring to that job.

The question is how you either (a.) find someone whose worldview gels with your own or (b.) make peace with the differences which you and your child's caregiver may have in terms of how you see the world, and how you impart your worldview to that child.

What the families in the article were experiencing was perhaps the realization that you want something more than someone who's reliable and kind -- you also want the person who's going to be imprinting their values on your child to not be racist, and to value your culture and your family's way of doing things -- even if it's different from their own. In other words, even if you could 'force' the white nannies (or black nannies) to work for your family, if deep down they harbored some racist sentiments, it might ultimately do your family more harm than good. (And even if you're a white family, do YOU really want a white nanny who is racist raising YOUR kids?)

I know all the books and guidebooks say that the best way to work out these issues with a caregiver is to be really honest and discuss them. ("I notice that you usually steer Isabel towards the pink dolls and the ballet books. We feel it's really important that she not be stereotyped into female roles . .. ") Unfortunately, I've never felt really comfortable having those conversations about values with caregivers -- have the rest of you?

Posted by: Armchair Mom | January 3, 2007 9:25 AM

"By the way jokesters, Nannies are not only for the rich, I know a slightly upper middle class family with 5 kids who has an immigrant nanny rather than spend $5k per month on daycare."

Are their papers up to date?

Posted by: INS | January 3, 2007 9:32 AM

How can you say this points to a larger issue when the whole article is about rich, black people who can't find nannies because of their race? Did I read the same article as you?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 9:34 AM

This is the best comment. Who is racist in this article? The white nannies who choose to work for white families, the black nannies who won't work for black families, or the black families who only want black nannies?


Good question. All three groups could be racist or have racist feelings. I've never seriously considered a nanny; I prefer solid regulations and accountability for my kids when it comes to childcare. So I feel most comfortable with daycare centers. I don't even feel comfortable with family daycare. But a nanny (if I could afford one) probably would have been best for my son; too much noise and chaos and too many kids overstimulate him.

But here's my confession: I have used a white babysitter consistently to watch my kids (she was a teacher at my kids' former daycare). She is very good. She is also white. At first, I was reluctant to use her (my kids and I are black), until I saw that several other black families used her. I was told that that was racist. I don't agree. My fear was: is this woman racist, and will she be able to care for my kids without passing on anything racist or offensive? Not anything blatant, but something passed on unconsciously (or subconsciously) that could impact my kids' self-esteem? That was a silly thought when it came to this woman, and I regret it. It was fear based on racial history, but not racist sentiment.

But I'm curious. What do you think? Was I racist or not?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 9:35 AM

Get over it. Just because someone cannot find a nanny because the preferred candidates chose other homes does not mean that racism is at work. People choose the environment they want to work in for many reasons.Individual decisions, like working for a professional rather than other employers, enter into it. Nobody wants someone who settled for working for him or her. Finding a loving, stable nanny is a task for any race and blaming racism for it not being easier is just an unfair complaining mechanism growing out of frustration.

Posted by: CC | January 3, 2007 9:38 AM

Turn the tables and make it a white family who didn't want a black woman to baby-sit their kid, now is that racist?

Posted by: ? | January 3, 2007 9:42 AM

Interesting subject. I do not employ a nannie. My son goes to a school/daycare where he is part of the white minority. The teachers and director are black with the exception of one male teacher. I generally feel that my son will be able to grow and feel comfortable around all different kinds of people because of this exposure. These teachers and caregivers all care for my son as they would their own and my son is learning respect for those that look different than he, mommy or daddy does.

Posted by: cj | January 3, 2007 9:44 AM

When you hire someone to help care for your children, it's not like picking out a couch. You're hiring another human being -- who, like it or not, is going to have a worldview, values, opinions and experiences that they bring to that job.

anon at 9:34: I'd say Armchair Mom was quite eloquent about the nature of the larger issue. Fine credentials and background checks are a threshold for hireability or placement, but neither is sufficient for determining whether any particular childcare provider is right for your child. Armchair Mom's comment applies to a broader subset of childcare providers than nannies. It's equally true for babysitting co-ops, preschools and that nice teenager who occasionally watches your kids so you can have a once a month date.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 9:44 AM

I guess we should get over it!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 9:44 AM

to theoriginalmomoftwo

Yes. You are fearing/assuming that someone of a different skin color has negative opinions about someone of another skin color. Sounds like racism to me. If the situation was reversed, a white person thinking that about a black person, I think you would agree - if you are honest with yourself.

Posted by: s | January 3, 2007 9:50 AM

Interesting issue.

I used a day care provider (in her home) who was black, and for most of the 4-5 years I had a child there we were the only white family there. We loved her.

Is there any experience here to suggest that ethnic families are more likely to recruit family members to provide day care?

Posted by: RoseG | January 3, 2007 9:52 AM

Turn the tables and make it a white family who didn't want a black woman to baby-sit their kid, now is that racist?

Second try with my response:

It depends. Come to think of it, I've never really had a problem with any white teachers, day camp counselors, child care workers, etc. working with my children, no more than black or Hispanic, etc. Just this woman. Now I'm wondering why.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 9:52 AM

This is a really tough issue. Of course if a black nanny says that she won't work for black families because they "don't pay well and ask for extra work", then yes that is racist because she is generalizing about one race. The truth is there is racism within the black community---be it based on skin color (lighter people better thought of for example) or for whatever other reason. I was completely taken aback when a young black physician I was supervising in the ER came to me to say that a black family refused to be treated by him. They preferred a jewish doctor. Totally ridiculous, but it's a tough situation---(would have loved to lecture them about this, but didn't for all kinds of reasons related to preferring to focus on the very sick patient). Just goes to show you that racism is alive and well in this country.

Now I agree that having someone in your home as a caretaker of your child is fraught with all kinds of emotion and anxiety. The family and the caregiver enter an intimate relationship and there needs to be a comfort level on both sides. So the reasons for the choice both ways is not always clear.

And with regard to this being a "rich" family's issue--sure, I agree. But it demonstrates that it's not so easy for those with money either. Be nice. Maybe tomorrow Leslie will talk about families without money and how they handle childcare.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 9:54 AM

Just because someone cannot find a nanny because the preferred candidates chose other homes does not mean that racism is at work.

Did you feel the same way, e.g., that racism was not at work, when it became generally recognized in the late '80s by the masses that middle-class black men in Midtown couldn't get a cabbie of any race to stop for them?

When there's an isolated incident, I understand your reluctance to acknowledge that racism is afoot. However, when one or more agencies won't return the call of an African-American parent because the agency has no potential candidate in its pool who will work for a family about whom the agency knows precious more than its race and surname, what's the most reasonable conclusion to draw? Let's not get distracted by who's being racist. The more important point is that childcare options are not equally available to everyone of a similar economic background.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 9:54 AM

It may also depend on the care type.

If you have someone live-in then you're looking at a much more intimate relationship, and ethnic habits might become more of an issue.

Posted by: RoseG | January 3, 2007 9:59 AM

What is an "ethnic family"?

Posted by: to RoseG | January 3, 2007 10:00 AM

Let's not get distracted by who's being racist

Of course not. We don't want to shine the light on the fact that black people can be racist too.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 10:01 AM

We've entered the twilight zone here, when we start crying "racism" when a member of one racial/ethnic group doesn't want to work for someone else of the _same_ group because the prospective employer a) pays less, b) demands more work, and c) the job is located in a more dangerous area.

Wake up and smell the coffee - the other term for this is "taking the better job offer." The solutions used by millions of other employers include: a) offering more money; b) accepting a less experienced or less qualified employee; c) improving the job conditions.

There are some things "that you can't pinpoint" because they aren't there (poltergeists and leprecauns leap to mind for me).

Posted by: Bizzarre | January 3, 2007 10:06 AM

"We don't want to shine the light on the fact that black people can be racist too."

Of course, we wouldn't want to miss a day of the OnBalance blog re-directed toward grinding your favorite ax so you can justify your own racism. Please do carry on and don't let the rest of us get in your way while we discuss kids, families and balance.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 10:10 AM

I am actually amazed how some people are so quick to dismiss this as a potential racist situation. I think it may be that the AA parents do not care if the nanny is AA or not. But if they can't get anyone to work for them based on race, then there is some racism in play. It is really sad when AAs are racist towards each other. But I can totally see that some people would not want to work for someone based on race. And that is wrong. Sad but true. I really feel for these families. It seems like they can't win. They work hard, get educated, and want to do the best for their families. And there are so many obstacles from the black community and the non black communities. Also, why do you guys all assume anyone with a nanny is rich. I know a number of upper middle class families with nannies. After two kids, a nanny is actually more affordable then full time day care with 3+ children. Even with two, it becomes questionable. I know several families of twins that found it was cheaper to get a nanny for the first 15 months then pay two infant day care costs. And believe it or not, the rich have problems too.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 10:11 AM

How many families in "dangerous areas" are hiring nannies? Really.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 10:13 AM

When people ask why we don't have children, my husband and I like to joke "who would take care of them and who would they play with?" We would have to employ a nanny because of our odd work schedules. The nannies in the article might find me "demanding," an employer wants someone articulate, who also can braid hair. And either my husband or me staying home isn't on the table.

The larger issue that the article touches on is that the playing field for people of color is NOT level. Childcare, just like mortages or financing a car, is layered with race and class biases on both sides.

As a middle-class black couple, I feel that we are somewhat of a no-man's land of race and class. Lower-income blacks sometimes resent our success, while some whites of all backgrounds assume the worst, simply because we're black.

Posted by: jrobin | January 3, 2007 10:15 AM

I think it is clear that most of the people posting comments have not read the article. I highly recommend that you do because it is truly heartbreaking. The black families featured did not say that they preferred or wanted a black nanny, only that no nanny would work for them, and that they were particularly surprised that even blacks nannies were among those who refused. One nanny describes an experience at the playground where the other nannies referred to the black child she was babysitting as a little monkey. It was terrible, and I don't think these families were just imagining it. These were hardworking people who earned a good living and had every right to seek decent childcare. Why the attacks?

Posted by: Wow | January 3, 2007 10:17 AM

"We don't want to shine the light on the fact that black people can be racist too."

Of course, we wouldn't want to miss a day of the OnBalance blog re-directed toward grinding your favorite ax so you can justify your own racism. Please do carry on and don't let the rest of us get in your way while we discuss kids, families and balance.

Nothing this person said was racist. Get a grip. If you don't want to discuss the whole issue, maybe you should wait until tomorrow's blog to post. Please do not speak for me either.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 10:18 AM

Here's a bone to chew on: just b/c the nanny or the family is "black" doesn't mean they are from the same culture. The ethnicity box may read African-American, but the individual who checks that box may be a native of the States, the Caribbean or the African sub-continent. Certainly if you are looking for care-givers who share similar values, varying cultures may also impact the choices a family or the nanny make.

Posted by: triviagal | January 3, 2007 10:19 AM

jrobin, I'm in total agreement with you.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 10:19 AM

This is an interesting topic - the kind of issue that keeps me stopping by this blog occaisionally.

Most of the child care providers in my community are Hispanic and the families are primarily upper middle class of all ethnicities. I've never heard of discrimination against particular families, perhaps because the ethnic mix is so varied. However, most tend to hire directly through word of mouth and not through an agency. It seems the agencies are making assumptions apriori that are based on stereotypes. I work with people who are responsible for training child care providers and am now curious about their views on this.

Posted by: Rockville | January 3, 2007 10:19 AM

The article doesn't say that black families pay less, demand more and live in an unsafe environment. It says the prospective employee assumes that black families will pay less, demand more and live in an unsafe environment. Since it is not fact it is an assumption that would be stereotyping and prejudice.

Finding childcare is difficult, adding this layer makes it harder. Is it unfair to those it happens to? YES. Is there a solution, not likely.

Posted by: mamamimi | January 3, 2007 10:20 AM

My nickname for my son is monkey - why is that offensive?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 10:21 AM

My nickname for my son is monkey - why is that offensive?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 10:21 AM

On the topic of poverty, childcare (or simply caring for children), and bad neighborhoods, I have just finished reading and absolutely recommend Adrian Nicole Leblanc's _Random Family_--a documentary account of about ten years in the lives of a group of loosely related Puerto Ricans living in the Bronx. It is the most heartbreaking story, told in a strikingly matter-of-fact and non-judgmental way; I think it would be a nice counterpoint to this blog's admittedly wealthier, "whiter" point of view.

Posted by: aging mom | January 3, 2007 10:24 AM

Hear, hear, jrobin.

The only surprise I had in the article was the couple whose primary reason for seeking a caregiver of the same race was hairstyling. I appreciate that knowing how to take care of African-American hair is a trained skill, but I would have thought they'd be willing to train a caregiver on appropriate haircare and hairstyling if that caregiver was right for their family in all other respects. I couldn't help but think of the items on our childcare MUST HAVE list, and thinking that this skillset would have been farther down my list. Maybe the article didn't do justice to this family's concerns or maybe I was reading to fast, or is the hair issue somewhat of a marker for a caregiver who understands a whole host of race-specific issues?

Posted by: NC Lawyer | January 3, 2007 10:28 AM

"Many black families say they seek only a sitter who is reliable and loving. But some do have race-based preferences themselves......."

"They preferred a black sitter, who would instantly understand matters like how to do their daughter's hair"

"another time, she placed a race-neutral ad, and hid by the window as the prospective nannies drove up, sighing with relief when a black one appeared."

Posted by: I read it | January 3, 2007 10:28 AM

"In an exception to the usual stroller parade of black sitters with white children, some white nannies do care for black children -- and experience slights because of it. Margaret Kop, a Polish sitter in Chicago, said that on a recent playground visit, ''one of the other nannies asked me, 'Where did you find that monkey?' '' On the way home, Ms. Kop cried, stung by the insult to the child she loved."

That is acceptable to you?

Posted by: Wow | January 3, 2007 10:29 AM

I found the following quote interesting:

"For nannies, working for an employer of the same background or skin color ''highlights their lower economic status,'' she said, but ''the fact that their employers are black just makes that more intense.''

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 10:29 AM

I agree w/ Wow; I read the article last week when it appeared and sent it out to my friends who are moms. As a black woman in my late 30's, I have to admit that these are the issues that make me wonder whether or not I want to have a child. As hard as it is to raise a child, no matter what your economic status is, those of us from certain ethnic (ethnic being any group w/ a common culture, language, customs, etc.) backgrounds recognize we will face obstacles that folks from other ethnic backgrounds won't have to even consider.

Posted by: triviagal | January 3, 2007 10:30 AM

That is acceptable to you?

who are you talking too?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 10:33 AM

I'm pretty sure the monkey comment is offensive because as a people african americans have been compared to monkeys in the past. I call my children little monkeys (we are white) but I would never use that term with a child of color because it might be misinterpreted. What the article didn't convey was the tone of the question about the child. I'm assuming it was more of an incredulous question than a sweet one.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 10:34 AM

Do au pairs have the same ability to reject a quality placement as nannies? It has been my impression that au pairs have far less power to pick and choose the families they work for and that, while not the same quality childcare, this might be the best way around this problem. Au pairs are less expensive, but the turnover rate is not less than once per year which is why we wouldn't have considered one. Thoughts?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 10:37 AM

Triviagal - remember the morons are not going to stop breeding - you might want to have a child just to make sure they don't outnumber us.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 10:40 AM

is it really you, moxiemom, or an imposter posing as the one and only moxiemom?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 3, 2007 10:43 AM

I think most people can recognize that the incidents described in the article are racist. I'm just surprised that with racism that blatent, there are still some who don't believe it (bizarre) or dismiss it. The first step to solving a problem is recognizing it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 10:46 AM

The monkey comment was horrible. If anyone ever called my cousins monkeys or my friends, I would have a hard time controlling myself. The larger issue is the fact that a lot of people in this article were being discriminated against and a lot held prejudices against people they knew nothing about. I think discrimination and racism can happen to anyone regardless of their color. I am white and while I am not an expert at black hair, I have done it a time or to and would be willing to learn to do it better.

I also think that because this is America people have the right to turn down any job for any reason at anytime. I do wish I had some money to start a company because it seems like there is a great need for nannies that is going unfilled because of people's bias. I could make a killing and help people. I have the flu, so I am going back to bed. Just thought I would put my 2 cents in.

Posted by: scarry | January 3, 2007 10:46 AM

haha Its really me NC Lawyer - i promise. Maybe you'll get to know my tone and then you can tell. Thanks for asking.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 10:48 AM

Moxiemom took the words right out of my mouth about the monkey comment. I don't want to be one of the people hijacking this discussion, but I do think that it is important to acknowledge that this is an additional obstacle that people of color can face. I can't say I was surprised but I was just saddened that people felt the need to make it about the families being racist or the person who said that it is at outrageous to believe that racism still exists as it is to believe in poltergeists or leprechauns. I appreciate many of the thoughtful comments because I think open honest discussions about race and racism are important.

Posted by: Wow | January 3, 2007 10:49 AM

moxiemom,

In my flu induced haze I thought you said the mormans aren't going to stop breeding. I had to go back and re-read it.

Posted by: scarry | January 3, 2007 10:52 AM

I agree with moxiemom. I have had people call my DD a monkey because she is a climber. It just seems to be in her blood. But if DD was AA, I would be highly offended because I would question why they were calling DD a monkey. I would never call any child a monkey of AA descent.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 10:54 AM

"We've entered the twilight zone here, when we start crying "racism" when a member of one racial/ethnic group doesn't want to work for someone else of the _same_ group because the prospective employer a) pays less, b) demands more work, and c) the job is located in a more dangerous area."

No, actually, we cry racism when a potential employee ASSUMES that a prospective employer will (a) pay less, (b) demand more, and (c) be located in a more dangerous area, SOLELY because the employer is black, without knowing a damn thing more about the situation.

Why do people seem to get so angry and defensive about the concept that racism still exists? Every time someone even mentions racism on this board, the knee-jerk responses are guaranteed to be either "it's all in your head" or "black people are racist, too." Plus today we get a nice little side of schadenfreude because of the perceived wealth of the people involved. Are people just in denial, or are they actively trying to sabotage any productive discussion on the topic?

I'm not saying that there's any easy answer to this. But money is green. When people start treating it as black or white, that needs to be exposed and talked about, not swept under the rug or brushed off.

Posted by: Laura | January 3, 2007 10:58 AM

Not surprised at all, after reading the NYT article.

This just shows another way in which our society is sick, no matter how you want to slice it between races or ethnicities. It's like the assumptions black folks face in a restaurant when people assume they won't tip well, so they get bad seating and bad service; or that in order to be successful they must be doing something illegal.

A nanny service in Washington that willingly cuts Prince George's County out of its service area -- the wealthiest majority-black county in the US -- is being racist, but more importantly is displaying an inferior business practice. I wish such a service would be put out of business for having very poor acumen.

No matter our education or income levels, there are still too many in America today who are willing to believe black people alone are a drain on society if we're not successful -- a stigma not as quickly attached to other races or ethnic groups here -- and a threat to the success of the larger (white) society if we are successful.

There are still too many black people who have done all the prerequisites for success in this country but have to jump through additional hoops over and over again to guarantee their worthiness. And it disgusts me to the very core.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Posted by: dirrtysw | January 3, 2007 11:00 AM

"The article doesn't say that black families pay less, demand more and live in an unsafe environment. It says the prospective employee assumes that black families will pay less, demand more and live in an unsafe environment. Since it is not fact it is an assumption that would be stereotyping and prejudice."

Yes, but WHY did the prospective employee believe that to be true? We're talking about people looking for work, who have job offers from multiple employers of different races - and in many cases, I suspect, experience with multiple employers of different races.

Let's start with the simplest piece. Do you really believe that African-American employers are - on average, of course - offering as much or more money than others, and that African-American nannies are too ill-informed to realize it? That's absurd!

Posted by: Bizzarre | January 3, 2007 11:02 AM

"The article doesn't say that black families pay less, demand more and live in an unsafe environment. It says the prospective employee assumes that black families will pay less, demand more and live in an unsafe environment. Since it is not fact it is an assumption that would be stereotyping and prejudice."

Yes, but WHY did the prospective employee believe that to be true? We're talking about people looking for work, who have job offers from multiple employers of different races - and in many cases, I suspect, experience with multiple employers of different races.

Let's start with the simplest piece. Do you really believe that African-American employers are - on average, of course - offering as much or more money than others, and that African-American nannies are too ill-informed to realize it? That's absurd!

Posted by: Bizzarre | January 3, 2007 11:11 AM

scarry - you made me laugh out loud - a rarity. Imagine the firestorm that would have unleashed. Remember to hydrate and feel better.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 11:13 AM

Laura, I agree with you. I find the phrase, "blacks are racist too" to be a discussion-killer. Racists can come in all colors; that's no stunning revelation. But what about the topic at hand?

I appreciate an open discussion about race. I hope we will have that today.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 11:15 AM

Good Help is hard to find? You sure? A friend's roommate was letting his illegal immigrant girlfriend live at their apartment, she was a nanny. She came over legally with Au Pair in America, a 1-year program, yet has been in the US for 4 years, well beyond her legal welcome. good help isn't hard to find, it's a matter of whether it's legal or not.

Posted by: Rosslyn, VA | January 3, 2007 11:19 AM

Bizzare,

I think the absurdity is your blind faith that market forces are always right.

Posted by: Milton F's ghost | January 3, 2007 11:20 AM

The irony here is that, back in the day, all the openly, proudly racist white families used black nannies, maids, drivers, etc.

Posted by: An Dliodoir | January 3, 2007 11:22 AM

When has there ever been a case where a nanny could replace a father or mother, never. It sounds like all of you career women should sit down and read the story of Nancy Pelosi, she stayed home and raised 5 children and didn't enter the workforce until she was 47 and look where she is today.You've got your priorities screwed up again girls.

Posted by: mcewen | January 3, 2007 11:24 AM

a good nanny is a good nanny, regardless of color or background. Period. But without trying a nanny out, it's impossible to know if she is the "right" nanny for your children. So parents are trying to make an "educated guess" -- looking form somebody whose culture, background, language, life experience they are familiar with. Something tangible that they can understand and evaluate. Looking into somebody's eyes and seeing their soul (to paraphrase our Pres, I am being sarcastic). In my view, racism does not come into play at all here.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 11:24 AM

mcewen:Maybe the guys should be re-examining their priorities.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 11:26 AM

"Why do people seem to get so angry and defensive about the concept that racism still exists?"

Because we seem to have become obsessed with it. Regardless of who you are, what your background is, or what your racial and ethnic origins are, some:

a) People will not like you;

b) Prospective employers will not hire you;

c) Contests in life you will lose;

d) Waitstaff will be surly and unhelpful;

e) Some situations will seem to be, at least from your point of view, randomly and inexplicably unfair.

Unfortunately, that's part of the human condition. Racism is a bad thing, but it's not the cause of all the unfairness and interpersonal nastiness in the world - not even for African-Americans.

Slavery was evil. Jim Crow was evil. But when we turn the difficulty in finding a good nanny into a case of racism, we're trivializing the whole concept. I am heartily sick of people whose first instinct is to attribute all the normal annoyances of life to racism, misogyny, class snobbery or religious fundamentalism. Many of us need to grow up, accept that not everyone likes us, and get on with our lives.

Posted by: Bizzarre | January 3, 2007 11:35 AM

I don't think that bringing up that blacks are racist too is a "discussion killer". In the NYT article, it is apparent that the black nannies are stereotyping and displaying prejudices against black families. Discussing this is not necessarily a bad thing--the other writers who brought it up did so to add to the discussion. Not as a way to end it by saying "look they are racist too so end the discussion". Racism is insidious and harmful no matter who displays it. It is worse when one group "hates" itself (for lack of a more eloquent term). Though I agree that the "institutional" racism may be more harmful--that the agencies not referring nannies to the families based on sterotypes, I think it is useful to look at the entire issue and discern why this is an issue for black families.

I'm actually impressed with the level of discussion today. Aside from a couple of snarky comments (and they were opinions that weren't particulary toxic), it's been a nice discussion.

Posted by: To Laura and originalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 11:36 AM

Do you realize that what you just wrote is in fact racist? DO you even get that? Let me take you through the steps of stereotyping. You say "well on average this is the way black people do something. Therefore, it is reasonable for people to assume that a certain, specific family that happens to be black, will also likely act in the same way."

That is text-book prejudice-- and there are alternatives! People can either either stop with the first step and stop considering what the "average" black family is like OR, if that is just too darn difficult to cut out of their thinking, at the second step they can say "Well even if the average black family does yadda, yadda, yadda I shouldn't assume that they will be like the typical black family. Every family is totally different and I should consider each on their own terms."

Posted by: to Bizzare | January 3, 2007 11:37 AM

Do you realize that what you just wrote is in fact racist? DO you even get that? Let me take you through the steps of stereotyping. You say "well on average this is the way black people do something. Therefore, it is reasonable for people to assume that a certain, specific family that happens to be black, will also likely act in the same way."

That is text-book prejudice-- and there are alternatives! People can either either stop with the first step and stop considering what the "average" black family is like OR, if that is just too darn difficult to cut out of their thinking, at the second step they can say "Well even if the average black family does yadda, yadda, yadda and I shouldn't assume that they will be like the typical black family. Every family is totally different and I should consider each on their own terms."

Posted by: to Bizzare | January 3, 2007 11:37 AM

Speaking of prejudice - would anyone here hire a manny? (male nanny?)

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 11:37 AM

Like you I admire Nancy Pelosi. I would even want to work for her. But, guess what? The demands of working for the speaker's office are not compatible with family/life balance.

Posted by: to mcewen from a "career girl" | January 3, 2007 11:38 AM

Bizzarre, Please go back and read the underlying article. I'm trying to be charitable and assume you haven't or you would know that the nannies quoted spoking in explicitly racial terms about prospective employers.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 11:39 AM

What I find interesting about this is that it is the AA nannies that will not work with AA families... is it a racial or cultural issue?

From my experience with daycares/preschools the majority of the teachers are AA in the school. Does this have any indication on the prefered mode of employment - families vs centers? Which pay better and provide better benefits?

Posted by: single mom | January 3, 2007 11:40 AM

Bizarre - can I ask your race? I'm white and I would have a hard time asking people of color to just get over it. I don't think that unless you have experienced racism you can really speak to how it feels and how important or unimportant it is. Just curious.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 11:41 AM

"I think the absurdity is your blind faith that market forces are always right."

Pseudo Milton,

Are you honestly telling me that an African-American woman who has to support herself as a nanny is going to interview with an African-American family that offers her more money, but take a job with an Anglo family that pays her less, because of her mistaken beliefs about African-Americans? (Remember, job listings don't generally specify race, so she had to see them to know they were African-American.) If you truly believe this is the simplest explanation, then I would suggest your Occam's Razor needs a bit of sharpening.

Posted by: Bizarre | January 3, 2007 11:42 AM

NC Lawyer,

Sorry about Wake Forest.

On the other hand, I did have a professor in the c.s.s. that I attended with an interesting name. He was Dr. Forrest Woods from the Piney Woods of East Texas!

Posted by: Fred | January 3, 2007 11:43 AM

"But when we turn the difficulty in finding a good nanny into a case of racism, we're trivializing the whole concept."

I heartily disagree. As others have pointed out, there are people in this article that express blatant racism. It demonstrates that it still exists and has an negative effect on black families. While agree with you in general that people tend to whine a bit much, in this case, the discussion is justified.

I agree with the writer above who said that the seemingly racist attitude of a certain DC nanny agency that won't send nanny candidates to PG is bad business hit the nail on the head! Stupid if you ask me. Lots of wealthy folks there so pretty stupid, eh?. I think you can extrapolate this to any other business and there are a number of examples of black folks who opened their own businesses and made a killing. Not a lot of prejudice where green is concerned.

Posted by: To Bizarre | January 3, 2007 11:43 AM

This is a really tough issue. Of course if a black nanny says that she won't work for black families because they "don't pay well and ask for extra work", then yes that is racist because she is generalizing about one race.
=============================================
OR MAYBE SHE IS USING HER PAST EXPERIENCE AS A GUIDE


?????????

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 11:45 AM

Re: Haircare "Is that a of a marker for a caregiver who understands a whole host of race-specific issues?

Absolutely, it is a marker. I won't get into all the cultural things that come along with hair, but in my experience, and I'm sure a lot of the black women on this blog can attest, a child with neat, well-kept hair is a reflection of good care.

I also would like to respond to people who say "Get over it." Trust me, we'd like to. The problem is that there are too many people in the majority who don't notice that racism exists, because it just doesn't affect them. For example, it should really bother the people who use the DC nanny agency that it doesn't serve Prince Georges County. But, the lack of service probably won't be a concern until the growing number of PGC whites need nannies.

I agree with whomever said this is a great opportunity for someone to start business that cater to middle-class people of color.

Posted by: jrobin | January 3, 2007 11:46 AM

"You say 'well on average this is the way black people do something. Therefore, it is reasonable for people to assume that a certain, specific family that happens to be black, will also likely act in the same way.'

to Bizarre:

In point of fact, I said no such thing. Read my posts - I never said or implied that ". . . on average this is the way black people do . . . "

If you want to talk, take the time to listen to what I actually say.

I do, in fact, assume that nannies (black, white, asian and martian, for that matter) look at job listings that show such things as wages, hours and number of kids - but not the race of the prospective employer. I also assume that they select several that look good to them, and go interview. Do you disagree?

If, at the end of the day, many African-American nannies pick white employers over African-American employers, it's not because they don't understand who pays better, or what the job requirements are. This idea that African-American nannies are blindly assuming that they'll make, for instance, $0.75 an hour less if they work for another African-American, and thus won't even consider it, is a crock.

Posted by: Bizarre | January 3, 2007 11:51 AM

I'm a racist, you're a racist, everyone is a racist.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 11:51 AM

Slavery was evil. Jim Crow was evil. But when we turn the difficulty in finding a good nanny into a case of racism, we're trivializing the whole concept. I am heartily sick of people whose first instinct is to attribute all the normal annoyances of life to racism, misogyny, class snobbery or religious fundamentalism. Many of us need to grow up, accept that not everyone likes us, and get on with our lives.
==============================================
AMEN.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 11:54 AM

"would anyone here hire a manny? (male nanny?)"

Yes, moxiemom, assuming we had the resources, we'd select the person who best met our criteria for caregiving. One of our criteria is that anyone caring for our kids is personally known to a friend or long-term work colleague of either my husband or myself. We are comfortable that limiting ourselves to caregivers with a positive track record with friends reduces the risk of lurking weirdos of either gender. As an aside, we believe that both of our kids benefit from seeing males, in addition to their dad and several uncles, in a caregiving role.

Our kids are school age. Perhaps those with younger kids, e.g., kids too young to understand good touch/bad touch and to communicate fully with their parents what goes on with babysitter A or B, might have a different perspective.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 3, 2007 11:55 AM

Well said, jrobin. It would be a great thing if such a business you described were to come into being.

Posted by: dirrtysw | January 3, 2007 11:56 AM

Mentioning Ockham, and then introducing an assumption about how most nannies find work - fantastic! No sir, my suggestion is that the hypothetical nanny in question would never go to the interview in the first place. Your inexperience in the mechanics of the nanny job market is clear.

Posted by: MF's ghost | January 3, 2007 11:58 AM

"It sounds like all of you career women should sit down and read the story of Nancy Pelosi, she stayed home and raised 5 children and didn't enter the workforce until she was 47 and look where she is today.You've got your priorities screwed up again girls"

This is a joke right? Sounds like this statement comes from an ignorant cave person with his/her head in the sand. Over 70% of mothers work. It's reality, get over it. And since it seems you don't know what you are talking about--nannies do not replace parents. They provide childcare while parents work. Would you suggest that a father wait until he is 47 years old to start his career. You really are an ignorant person.

Posted by: To mcewen | January 3, 2007 11:59 AM

Once again the POST highlights the concerns of rich people. Don't you guys realize that poor people can read, too?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 12:00 PM

Am I the only one having trouble posting today?

Re the earlier comment directed at Laura and me, it's one thing to have a discussion about self-racism. It's another to immediately come out with, "well blacks are racist too" and add nothing else to the conversation. Such an action doesn't further the conversation but attempts to stop it or attempts to dismiss the previous views made.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 12:00 PM

"Bizarre - can I ask your race?"

No - and I'll tell you why. In my opinion, we've gotten so hung up over race that we no longer actually listen to what people say, but respond to who they are instead. How else can you explain people asking if Barak Obama is a genuine "African-American?" Or this whole concept of being "black enough?" I may be an idiot, but I'm honestly trying to respond to what people are actually saying (that's one of the beauties of this medium - you have to address what's said, because you don't know who's saying it).

There are people who don't like me, don't trust me, and assume all sorts of bad things about me due to where I grew up, my age, and the color of my skin. (Of course, other people like me, trust me, and assume good things about me - they tend to be the ones with similar backgrounds, ages and skin colors.) At times this has hurt me; at other times it has helped me.

Blessedly, I've never been seriously harmed. But I can tell the difference between serious harm and the incidental friction between people. I would never tell someone to just "get over" serious prejudice. But telling them to get over, for instance, a nanny taking another job because it paid more or she liked the people better - in a heartbeat. If you don't let that sort of thing go, you're just gonna make yourself miserable (and have no one to blame but yourself).

Posted by: Bizarre | January 3, 2007 12:02 PM

"OR MAYBE SHE IS USING HER PAST EXPERIENCE AS A GUIDE
?????????"

So, a white worker at Starbucks was mean to me today so that means I won't go to Starbucks with white workers because they are all mean. Pretty stupid argument. Indicting a whole race for one or two past experiences is ignorant and racist.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 12:03 PM

"No sir, my suggestion is that the hypothetical nanny in question would never go to the interview in the first place."

Why - because you assume the ad she reads in the paper says "African-American family seeking nanny to . . ."? For real?

Posted by: Bizarre | January 3, 2007 12:04 PM

I echo Wow's caution to read the article. You need to read the facts -- presented by an objective reporter -- to see that clearly, racism is the primary issue here.

Also want to echo Armchair Mom's point about the 'larger' issues. Hiring any childcare provider is difficult, heartwrenching, and an act of faith in other human beings.

When it works, it is exhiliarating and wonderful to find someone who cares for your child(ren)with respect, kindness and love. That's what makes this so hard -- to have to confront racism and all its ugliness in a process that is already difficult.

These issues apply no matter your income status or the kind of childcare you're looking for. Even when it's your mom or close friend who is caring for your kids it's hard to hand them over and cross your fingers that everything will be okay while you are gone.

It is GOOD for kids to trust other people besides you -- they have to at some point, right? But it's part of your job as a parent to make sure the people you trust are trustworthy. It's a minefield even under good circumstances.

Posted by: Leslie | January 3, 2007 12:06 PM

" Indicting a whole race for one or two past experiences is ignorant and racist."

Good point. That would be bad statistical analysis. What would be a valid sample size? When papers like the Washington Post do polling, what do they use - five or six hundred? When does it stop being "ignorant" and start becoming "playing the odds?"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 12:07 PM

Moxiemom, I would definitely hire a manny if he had the qualifications I required, and the rest of the family liked him. Remember the really sweet one on "Friends"? I'd enjoy having a manny/nanny who is that attentive and focused.

I have another, sort of off-topic question. What does everyone here think are the preferences of nannies concerning mixed-race couples? Black/white, Latino/black, Asian/white, etc.? Do you think there are similar problems if one half of the couple is black, or if one half is Latino, or simply because of prejudices against mixed-race couples in general? I'm just personally curious to see what everyone here thinks.

Posted by: Mona | January 3, 2007 12:13 PM

Moxiemom, I would definitely hire a manny if he had the qualifications I required, and the rest of the family liked him. Remember the really sweet one on "Friends"? I'd enjoy having a manny/nanny who is that attentive and focused.

I have another, sort of off-topic question. What does everyone here think are the preferences of nannies concerning mixed-race couples? Black/white, Latino/black, Asian/white, etc.? Do you think there are similar problems if one half of the couple is black, or if one half is Latino, or simply because of prejudices against mixed-race couples in general? I'm just personally curious to see what everyone here thinks.

Posted by: Mona | January 3, 2007 12:16 PM

Bizarre, I think the whole point of the article is that these nannies aren't choosing certain employers because they pay more or they like them better, but rather because they make negative assumptions about African American families because of their race. They backed up that claim with anecdotal and statistical evidence. You can choose to argue that this is not the case and thats fine, but I think it's unfair to just assume that in terms of race, black people have chips on their shoulder and are constantly accusing people of being racist.

Posted by: Wow | January 3, 2007 12:16 PM

Sorry about the double post! What's up with WaPo today?

Posted by: Mona | January 3, 2007 12:17 PM

NIce to hear NC Lawyer - I have a neighbor who is sooo freaked out that she will not EVER have a male babysitter - so instead of using the nephew of a neighbor who we know and is 20 - she will use a college student that she knows nothing about or a 13 year old girl. I kind of felt she was being short sighted and I too love that my children see another man in their life who nurtures them besides daddy.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 12:17 PM

would hire a manny for a son and not a daughter... sorry read to many articles about abuse. could be a wrong, but that is my gut reaction.

Posted by: single mom | January 3, 2007 12:23 PM

Mentioning Ockham, and then introducing an assumption about how most nannies find work - fantastic! No sir, my suggestion is that the hypothetical nanny in question would never go to the interview in the first place. Your inexperience in the mechanics of the nanny job market is clear.

Posted by: MF's ghost | January 3, 2007 12:27 PM

Single Mom-

You are a real airhead! Boys are sexually abused all the time.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 12:28 PM

I am always amazed at people who assume racism no longer exists - yeah, we passed a couple of laws and it went away.

I think people can tell the difference between the friction of daily life and prejudice. And the thing about racism is that it is so insidous (sp?). Its not the one store in which you get followed, its the 129th.

As a teenager, I went to the beach for a week with a group of friends, one of whom was black. She got stares, comments, reactions from people, rude service. I never noticed it until she pointed it out and then I saw it, again and again. I never noticed it because I'd never experienced it, I never had to. She lived it everyday.

I'd never tell someone to "get over" something I didnt have to live with.

Posted by: jessker15 | January 3, 2007 12:28 PM

OR MAYBE SHE IS USING HER PAST EXPERIENCE AS A GUIDE

Do not say or write or type "past experience" as all experience is in the past. Using the words "past experience" together is redundant.

Posted by: Grammar Police | January 3, 2007 12:32 PM

What if I am experiencing annoyance right now? It's not in the past, it is in the present.

Posted by: to grammar police | January 3, 2007 12:36 PM

"Do not say or write or type "past experience" as all experience is in the past. Using the words "past experience" together is redundant."

Your second sentence there is redundant.

Posted by: grammar police internal investigations unit | January 3, 2007 12:39 PM

Hi Mona - happy new year - glad to see you back. Also anon at 12:28 - you could have made your point to Single mom a little more credibly if you didn't call her names. She didn't deserve that.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 12:40 PM

If its rasism you want to talk about, look at what the scream queens of the womens movement have done to loving caring fathers and children, black or white, at the time of divorce, now thats real gender rasism. The idiotic morons who run the court system in this country TAKE THE CHILDREN AWAY FROM THE FATHER.

Posted by: mcewen | January 3, 2007 12:42 PM

If its rasism you want to talk about, look at what the scream queens of the womens movement have done to loving caring fathers and children, black or white, at the time of divorce, now thats real gender rasism. The idiotic morons who run the court system in this country TAKE THE CHILDREN AWAY FROM THE FATHER.

Posted by: mcewen | January 3, 2007 12:43 PM

Hey! Find your own nickname!

I did not post that. As I have said more than once, I do not correct posters--only the official blog writers.

Posted by: The Real Grammar Police | January 3, 2007 12:48 PM

to grammar police internal investigations unit.

Yes, I know but people who unconsciously use phrases such as "past experience", "very latest" and "very unique" need heavy duty reinforcement.

"What if I am experiencing annoyance right now? It's not in the past, it is in the present."

This is also a proper usage. The word experience can indicate some current action or one or several in the past.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/experience

Posted by: Grammar Police | January 3, 2007 12:50 PM

What if I am experiencing annoyance right now? It's not in the past, it is in the present.

I LOVE IT.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 12:51 PM

Sorry, The Real Grammar Police.

I will make up a new name. Grammar Sheriff? Grammar Gendarme? The unofficial grammar police? Not the grammar police?

Posted by: Not the Real Grammar Police | January 3, 2007 12:57 PM

mcewen,
You need serious help. See a shrink or something. If not for you, do it for your kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 12:58 PM

jessker15, I agree with you. It's tough enough to be in a minority, but then to have people treat you badly or assume things about you because of it every minute of the day is hard. I wish that people who think these things are not racist could live as a black person for one day. That would open up their eyes.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 12:58 PM

Interest in this topic was obviously exhausted a few minutes after the topic was first posted.......

Has anyone seen the film "Children Of Men"?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 1:00 PM

"would hire a manny for a son and not a daughter... sorry read to many articles about abuse."

single mom -- I'm not trying to be snarky, but if you have concluded that your daughter might be at risk of sexual abuse from a manny, but not your son, are you assuming that all guys are heterosexual? I honestly cannot recall ever reading a news article about a 17 - 20 year old guy sexually abusing a 2 year old female child under his care. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 1:04 PM

Regarding the specifics of the nanny job market, for an au pair you have to submit an application that includes pictures of the parents and the kids and then the au pair can read the application and decide whether or not to interview for the position. Clearly, she'd know your race from the pictures. And many au pairs these days come from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, which are not exactly bastions of multiracial tolerance.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | January 3, 2007 1:14 PM

thanks, Armchair Mom, that's helpful. Most of the au pairs I encountered in the D.C. area were from the midwest -- lots of small town Kansans and Oklahomans. Clearly, my circle was not representative.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 3, 2007 1:17 PM

moxiemom, my husband and I once hired a male nanny, the reaction from friends/peers were quite judgemental. I had to constantly explained my reasoning. Additionally, I am as well a woman of color, I don't much care or give much thoughts to white and black racist- I'm too busy trying to figure out how to have a fabulous life. If somebody judges me wrongly becasue of my appearance, well, I rather they loose sleep over it instead of me. The obstacle that I'm trying to come to term with is, is getting older, and finding the courage to allow myself to do it gracefully and not given in to the urge of going under knife. I'll make it, but it'll take a lot of energy.

Posted by: interesting | January 3, 2007 1:23 PM

I've been gone for awhile, taking care of work (don't worry, I don't have any children, lol!).

I'm still reading some posts from a couple of hours ago, but I can see that there are a few terms that are being used interchangeably and they are not synonomous. "Prejudice," (derived from the prefix "pre" and the word "judge") means to judge or assess someone w/o any real information on them. This is something we all do; it is not the same as "racism" (the ability to negatively impact the day to day life of an individual or group of people based on ethnic background), which is also distinct from "bigotry" (the dislike of an individual based on their ethnic background). Some argue that people of color cannot be racist b/c we don't control the means of production or distribution (unless we are committing a hate crime, for example), however that is an entirely different discussion.

When a nanny agency does not service PG county, they are being racist. When a nanny doesn't want to work for a black family (whether or not the nanny is herself black), she is being bigoted. Some would argue that I am splitting hairs, but it is very important that we understand the distinctions. Words are powerful when used appropriately, or inappropriately.

Posted by: triviagal | January 3, 2007 1:24 PM

Fred,

To think the Deacs were ahead in the fourth quarter and folded like a cheap deck of cards. Sheesh. Moving on. Go LSU Tigers! Is the line still 9 1/2?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 3, 2007 1:27 PM

"You can choose to argue that this is not the case and thats fine, but I think it's unfair to just assume that in terms of race, black people have chips on their shoulder and are constantly accusing people of being racist. "

When did I say that "black people have chips on their shoulder" or are "constantly accusing people of being racist"? This strikes me as a pretty blatant instance of basically pretty well-off people crying racism over one of the normal problems of life, but I never suggested that it was typical of all African-Americans, or that every charge of racism was invalid.

Posted by: Bizarre | January 3, 2007 1:32 PM

"And many au pairs these days come from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, which are not exactly bastions of multiracial tolerance."

And this is NOT an example of prejudice? or at least gross generalizations?

Posted by: from Eastern Europe | January 3, 2007 1:33 PM

I think, as a white person, that saying "Black people are racist too" is important. Because every day of MY life, I'm constantly being accused of keeping the black man down. Yes, there are white people in this world who are given things because they are white. But as a white female from the middle class, who went to public school and whose parents did not go to college, I can honestly ask you, what did I ever do to the black race? I think it is important, and healing, to note that we're not all bad.

Posted by: bexie | January 3, 2007 1:33 PM

NC Lawyer,

I am not a "point spread" man. I just want to see the score straight up.

I do hope LSU does win as my boss, who went to LSU and has 2 sons there now, promised me a 1/2 day off on Friday if LSU prevails!

Posted by: Fred | January 3, 2007 1:33 PM

I think, as a white person, that saying "Black people are racist too" is important. Because every day of MY life, I'm constantly being accused of keeping the black man down. Yes, there are white people in this world who are given things because they are white. But as a white female from the middle class, who went to public school and whose parents did not go to college, I can honestly ask you, what did I ever do to the black race? I think it is important, and healing, to note that we're not all bad.

Posted by: bexie | January 3, 2007 1:34 PM

"And many au pairs these days come from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, which are not exactly bastions of multiracial tolerance."

And this is NOT an example of prejudice? or at least gross generalizations?

Posted by: from Eastern Europe | January 3, 2007 1:35 PM

Fred,

That's the best reason I've heard for favoring a particular outcome in any Bowl game. Not only do I hope the Tigers prevail, as they should, but I wish for you good weather on the 5th.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 3, 2007 1:36 PM

"No sir, my suggestion is that the hypothetical nanny in question would never go to the interview in the first place."

Again - why? Are you assuming that all of these African-American families (or even the majority of them) are telegraphing their race in their job advertisements? Do you really believe this?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 1:37 PM

to triviagal

The Sheriff very much appreciates your lesson of the words prejudice, bigot and racist!

Posted by: Grammar Sheriff | January 3, 2007 1:37 PM

Bexie - I too am a middle class white woman. However, I cannot recall anyone ever accusing me of "keeping the black man down" nor can I ever recall the idea that I was a privileged white person keep me from getting an opportunity professionally or personally. While I find the blanket idea that whites are responsible for "keeping the black man down" to be distasteful and untrue, I don't think that it impacts my existance to the same extent that racism in this country affects people of color.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 1:38 PM

bexie,

So to counter daily accusations that you, personally, keep the black man down, your response is, "Black people are racist too"? And such a statement is important to you? How so? What does such a response accomplish for you? Please explain.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 1:39 PM

"I am always amazed at people who assume racism no longer exists - yeah, we passed a couple of laws and it went away."

No one said "we passed a couple of laws and it went away." But jeez - we did this in the 1960's, before something like half the readers of the WaPo were born! Do you remember the 60's? Our society has changed dramatically since then. Did all racism go away? No - but we don't have Jim Crow laws any more. We don't lynch people any more. We don't think racism is a joke any more, or treat it as socially acceptable.

Is the world perfect? No. Of course, it's not perfect for anyone (black, asian, latino, gay, evangelical, old, poor, etc.)

I wish all these people who say "I wish some of you could be black for a while" could be something OTHER THAN black for a while - just to see how much of the ordinary, everyday manure everyone else in the world puts up with too.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 1:43 PM

"And many au pairs these days come from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, which are not exactly bastions of multiracial tolerance."

Armchair Mom, isn't this a prejudicial statement in itself? One cannot assume that just because someone comes from a certain part of the world that they will automatically be racist any more than one can assume that someone from a certain part of the world will pay low wages/mistreat their employees/etc.

"When a nanny agency does not service PG county, they are being racist."

Triviagal, welcome to the board, but I have to ask: how so? There are LOTS of races in PG county. Maybe as a white woman, I was in the minority in my city when I lived there, but I see LOTS of representation for my race and many others in PG county as a whole. How can one be racist against a place? Okay, maybe I'm grasping at straws and playing the semantics game, so I'll be direct because I'm not trying to be snarky. What race(s) was the agency being racist against IN PG county?

Moxiemom, thanks for the welcome back! How was your holiday? Hope everyone here had a great New Year's.

Posted by: Mona | January 3, 2007 1:43 PM

The problems of today will never be solved by constantly looking backwards, blaming, and making assumptions without cause. Perhaps the solution to the problem is to withold judgement, and be forward looking and thinking. This type of hostility and "I'm right, you're wrong" thinking serves no purpose. I don't think the leaders of the civil rights movement would be pleased.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 1:45 PM

"So to counter daily accusations that you, personally, keep the black man down, your response is, "Black people are racist too"? And such a statement is important to you? How so? What does such a response accomplish for you? Please explain."

I don't know about bexie, but it seems a great way to make the point that charging her with "keeping the black man down" is as ludicrous as charging the idiot saying it with "keeping the white woman down."

Directing that sort of overheated rhetoric against someone just because they are white is offensive and, I would suggest, as racist as anything a white person might say about African-Americans.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 1:48 PM

First of all, off topic, I want to say that I absolutely hate when people say "ethnic" or "people of color". As far as I know, we all have an ethnicity and a color.

I guess my point is that, in my experience, black people are so often willing to act like victims. Yes, racism still exists - but it exists in ALL DIRECTIONS. Having gone to public schools and therefore having been in a (forced) race-balanced situation, I can absolutely say I have been directly accused of keeping the black man down, as well as having experienced racism from blacks. So by pointing out that we're all racist, it evens the field, in a sick sort of way, makes us all a little bit more the same.

I also find it interesting that moxiemom wrote about being a "privelaged white person". Are you defining privelage as being white, or are you referring to something else (I'm not asking to be snarky, I really am trying to get something out of this conversation).

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 1:49 PM

First of all, off topic, I want to say that I absolutely hate when people say "ethnic" or "people of color". As far as I know, we all have an ethnicity and a color.

I guess my point is that, in my experience, black people are so often willing to act like victims. Yes, racism still exists - but it exists in ALL DIRECTIONS. Having gone to public schools and therefore having been in a (forced) race-balanced situation, I can absolutely say I have been directly accused of keeping the black man down, as well as having experienced racism from blacks. So by pointing out that we're all racist, it evens the field, in a sick sort of way, makes us all a little bit more the same.

I also find it interesting that moxiemom wrote about being a "privelaged white person". Are you defining privelage as being white, or are you referring to something else (I'm not asking to be snarky, I really am trying to get something out of this conversation).

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 1:50 PM

First of all, off topic, I want to say that I absolutely hate when people say "ethnic" or "people of color". As far as I know, we all have an ethnicity and a color.

I guess my point is that, in my experience, black people are so often willing to act like victims. Yes, racism still exists - but it exists in ALL DIRECTIONS. Having gone to public schools and therefore having been in a (forced) race-balanced situation, I can absolutely say I have been directly accused of keeping the black man down, as well as having experienced racism from blacks. So by pointing out that we're all racist, it evens the field, in a sick sort of way, makes us all a little bit more the same.

I also find it interesting that moxiemom wrote about being a "privelaged white person". Are you defining privelage as being white, or are you referring to something else (I'm not asking to be snarky, I really am trying to get something out of this conversation).

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 1:51 PM

First of all, off topic, I want to say that I absolutely hate when people say "ethnic" or "people of color". As far as I know, we all have an ethnicity and a color.

I guess my point is that, in my experience, black people are so often willing to act like victims. Yes, racism still exists - but it exists in ALL DIRECTIONS. Having gone to public schools and therefore having been in a (forced) race-balanced situation, I can absolutely say I have been directly accused of keeping the black man down, as well as having experienced racism from blacks. So by pointing out that we're all racist, it evens the field, in a sick sort of way, makes us all a little bit more the same.

I also find it interesting that moxiemom wrote about being a "privelaged white person". Are you defining privelage as being white, or are you referring to something else (I'm not asking to be snarky, I really am trying to get something out of this conversation).

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 1:51 PM

Bexie

"Because every day of MY life, I'm constantly being accused of keeping the black man down."

Wow, every day!! How is this being done?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 1:52 PM

"I don't think the leaders of the civil rights movement would be pleased."

Unfortunately, too many of the ones who have survived (like Sharpton and Jackson) have sold out and turned the movement into an industry.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 1:52 PM

Ack! Sorry for the triple post!

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 1:52 PM

1:52 anon poster - the same way everyone else experiences racism on a daily basis.

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 1:54 PM

It always annoys me when people tell other people to "get over" their experience of racism.

It's like a man telling a woman to "get over" her fear of walking alone at night or her uneasiness at being alone in an elevator with a man giving off weird vibes.

Men just don't experience the world like women do (and vice versa), just like whites don't experience the world like blacks do.

I would also argue that economic and education status stratify people in this country, both minority and white. Who would I have an easier time "connecting" with? An educated, middle class black woman or a poor, uneducated white woman?

As an educated white middle class woman, I think it would be the educated black middle class woman. Education and similar "economic" status can provide a strong, shared background too.

I admit, I sometimes feel uneasy and worried about appearing pompous around my relatives who are not college educated and are not as well off financially. Also with a sitter like that as well (she didn't last long for other reasons).


Posted by: Rebecca | January 3, 2007 1:54 PM

To Bizarre:

I have no fear in identifying who I am. I am an African American working mother of two children in daycare. I have read many of the comments, including yours, which have displayed an utter lack of appreciation for the historical, cultural and racial issues that the NYTimes article highlights. Some of the mothers and fathers who were profiled were denied equal access to a form of childcare simply because of their race. In Maryland, where I live, state regulations prohibit state licensed childcare providers from engaging in the very discrimination that these nannies/child care agencies engaged in. That said, good child care for working parents is a basic, human need - the issues discussed are not "trivial" and unequal access to childcare is not a "normal annoyance" (maybe if there was a big sign with "WHITES ONLY" plastered like they did at bathrooms and waterfountains in the old days, you'd get it) I only hope that other people have gained some insight by reading about the blatant prejudice that these families face and know that in 2006 and 2007, racism (even couched as "past experience" ) is alive and well . . .

Posted by: AAmomof2 | January 3, 2007 1:55 PM

Does anyone know if there is anywhere you can get the NY times article without having to pay $5 for it? (I'm not cheap, I seriously don't have $5 to pay for this article).

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 1:58 PM

Do you have to pay for it? I just registered for free and can read all NYTimes articles.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 1:59 PM

"I admit, I sometimes feel uneasy and worried about appearing pompous around my relatives who are not college educated and are not as well off financially."

Oof, Rebecca, I get that too. I wonder if it's harder for non-whites than it is for you and me? I have actually considered avoiding a professional degree just to keep from widening the chasm between them and me; I wonder if people of other races have too.

Posted by: Mona | January 3, 2007 2:01 PM

"By the way jokesters, Nannies are not only for the rich, I know a slightly upper middle class family with 5 kids who has an immigrant nanny rather than spend $5k per month on daycare."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/04/asia_pac_filipino_nanny/html/3.stm

"...I also employ a helper. It's so ironic that I take care of another child here [in Hong Kong], while somebody else is taking care of my children back home [in the Philippines]..."

"Triviagal - remember the morons are not going to stop breeding - you might want to have a child just to make sure they don't outnumber us."

OTOH, Triviagal may be concerned that she wouldn't raise a child well enough (I can relate to that - I wouldn't be a good mom either). Having a child to stop the morons from outnumbering us doesn't work if that child is raised poorly enough to become one of the morons!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:02 PM

foamgnome - did you use the link up above? I clicked on the link in this article, and even though I am registered with NY Times, it is demanding I pay.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:02 PM

I'm having a real hard time here with people saying "you just don't understand." Frankly, what you're calling "blatant" and "obvious" appears neither when seen from the outside - especially when it's black on black. Especially when I can sit here and say, in all honestly, "yeah, that's happened to me, too" - and I'm not even black!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:02 PM

"Again - why? Are you assuming that all of these African-American families (or even the majority of them) are telegraphing their race in their job advertisements? Do you really believe this?"

to anon at 1:37. The majority of families seeking nannies identify the location of the job, and if that information indicates that the job is in a predominately African-American area, certain applicants surmise that the family is African-American and reject the opportunity to interview. For ease of reference, let's call this behavior "Nanny Redlining". Sure, one explanation is geographical convenience. A nanny living in Falls Church may not want to schlep to PG County. However, it's naive to ignore the other likely explanation, that prospective nannies' choices of interview opportunities are highly influenced by perceived prestige and that some nannies may believe that there's more prestige in working for an affluent white family than there is in working for an affluent African-American family. The nanny marketplace, like high-end retail and other high-end service markets, turns on prestige more than pay rate. It's significantly more prestigious to work for a family who lives in Potomac (and playing the odds is likely white) than to work for a family who lives in PG County (similarly, the odds are that the family is African-American). When that nanny goes on to apply for subsequent positions, her reference from that family living in Potomac likely will carry more weight with the next family than the reference from the family living in PG County, as well. For comparison, in the retail context, both management and sales professionals prefer to work for Neimans at a lower pay rate than for Sears at a higher pay rate. That Neimans reference on the resume will lend lasting cache. The Sears reference lends the opposite.

Paying 10 - 20% over market may lure some additional applicants, but not many, and why the heck should African-Americans have to pay more for the same childcare services then everyone else? or do you recommend that they should move to lily-white neighborhoods to avoid Nanny Red-lining?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:02 PM

I, too, would like to hear bexie's response on this. Although she may not be personally responsible for racism, she can benefit from it in numerous ways. It's called the granting of white privilege -- a subtle form of prejudice that gives a person an advantage because that person is white.

Posted by: dirrtysw | January 3, 2007 2:03 PM

I'm having a real hard time here with people saying "you just don't understand." Frankly, what you're calling "blatant" and "obvious" appears neither when seen from the outside - especially when it's black on black. Especially when I can sit here and say, in all honestly, "yeah, that's happened to me, too" - and I'm not even black!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:04 PM

I think you click on to the second link. follow up discussion, then click related article and I think the article pops up if you are registered with NY times. It may ask you to log in to NYTimes. I hate that some of these links are not to the article directly.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 2:04 PM

I don't know about bexie, but it seems a great way to make the point that charging her with "keeping the black man down" is as ludicrous as charging the idiot saying it with "keeping the white woman down."

No, a great way to make the point is to say, "No, I am not keeping you down. That's ludicrous." If you just respond that blacks are also racist, you get into tit-for-tat. No (productive) conversation will be going on there.

bexie, thanks for your response. I've experienced racism in public and private school, college, graduate school, and, to a lesser degree, in law school. I'm no one's victim, and I don't know many black people who are quick to cry victim. We all just want to live our lives without a bunch of racial drama.

Here's another question: How was your statement evening the playing field? To minimize any guilt, intimidation or resentment you were feeling? Did it make you feel any better?

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 2:06 PM

"I, too, would like to hear bexie's response on this. Although she may not be personally responsible for racism, she can benefit from it in numerous ways. It's called the granting of white privilege -- a subtle form of prejudice that gives a person an advantage because that person is white. "

Okay, people - that's enough for me. We're now blaming people for stuff they never did. If that's not a recipe for fostering hate, I don't know what is.

Good night . . . good luck . . . here's hoping you grow up and learn to play nice someday

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:07 PM

I would again ask Bizarre to read the article which documents many cases of nannies discriminating against African American clients due to the negative impressions they have of black people and explain to me how and why this is yet another example of people crying wolf.

I think that one thing we can all agree on is that NO one is as oppressed as poor poor Bexie. I sympathize with you. I can't seem to go anywhere without random black people jumping out and accusing me of holding them back. I don't go anywhere without an ipod and some running shoes just in case I get chased by an angry mob (LA riots anyone?).

Posted by: Wow | January 3, 2007 2:09 PM

"No, a great way to make the point is to say, "No, I am not keeping you down. That's ludicrous." If you just respond that blacks are also racist, you get into tit-for-tat. No (productive) conversation will be going on there."

Sorry, but that's just ANOTHER great way to make the point - not the only one. Or do you really want to eliminate sarcasm as a legitimate form of communication? (And if so, just what percentage of this blog would you toss out?)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:10 PM

Hey, thanks, Wow! Your last comment provides a great example of just how important sarcasm is to this blog.

"I think that one thing we can all agree on is that NO one is as oppressed as poor poor Bexie. I sympathize with you. I can't seem to go anywhere without random black people jumping out and accusing me of holding them back. I don't go anywhere without an ipod and some running shoes just in case I get chased by an angry mob (LA riots anyone?)."

(Or was that snark - I'm so easily confused)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:13 PM

dirrtysw - what did you want to see my response on? (Again, not trying to be snarky, sometimes it's hard to tell what people are referring to). Were you talking about white privelage? I'm not denying that it exists. I am denying that I have ever KNOWINGLY directly benefitted from it. I went to public schools, I went to a public university (where I was DENIED scholarships based on my race, and now have $54k in student loans to show for it, and currently pay a ridiculous $510 per month on these loans for the next 15 years when I only take home $1400 a month... but I do admit that is a WHOLE other topic). I think it is important to note that white privelage does NOT apply to everyone. We've all heard of white trash, haven't we? But the white privelage is just as bad as the opposite of this article - black people who will only associate (privately, in commerce) with people who are also black. In order to grow, we need to understand this topic from all points of view. Maybe you hate me because of the things I've posted, but I'm real, I'm out in the world, and I'm part of the problem as well.

theoriginalmomof2 - I really am honestly trying to get something out of this article and these posts. I do not feel "better" or worse about anything. You may not like what I say, but at least I'm trying to hear people out, and be honest with myself. I don't know what I said that was so offensive to you.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:18 PM

wow - I'm hardly calling myself a victim here. I'm just pointing out everyday parts of my life, just like everyone else. Oh, and it must be nice to own an ipod. And running shoes. I guess my check for just being white got lost in the mail.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:21 PM

Wow went there! I had to laugh at that.

No offense to bexie, but:

Imagine a video game with a white person walking along, with the goal of dodging various black people jumping out (of bushes, no less), pointing a finger and yelling, "You're keeping me down!" Bonus points if the white person/player can yell back, "You're racist too!" The white persons would lose points if they automatically think they are getting robbed.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 2:22 PM

Ack sorry, I keep forgetting to put my name

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 2:22 PM

Bexie-did you get to read the article? Did my instructions help?
1) click follow up link
2) click related article
3) log on to NYTimes
4) read article

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 2:26 PM

There is one basic point that people should agree on. That is that all races discriminate equally. What that means is that blacks are just as racist as whites, and all races are just as racist as whites and blacks. The difference in racism is because the white population is still over 50% and the black population is about 12%, the white population racism will affect a black person more times because there are more whites than blacks, not because any one race is more hospital to the other. And if black nannies are refusing to go to black couples how is that racism? Ignorance maybe, but not racism.

Posted by: Niceday | January 3, 2007 2:27 PM

"By the way jokesters, Nannies are not only for the rich, I know a slightly upper middle class family with 5 kids who has an immigrant nanny rather than spend $5k per month on daycare."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/04/asia_pac_filipino_nanny/html/3.stm

"...I also employ a helper. It's so ironic that I take care of another child here [in Hong Kong], while somebody else is taking care of my children back home [in the Philippines]..."

"Triviagal - remember the morons are not going to stop breeding - you might want to have a child just to make sure they don't outnumber us."

OTOH, Triviagal may be concerned that she wouldn't raise a child well enough (I can relate to that - I wouldn't be a good mom either). Having a child to stop the morons from outnumbering us doesn't work if that child is raised poorly enough to become one of the morons!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:27 PM

"For ease of reference, let's call this behavior "Nanny Redlining"."

Sure - I can imagine how this might work. But remember, we were talking about African-American nannies avoiding African-American employers. Do we really think that nannies in PG County are, on a blanket basis, ignoring PG County listings in favor of Montgomery County ones? And if so - do we think it's based on race, or income?

Look, I don't know where African-American nannies got their ideas about other African-Americans - especially potential employers (I also doubt that they are as uniform as the article seems to suggest). It may have been from prior experience, and the experiences of other nannies - or it may have been from somewhere else. We don't really know - and it's dangerous to spin out too much racial theory without knowing.

If you show me that employers are refusing to hire African-American nannies because of race, then I'll be outraged. If you show me that licensed daycare centers are refusing to take African-American children because of race, then I'll be outraged. But I'm having a hard time getting upset because some African-American nannies take jobs with white families rather than black families, and say they make more money for less work that way. This is way down my list of "Serious Social Problems Facing America."

Posted by: Bizarre | January 3, 2007 2:30 PM

to anon at 2:13, to each his own, but your point might be better heard if you had the minimum amount of courage it takes to come up with a moniker instead of posting anonymously, unless, of course, you simply suffer from C.R.S. syndrome. Over time, posting with a name of any sort greatly assists the rest of us in distinguishing between snark and sarcasm on a poster-by-poster basis.

Mona, gotta disagree with you on your response to triviagal. Maybe this shows my age, but if you lived in the DC area for awhile, the majority of residents recall incident after incident of violent black-on-black crime in PG county. Of course, most of those incidents occurred right across the DC border and were not distributed throughout the county, but there it is. Even though many affluent developments have been constructed over the last 10 - 15 years, and many middle and upper middle class African Americans have left the district for PG County in the same time frame, memories and impressions linger on. In this as in many instances, perceptions lag behind reality. Over time, if you listen to the explanations that (particularly retail and service) businesses offer when they ignore possible new business outlets or offices in PG County and open outlets or offices in Prince William or other counties with lower average household income, you tend to smell the whiff of barely disguised racial prejudice.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 3, 2007 2:30 PM

foamgnome - yes, that worked, and I'm in the process of reading it. Thanks!

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 2:30 PM

Bex - I say privileged white person because: I was born into a two parent, well educated, nurturing, middle class family AND I'm white which has certain inherent benefits in this society whether I seek them or not. Hope that clarifies things. I certainly haven't experienced a whole lot of unfairness in life which is why I'm loathe to dimish anyone else's experience that was my point.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 3, 2007 2:34 PM

I have experienced harassment/hostility from black people (went to public schools too, not that is a pre-requisite) not in school (and my school was 90% black) but in the neighborhood/on the bus, even got jumped once. But at the end of the day it was a situation I could walk away from, not one I have to deal with every day wherever I go for the rest of my life, like my friend did. What I did not allow it to do is make me racist in return. In other words, what I experienced was annoying, even frightening, but it hasnt affected my life the way I think prejudice against black people (or hispanic or asian) affects theirs. The difference is where the balance of power lies, unfortunately.

And I know the laws were passed in the 60's, but do you really think the succeeding generations are free of racism? My 9 year old told me last week that his friend told him "The hispanics are trying to take over the US" and "There were these guys on tv killing over xboxes and they were all black, so if we buy an xbox a black guy might shoot us."

Posted by: jessker16 | January 3, 2007 2:35 PM

"I guess my check for just being white got lost in the mail."

It must've, along with your violin.

Ok, I will stop because I do think you need to get over yourself, but I don't want to be mean. In all seriousness, claiming that racism still exists in the world does not mean that you are claiming all white people are privileged and/or that all black people are oppressed. It seems that a lot of time people take it so personally as though someone is arguing that they are a cross burning klan member. That defensiveness makes it a lot harder to have a meaningful discussion. White people have no reason to feel guilty about the sins of the past,but that doesn't mean we should stick our heads in the past when it comes to the current ramifications of that history. We don't win any moral ground back by screaming "black people racist too", anymore than a child does when they claim "he hit me first". It just doesn't matter. I just make a personal commitment to honesty, openness, and equality.

Posted by: Wow | January 3, 2007 2:39 PM

I, too, would like to hear bexie's response on this. Although she may not be personally responsible for racism, she can benefit from it in numerous ways. It's called the granting of white privilege -- a subtle form of prejudice that gives a person an advantage because that person is white.

This is such a tired argument.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:39 PM

Moxiemom - (again NOT trying to be rude) don't you find it interesting that you assume because I'm white I have the same upbringing you had? You say you're not trying to diminish anyone else's experience, but when I mention that I as a white person have experienced racism, I get berated?

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 2:40 PM

I've been gone awhile (again). I'm not done catching up, but I see Mona asked me a question directly and so I shall respond. I could be wrong, but I don't think you read the article; it specifically said that one particular nanny agency in the DC area did not service PG county b/c the nannies they employed preferred not to work for black families. From my understanding (I do not reside in DC area), PG county has the highest per capita income for black families in the US. Therefore, the likelihood is quite high that a nanny referred to that county would be employed by a black family. And since the agency did not provide nannies to said County b/c of its racial make-up, that sounds racist to me; but I could be wrong.

I also wanted to address Bexie: by assuming that people are referring to you directly, you are making the argument about yourself and showing your ignorance (as in lack of knowledge) of the history of race in America. Surely you cannot deny that there is a privilege that comes with being Caucasian in America, as in, there is a strong likelihood that you will not be tailed in Nordstrom's by security. Recently, a survey in the NYC area found that white employers would rather higher a white man who had spent time in prison over a black man w/ a college degree. Now I don't think that you, Bexie, had a nickel in that survey. However, you can see how being white can give an individual a leg up and help contribute to a black person feeling as though they may not have a shot at that job.

Please note, that I am not in any way suggesting that black people should just give up; I'm just pointing out some realities that we face daily. Nonetheless, I would say that the vast majority of us, "just keep on truckin'"

Posted by: triviagal | January 3, 2007 2:42 PM

I think children pick up on the subtle messages we put forth daily. I remember a story in my own family that illustrates this point. When my niece was around 3 or 4, she was playing with my SIL. Background, niece and SIL are white. My SIL says I will be Angelica (from the rugrats and you can be Suzie. My niece says, "I don't want to be Suzie." My SIL asks her why. Niece replies, "Suzie is brown and I don't want to be brown." SIL replies, "there is nothing wrong with being brown." Niece insists she doesn't want to be brown Suzie. SIL retells the story and is baffled. She says she doesn't understand why her daughter has this opinion. She says we are not racist or anything like that. True, they are not openly racist. But does SIL clutch her purse a little tighter when a black man approaches, does my brother talk a little different to the other AA parents at preschool, etc... The point I am making is kids learn racism. Even if it is subtle and unfortunately if my niece is getting the message that brown people are wrong or bad, certainly the AA child is picking up that someone doesn't like me because I have a different skin tone. Guys racism is alive and prevelant. I think episodes like I just describe helps us reexamine our own prejudice feelings and helps to change our actions.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 2:45 PM

I would like to know what specifically gave the AA nannies the idea that working for AA families would be worse than working for caucasian families (tv, radio, newspapers or personal experience)?

Posted by: KLB Silver Spring | January 3, 2007 2:46 PM

I am a little nonplussed by the "blacks are racists too" discussion. (Triviagal, I appreciate your attempt to differentiate between bigotry, racism, and prejudice, but (1) I am not entirely persuaded by the distincion and (2) we are all just using "racism" as a shorthand for "viewing a person of another race as inferior in some way," so let's just stick to it for now, ok?)

First of all, I am white and there is no question in my mind that if I walk up to a counter to ask a question (particularly of a white person) I am instantly treated with more respect than if I were black. There are a million other factors that go into that, of course (dress, way I speak, etc.) but race is a big one. Why that is so hard to acknowledge is beyond me.

But second, the obvious finding of the article is that black people are racist against other black people. This, too, is not new. An old experiment involving children and dolls was just repeated a few months ago and came up with the very same results: black kids liked "white" dolls better and got sad when they had to admit that they were more like "black" dolls. Obviously people in the black community continue to internalize society's prejudice against them--i.e., they are racist. Why is that anything other than sad, exactly?

Posted by: aging mom | January 3, 2007 2:52 PM

triviagal - I actually did post that I was NOT denying white privelage (I know you did say you are trying to read all the posts). However, as I just said to moxiemom, I think it's really interesting that people assume because I'm white I live a life of privelage. Another point, I live in pittsburgh, not the DC area. So it is very possible that my daily experiece is very different from yours.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:52 PM

triviagal - I actually did post that I was NOT denying white privelage (I know you did say you are trying to read all the posts). However, as I just said to moxiemom, I think it's really interesting that people assume because I'm white I live a life of privelage. Another point, I live in pittsburgh, not the DC area. So it is very possible that my daily experiece is very different from yours.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:52 PM

NC lawyer -- I agree PG County stereotypes die hard... but it might interest you to know that Prince William County VA now has a pocket of middle and upper middle class black families. Quite a switch from its slightly redneck image.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/11/AR2006041101895.html

Posted by: Product of a Working Mother | January 3, 2007 2:54 PM

"And I know the laws were passed in the 60's, but do you really think the succeeding generations are free of racism? My 9 year old told me last week that his friend told him 'The hispanics are trying to take over the US' and 'There were these guys on tv killing over xboxes and they were all black, so if we buy an xbox a black guy might shoot us.'"

No, of course not. But I do think that it is, by and large, of a very different nature and magnitude. What's going to happen in your example? Are you going to say "yeah, that's right - you can't trust those . . . "? Are you and your neighbors going to lynch any hispanics or African-Americans to drive them out of town? Again, of course not. We don't live in the 1930's any more.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 2:56 PM

the post at 2:52 was from me. I'm really having trouble posting today.

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 2:56 PM

But second, the obvious finding of the article is that black people are racist against other black people. This, too, is not new. An old experiment involving children and dolls was just repeated a few months ago and came up with the very same results: black kids liked "white" dolls better and got sad when they had to admit that they were more like "black" dolls. Obviously people in the black community continue to internalize society's prejudice against them--i.e., they are racist. Why is that anything other than sad, exactly?

I actually heard it depends on age. Small children (younger the preschool) prefer dolls that look like their care givers. Preschool children prefer dolls that look like themselves and grade school children prefer dolls that look like what they view as the popular person. My DD is 3 and she has really followed that theory. When she was young she loved ethnic dolls and black dolls in particular. Some of her day care providers are AA. We are Asian and she liked Asian and Hispanic dolls a lot too. Now she prefers maninly Asian and Hispanic. I think she thinks she looks Hispanic. And I will be interested to see if she moves to a blonde blue eyed caucasian preference as she enters grade school. I try to balance out that theory by providing dolls of every race and ethnicity that we can afford. :) The dolls seem to take over sometimes. But I made it a point to buy dolls of each race and ethnicity etc...

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 2:58 PM

I think it's really interesting that people assume because I'm white I live a life of privelage.

I think this is bexie. You know, there is a difference between being a white person who lives a life of privilege and "white privilege." You can be any income or class as a white person and still have "white privilege." Hence, the wonderful employers in NY who would rather hire a white guy out of prison than a black guy out of college.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 2:58 PM

foamgnome,

I think kids totally pick up on little signals. My husband backs me up verbally, but he has his own prejudices and I work double time to counter that with the kids. (He also uses the whole "black people are racist too" excuse to justify it.) He doesnt say anything racist in front of the kids but I worry that they pick up on it.

When my son made those comments, we had one of those "talks". When Kramer was one of the news we had a talk about the word-you-must never-use-or-you-will-go-straight-to-military-school (and related words).

Usually, I am pretty easygoing but this issue really pushes my buttons.

Now I will go read Celebritology.

Posted by: jessker18 | January 3, 2007 2:58 PM

Bexie,
that would be "privilege."
Hope you don't mind, but since you have been using the word all day, perhaps you didn't realize you've been misspelling it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 3:00 PM

I wouldn't be so quick to assume that the nanny agencies' decisions not to service PG County is either racist or a poor business decision. Although PG may be the wealthiest majority african american county in the country, it is not (by a long shot) the wealthiest county in this area. In fact, PG isn't on the list of top 100 wealthiest counties in the country, while many other counties in this area are, including Arlington, Fairfax, Montgomery, Loudoun, Alexandria City, Howard, Anne Arundel, even DC. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highest-income_counties_in_the_United_States#100_highest-income_counties_by_per_capita_income) If you're looking to build a business, it makes sense to focus on the wealthiest areas in your vicinity. I'm not saying that this is the reason for the exclusion, or that racism might not play a part in the decision - just that we shouldn't jump to conclusions.

Posted by: On The Other Hand | January 3, 2007 3:02 PM

First of all, I am white and there is no question in my mind that if I walk up to a counter to ask a question (particularly of a white person) I am instantly treated with more respect than if I were black.

I am sorry but I have to say that this is a very bad generalization. You can't say that every white person treats you better because you are white and they treat black people with less respect because they are black. So, I guess when I worked at the ice cream stand in my teens that I treated all the white people better than the black people? That is insane.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 3:04 PM

*woops* haha, I really didn't realize I was spelling "privilege" incorrectly. Thanks.

I do just want to say that I think people have totally steered my posts against me. I am not coming in here claiming to be perfect. But I did come in here honestly. And the fact that I'm reading and contributing to this article I hope proves a bit that I'm aware that I'm not perfect, and that racism is a problem in our world. I truly am trying to learn from this. But if we can't all contribute, whether you believe my situation or not, then how are we even supposed to START making progress?

I have to log off now (public computer), so I will no longer be posting.

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 3:07 PM

Foamgnome, great point. How do we avoid passing on common prejudices to our children?

I myself am white and while sitting in a car in a deserted parking lot just recently, I locked the car doors when a black man (a teenage/young adult) came walking by (hoping he wouldn't hear it). My 16 mos son was with me. How much of that was a woman protecting herself wisely and how much was prejudice against young black males in a deserted parking lot?

I should say that it's situational, in my mind. That same parking lot is one where my husband owns a restaurant. He employs some young black men who are good, responsible kids.

All I can say is that it saddened me but I can't avoid feeling vulnerable to violence as well and worrying about it (in general).

But back to foamgnome's point -- is it possible to avoid passing on these subtle prejudices? I should say also that I don't think racism will ever be eradicated. There will always be THE OTHER (whether black, brown, Muslim, Jewish, white, Christian, Hindu, etc.) It's built into human nature.

Posted by: Rebecca | January 3, 2007 3:08 PM

"FUBU is a major line of sportswear and the company of the same name. The name is widely considered an acronym of "For Us By Us" (referring to black people),"

Wow, is this racist?

Posted by: wikipedia | January 3, 2007 3:10 PM

To Rebecca: I think alot of how we react to other people is their demeanor/dress. If a well dressed young man is walking towards me I am much less inclined to tighten my hold on my purse than if a kid of the same age with the baggy pants and backwards hat is approaching no matter of their race at all. An entirely different kind of prejudice I admit.

Posted by: KLB Silver Spring | January 3, 2007 3:12 PM

For people having diffficulty linking to the article, sometimes if you go to "most E-mailed articles" you can get the full text, even if its more than a week old.

And for the record, I don't doubt my abilities to rear a child with a core sense of good values; I am more concerned about the impact our society might have on a child I would produce. I'm sure moms of black boys have some very serious worries. Think about Sean Bell's mom; her son was shot to death by NYC police officers the night before his wedding. Again, a whole different topic that I am not suggesting we delve into presently.

Posted by: triviagal | January 3, 2007 3:13 PM

foamgnome,
that's interesting. I tried to see if I could find some information on the study to see how old the kids were, but couldn't. My recollection is that they were elementary school children, but I can't substantiate that right now.

Posted by: aging mom | January 3, 2007 3:13 PM

Just some quick info: Au Pairs are obtained through a federally regulated program (e.g., Au Pair in Anmrica, Cultural Care, USAuPair)that carefully screens the families and the applicants. Familes pay a membership fee to join the service (about $6,000), fill out information about themselves, where they live, their life style, and what they need in child care. Likewise, Au Pairs fill out similar forms. The family calls the au pair for a mutual interview and then, if they like each other, the au pairs and families are "matched" by the program.

Au Pairs are typically foreign, college-aged students who travel to the United States to live with a host family, attend classes (host family pays for a portion), experience life in the United States and, in exchange, provide their host family with limited hours and types of child care (no overnights for instance or house cleaning unrelated to the child(ren).) The family is to treat them as part of the family. They pay the au pair a mandated weekly stipend ($140), include them in family activites, pay a set amount for college courses ($500), and allow them time to travel and vacation to see the United States. All of this is strictly regulated by the Federal Government. Au Pairs are very different from nannies and are not just "college-aged girls who live-in."

We have a lovely 20-year old Au Pair from Germany and many of the au pairs we have meet are from either Germany or Brazil (students from those countries seem to be particularly attracted to DC). Our au pair also has au pair friends from Finland, Sweden, Costa Rica, Canada, South Africa, and Thailand, to name a few). We had nannies for many years (Hispanic, Asain, Black, White, foreign-born, american-born) but, once our youngest was school-aged we need fewer hours and more flexibilty. The Au Pair program offers both. I have to say that having help with the hectic morning routine is wonderful. Its also a great way for children to learn about a foreign culture and language.

All of that said, I have to add, on the main topic, anyone who believes that prejudice and racism against African Americans in this country is over, is truly living in denial. I am white and have admittedly lived my entire life in the upper-middle class socio-economic world. I have seen examples of racism and prejudice my entire life: from children, college kids, co-workers, and elders. Most of these people are offended and in heated denial when you call them on it. Some are proud of it. Some have not a single clue what you are talking about. Of course, there are just as many people who are very aware of racism and prejudice and work very hard to avoid thinking, feeling, believing, or allowing racism and prejudice in their own persons and persons around them. However, to deny the existence of such a pernicious and nasty ailment of our society is to allow it to fester and grow unchecked. I am not at all surprised by the article, but I am deeply saddened. Of course, I should have known without being told that this was a problem, and I do think that, had I given it much thought, I would have realized it on my own. It is something we should think about and acknowledge.

Posted by: Palisades | January 3, 2007 3:15 PM

Agingmom: A school pyschologist told me that in reference to dolls and doll sales. But we know far too much about dolls because both our DDs are crazy about the American girl dolls. It came up because I wanted to know why some dolls seemed marketed to younger children while other races seemed to be popular with older kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 3:18 PM

the whole doll study issue reminds me:
when I was a young girl in DC in the 70s (I'm dating myself now) I wanted a doll that looked like my friends at school. My mom searched all over DC for a black doll (Kresges, etc.) She finally found one, behind the counter, at Woodies. And the lady asked her twice if she was sure she was sure she wanted it.

And Bexie, sure no one is going to be lynched/run out of town, but is racism okay if it falls short of physical harm? My sons friend is getting these ideas from someplace, and he is a future employer/loan officer/legislator/policemen.

Posted by: jessker19 | January 3, 2007 3:20 PM

Triviagal, thanks so much for your answer. That's what I get for not reading as thoroughly as I should! ::applies lip balm to ease insertion of foot into mouth::

Thanks to you too, NC Lawyer, for the historical perspective. I lived in an apartment community in PG (right over the DC border) for years and was the only white person in the complex. I was definitely the minority there, but when I went to other neighborhoods in PG I found a lot of people from all different races, but I have the feeling they were mostly somehow affiliated with UMCP (as was I). That's a stereotype in itself, though.

Either way, you've both given me some food for thought. I was as appalled as everyone else upon hearing of the refusal of service to PG county residents, and knowing what I know now, I think we can reliably point the finger at racism. How sad.

Posted by: Mona | January 3, 2007 3:20 PM

To Rebecca: I think alot of how we react "to other people is their demeanor/dress. If a well dressed young man is walking towards me I am much less inclined to tighten my hold on my purse than if a kid of the same age with the baggy pants and backwards hat is approaching no matter of their race at all. An entirely different kind of prejudice I admit."

All these youngsters with their hippity hop music and backwards hats, what is the world coming to? Ties and jackets for all, I say, that will make everything better and make us all much safer.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 3:20 PM

Rebecca, good question. I agree it's situational. I guess the distinction in my mind would be if you'd lock your car doors if a young white guy wandered by in the same situation (I would). At least, that's the question I always ask myself when I replay those kinds of incidents in my mind. Of course, I'm usually on busy city streets surrounded by lots of people I don't know, so I've usually got my doors locked or purse held fairly tightly in the first place. :-)

Posted by: Laura | January 3, 2007 3:20 PM

To me, this is just a microcosm of the larger issue of racism. It emphasizes that racism in this country indeed impacts every area of life. However, at least there is an upside in this case, in that if someone is so prejudiced against African-Americans that they don't want to work for them, they shouldn't be the sole daily provider of an African-American child anyway, so I'd say it's a good weeding out process that takes place in this arena; an equal, opposing, positive dynamic; having that is usually not the case when it comes to racism. I'm much more concerned about some poor AA child left to the exclusive whims of a prejudiced caretaker. Of course racist people are employed by schools and daycare centers, but at least there's more recourse and greater likelihood of detection and corraboration by other parents.

After seeing the nanny expose shows where the kindly nanny proceeds to beat the daylights out of the kid after the parents leave the home, I've never had an inclination to leave my child dependent upon just one stranger. The potential for racism is just one of many reasons. With a nanny, who knows what you're getting unless you install a nanny cam? And where racism is concerned, no one is immune. You could be white and get a black or hispanic nanny with resentments about racism who proceeds to do all sorts of things to your child, even that the child may not know about, thus there may be no telltale tension between the child and nanny to tip off the parents. You could be black and get a white nanny who's racist. You could be black and get a black nanny with internalized racism who hates herself and therefore treats black kids with less love than kids of other colors. You could be hispanic and get a white racist nanny. You could be hispanic and get a hispanic nanny with internalized racism . . . You could be black and get a hispanic nanny who is racist. You could be black and get a racist white nanny who doesn't love your child appropriately. It goes on and on. The skeptical posters who say that some folks call everything racist fail to see that racism does in fact impose upon every facet of life in some way. However, at the same time, you could be any color and get a crazy nanny of any color. In the childcare arena, the focus has to be on finding someone of whatever color who you convince yourself will be LOVING TO THE CHILD. If some stupid nanny doesn't want to be my nanny because of my race, I say thanks to God for keeping that nanny away from my child.

Posted by: minamu | January 3, 2007 3:21 PM

I agree with "aging mom". The issue of blacks being racist was originally brought up because it is evident from the NYT article that the AA nannies being interviewed were "racist". There was not sinister reason to bring it up or to "end the discussion". Too much sensitivity by a few.

And I see no problem with the interchanging of the terms "racist", "prejudice" or whatever word people are using. The are all similar in meaning and are interchangable. Too picyune.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 3:28 PM

Is anyone here concerned about real issues like polar ice shelfs detaching and melting? Moreover, how this is going to affect the future generation?

Anyone?

Posted by: worried | January 3, 2007 3:32 PM

To Aging Mom: I (as well as gender and race theorists) believe it is very important to make the distinction between prejudice, bigotry and racism. I think a lot of the confusion in today's chat alone shows the importance of these distinctions. Some people are referring to the ability to have an impact on how far a person can go in our society (racism) vs. not liking someone based on their appearance (prejudice). There is a power dynamic that exists in one word that is not present in the other. Take the discussion of privileged vs. White Privilege, two entirely different entities. I have black friends who are privileged b/c of their economic status and I have white friends who recognize that they benefit from White Privilege.

How we use terminology is very important; Frank Luntz makes a boat load of money on the way in which we respond to certain words. We might want to use a short hand term, but it does not effectively convey or message or it can confound how our audience interprets said message.

Posted by: triviagal | January 3, 2007 3:34 PM

"I myself am white and while sitting in a car in a deserted parking lot just recently, I locked the car doors when a black man (a teenage/young adult) came walking by (hoping he wouldn't hear it). My 16 mos son was with me. How much of that was a woman protecting herself wisely and how much was prejudice against young black males in a deserted parking lot?"

Don't feel guilty. I'm a middle-aged white man who grew up on the Old South, in a mid-sized city with a pretty evenly mixed black/white population. I never locked my car doors while driving until I was about 32 years old. I was never frighted there, either.

That year, I went on a business trip to Los Angeles. I spent about a week with a colleague who was an African-American man, in his late thirties, who was built like an NFL lineman. He locked the doors automatically every time he got in the car. I didn't ask why - I just figured he knew what he was doing (he was a very, very smart man) and assumed LA could be a pretty scary place.

Some places are dangerous. You have to protect yourself - regardless of what your skin color is.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 3:35 PM

You know, I worked in the resturant business when I was in college. I was a naive white kid who's parents taught him that everyone was equal and that prejustice was wrong. But what I saw in the resturant business really bothered me. Bascially, I saw many of my black collegues (servers and bussers) not want to serve black patrons and they were very vocal about it. I've been confused for a long time about why this is and still don't understand it. Others that I spoke to in different resturants experienced the same thing. I wonder if this isn't the same type situation. Anyone care to shed some light?

Posted by: stan | January 3, 2007 3:40 PM

The issue of blacks being racist was originally brought up because it is evident from the NYT article that the AA nannies being interviewed were "racist". There was not sinister reason to bring it up or to "end the discussion". Too much sensitivity by a few.

Actually, the issue really came up for me when some posters were pretty insistent on emphasizing that blacks can be racist too, which: 1. is not a newsflash, 2. is beside the point, and 3. was said in such a way as to shunt the conversation away from racism experienced by blacks seeking nannies. It's not oversensitivity. It doesn't involve a sinister declaration of intent. Good gravy.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 3:44 PM

Hey NC lawyer

I'm bummed about Wake. I stayed up too late watching them.
More history on PG county: I lived in PG county in the 60s (yep) and it was all white. Sad to say, many people moved out as the racial makeup started to change (which accelerated the change). I remember my local 7-11 being fire-bombed in 68. I remember being told everyone was the same, but noone certainly acted like it. We moved in 69 when my father's job was reassigned to Hawaii (where I was the minority).

Posted by: dotted | January 3, 2007 3:46 PM

"Actually, the issue really came up for me when some posters were pretty insistent on emphasizing that blacks can be racist too, which: 1. is not a newsflash, 2. is beside the point, and 3. was said in such a way as to shunt the conversation away from racism experienced by blacks seeking nannies. It's not oversensitivity. It doesn't involve a sinister declaration of intent. Good gravy."

No - look back at the alleged horror story that Leslie quotes "My experience is living proof that black nannies have no desire to work for black couples..." The whole bloody point of the thing is that wealthy African-Americans are torqued because they think even African-American nannies don't want to work for them. Who knows - maybe they don't? But if this is the great racial problem of the 21st century, I'll go home and eat my hat - and then sing a hymn of joy that we don't have any worse problems to worry about.

Good gravy indeed

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 3:53 PM

dotted, thanks for providing the very interesting background on PG county.

(WFU has been my second-favorite ACC team for some time, so I was depressed to see them lose. Last night is mightily contributing to my non-productive day, as you can tell.)

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 3, 2007 3:57 PM

"All these youngsters with their hippity hop music and backwards hats, what is the world coming to? Ties and jackets for all, I say, that will make everything better and make us all much safer."

...and while you're at it, if you go to the UK then don't bring your hooded sweatshirts or any of your clothes or accessories with the Burberry check on it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:00 PM

"But I'm having a hard time getting upset because some African-American nannies take jobs with white families rather than black families, and say they make more money for less work that way."

The problem is that the article does not say that the nannies were taking the jobs with white families because the white families pay better. That is your assumption about the what the articles says, your assumption about the nannies think and your assumption that white familiies pay more. The nannies and the nanny agencies were being flat-out racist. almost refreshingly honest about, actually (well, not the agency-- put the blame back on to the nannys).

It must be nice to be so naive that you can't imagine a nanny thinking to herself, "The black family is offering the same money as the white family-- I think I'll work for the white family because as a black person myself, I know that this when economic downturn hits, it'll be the black family-- and subsequently that family's household help-- that is going to be laid-off/shafted before the white family."

Or maybe you think that is OK-- just something that people should "get over." How does that go again? You say, "oh well, so people discriminate against me because of the color of my skin. Guess that is what I deserve. So I've worked hard and achieved success and can afford a nanny to care for my children-- I guess it's OK that I have to place them in daycare that is inconvenient to my commute and cuts into my career success." Repeat over and over as needed, eh?

I understand the concerns of the nannies and I don't blame them entirely-- they are just being savvy about the fact of racism in this society. But Bizarre you are doing them no favors when you suggest that they are just working for white familiies because the white families pay better. Oh, that it were true-- but it ain't.

Posted by: to Bizarre | January 3, 2007 4:00 PM

To Trivia Gal:
I am interested in the distinction you make--I just have not encountered it in everyday usage, and may not quite understand it. I would think that "racism" does not necessarily involve power structures; "race discrimination" does. But you seem to suggest that these terms have developed specific meaning in academic discourse about race issues. Where can I read up on this? Is there a seminal text (um, preferably short)?

Posted by: aging mom | January 3, 2007 4:01 PM

As a former nanny who interviewed for dozens of jobs before landing in a good one, I definitely had opinions about my employers though never based on race. It was more likely to be your profession that would give me a baseline and I would ask very pointed/specific questions to find out if I needed to look elsewhere for employment. The fact is that the employer/employee relationship with between a parent and a nanny, especially a live-in nanny which I was, is very personal/intimate by its nature. Yes there should be professionalism involved too but this is a person helping to raise your child, their opinions and views of the world are of consequence. You are going to be up all in each other's business a lot of the time and you are going to need to be comfortable with each other, not friends, but comfortable.

Posted by: former nanny | January 3, 2007 4:01 PM

aging mom, for the cliff notes version, with all appropriate disclaimers for the veracity of the source, see Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:06 PM

NC lawyer: trying to be productive? Hah! I admit to failure. And we get to do it again tonight. I have to go with LSU, if only for solidarity with Fred/Fredia. Though it is always good to hear the ND fight song. hmm along now.

Posted by: dotted | January 3, 2007 4:09 PM

triviagal is full of it. The distinctions are subtle and her definitions are her own. I see no reason to be picayune about the uses of the words--it detracts from the discussion. I apologize to those who may think this is offensive, but I am offended by someone who picks at the words people use--especially when the word usage is correct.

Posted by: To aging mom | January 3, 2007 4:15 PM

Fredia does not care about football at all. My particular interest in LSU is hopefully getting a 1/2 day off BUT here is the ND fight song that my sainted mother use to sing to me.

Ver 1
Beers, beers for old Notre Dame
Bring on the cocktails, we want champagne
Send the freshmen out for gin,
Don't let a sober sophomore in.
We never stagger, we never fall,
We sober up on wood alcohol,
All the loyal faculty lie drunk on the bar room floor!

Ver 2
Beer, beer for old Notre Dame.
Bring on the whiskey, bring on the dames!
We drink wine or beer or gin
Don't let a sober person in!

We never stumble, we never fall.
We sober up on wood alcohol.
As our loyal sons go marching
Back to the bar for more!

Posted by: Fred | January 3, 2007 4:16 PM

"The nannies and the nanny agencies were being flat-out racist. almost refreshingly honest about, actually (well, not the agency-- put the blame back on to the nannys)."

You don't like their opinions - fine. But dig a bit - we're talking about BLACK nannies. Where did they got their ideas about wealthier African-Americans? Could they know as much about them as you do? Do you really think their motives are bad?

And why should any non-African-American care? This is a domestic disturbance - let the family fight it out.

And what the HECK does this mean - "I understand the concerns of the nannies and I don't blame them entirely-- they are just being savvy about the fact of racism in this society."?

Black nannies are partially justified in their concern about working for a Black employer because of some sort of societal racism? Really? It's reasonable for a black nanny to say to herself, before taking a job with a black family, "but hey, maybe this isn't a such a good idea - OTHER PEOPLE are prejudiced against this family"?

Sorry. The Palestinians may be anti-semitic - but it would be asinine for a secular Israeli to see that as a reason to be anti-semitic against an observant Israeli. That way lies madness.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:17 PM

Poster at 4:00 pm wrote: *****It must be nice to be so naive that you can't imagine a nanny thinking to herself, "The black family is offering the same money as the white family-- I think I'll work for the white family because as a black person myself, I know that this when economic downturn hits, it'll be the black family-- and subsequently that family's household help-- that is going to be laid-off/shafted before the white family."*****

Why would black professionals be laid off before white professionals????? Are you suggesting this from personal experience? If so, please tell more.

Posted by: MBA Mom | January 3, 2007 4:22 PM

"I am offended by someone who picks at the words people use--especially when the word usage is correct."

Amen. Drawing careful distinctions between words is useful when it improves communication by clarifying real issues - and when it makes it easier for everyone else to understand what you're trying to say. Insisting that everyone else use words in unfamiliar and arbitrary ways does none of that, and is the worst kind of pseudo-intellectual claptrap.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 3, 2007 4:22 PM

Aging Mom: I don't know that I can give you specific texts, but I can recommend some authors. Perhaps you can check some book reviews; I find Amazon to be fantastic for this. I hope other contributors to the blog feel free to recommend some authors as well. I'm not even going to respond to the person who said I was making up these distinctions.

Authors: bell hooks (she does not capitalize her name); Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Deborah Gray White (one of my personal favorites); Cornell West.

Posted by: triviagal | January 3, 2007 4:26 PM

Triviagal says, and this is true in some circles, that the term racism connotes a power structure relationship aka institutional racism. I do not believe this is true and I disagree with people who claim it is true. This often pops up that people who are members of underclass minorities cannot be racist because they don't hold the power structure in the US. That's not correct and I disagree with definining racism only in those terms. It's worth mentioning that in 1991 the underclass Latin minority in Mt Pleasant staged a race war against the African-American power structure, burning down a restaurant favored by the African-Americans in the neighborhood. So by this point, in Washington, DC it is arguable who (Whites, Blacks) is the race in power who can perform institutionally racist acts. Therefore racism as a power structure identifier ONLY really holds no meaning and should be discarded.

Posted by: Bethesdan | January 3, 2007 4:29 PM

Obviously, we should use ebonics to discuss anything related to racism against blacks

Posted by: anon | January 3, 2007 4:30 PM

Well, look, sometimes words do take on specific meanings different from those they have to the layperson, and sometimes those distinctions are illuminating and useful. That's why I asked Triviagal for an authoritative source on the distinctions she is making. I am no race theorist, so I don't know if the definitions are her own or if these terms really have developed important differences. I will look up the Wikipedia entry later and will defer judgment until then!

Posted by: aging mom | January 3, 2007 4:32 PM

"Drawing careful distinctions between words is useful when it improves communication by clarifying real issues - and when it makes it easier for everyone else to understand what you're trying to say. Insisting that everyone else use words in unfamiliar and arbitrary ways does none of that, and is the worst kind of pseudo-intellectual claptrap."

wow, I've never heard wilful ignorance defended before. It's difficult to believe that the same poster is responsible for uttering these two sentences. Since when is it pseudo-intellectual claptrap to use words consistent with their meaning? Confident people like to learn new words and use the correct word to communicate their opinions. Consider showing your confidence rather than shooting the messenger, triviagal, a poster who has been particularly reasonable and non-inflammatory today.

In the alternative, consider singing the Notre Dame fight song, an altogether more civil way to pass the time.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:35 PM

Disregarding the appropriatness of your analogy, in a Palestinian neighborhood, would not the secular Isreali be safer walking on the opposite side of the street as the more observant fellow, as the latter is more likely a target of violence?

Posted by: to bizzare | January 3, 2007 4:37 PM

Sorry, posts crossed in midair. I will also take a look at Amazon book reviews by the race theorists Triviagal mentions.
Wait--did I just assign myself homework?!
:)

Posted by: aging mom | January 3, 2007 4:37 PM

If we were in a classroom or writing a book or term paper about the history of racism in America, the distinctions as arbitrarily defined by academics (e.g. Cornel West) would be relevant. This is a blog with people expressing their opinions. It is annoying to be corrected in word usage for the sake of correcting someone. Especially since the distinctions do not matter for this type of discussion. It is pseudointellectual snobbery to bring up the subject during this type of discussion.

And I wouldn't consider Wikipedia an authority on anything.

Posted by: to triviagal and aging mom | January 3, 2007 4:39 PM

Disregarding the appropriatness of your analogy, in a Palestinian neighborhood, would not the secular Isreali be safer walking on the opposite side of the street as his more observant colleague, as the latter is the more likely target of violence?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:39 PM

Fred-awesome lyrics. kudos to your sainted mother: Fredericka? I downloaded the fight song to itunes and sung your lyrics.

Posted by: dotted | January 3, 2007 4:40 PM

The larger story here is that people of color often have so internalized racism that they devalue themselves and others who are most like them. Black and brown people in service positions often have a difficult time with serving other people who resemble themselves.

This loathing is a two-way street. Many blacks do not think that serving other blacks is as prestigious as serving whites. Also, many blacks mistreat and do not adequately pay and tip other black service workers.

I am a 46 year old black American woman. When I was a teenager, my mother required household services and looked for a woman to do day work for our family. She offered better than the prevailing wages of the time (early 1970s in the Midwest - the daily rate was $20.00 per day and lunch). My mother offered $25.00 and an excellent lunch of freshly prepared food of the day worker's choice not leftovers).

No black woman wanted to work for our family, because in their (black maids) pecking order we were not ritzy enough. Finally, a woman who did day work and was a good church friend to my paternal grandmother agreed to give my mother Monday's (almost like an extraordinary favor). She worked out very well and gave my mother occasional extra days and since she was an excellent baker, she also prepared most of our baked goods too. We were all glad that this arrangement worked out.

Recently, I was in Washington, D.C. on business and was waiting in line for a cab from the airport. The mostly black and brown drivers really played up to the mostly white male passengers. I got my taxi, but not the same deference and showmanship that the whites received. The reality is that racism is so deep and damaging that many people of color harbor similar stereotypes and resentment towards other people who are just like them. This is a dimension and legacy of racism that should be discussed more often.

Beni Dakar
Duluth, GA

Posted by: Beni Dakar | January 3, 2007 4:43 PM

"Single Mom-

You are a real airhead! Boys are sexually abused all the time.

Posted by: | January 3, 2007 12:28 PM "

Hey freak - at least put a name to it. I have been working on African international development/HIV projects for too long I guess - but there have been several cases in South Africa over the past couple years of MEN raping toddlers because they believe that having sex with a virgin will rid them of HIV. Read BBC news please and save your judgements. Everyone can be abused, anywhere... I was just stating a gut reaction. Probably based on this research. Also, back when I was in high school there were a few cases coming out of men in preschool settings abusing young girls and this has skewed my thoughts on this.


Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:46 PM

"wow, I've never heard wilful ignorance defended before. It's difficult to believe that the same poster is responsible for uttering these two sentences. Since when is it pseudo-intellectual claptrap to use words consistent with their meaning?"

There's a difference between clear, careful writing and jargon. Highlighting that distinction - and insisting that it is important - is not willful ignorance. Jargon - as commonly understood - is the use of special terms of art outside their appropriate realm, in a way that confuses people.

I'll say it again. If you're taking care to use words in a way that a) clarifies important issues and b) helps the people you're talking to understand, then you're doing a good thing.

If you're insisting on using words in unfamiliar, specialized senses that confuse the conversation - for whatever reason - then the Good English Usage fairy should take you out and shoot you.

Just because certain jargon may be useful (or at least common) in particular academic settings does not mean that it is helpful or appropriate in other settings.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:47 PM

To Bexie --

I'm not trying to be snarky either, which is one of the down sides of having this conversation online. All I am saying -- without any hatred or malice toward you or anyone else on this board -- is that, if you look deep enough, you can find evidence of white privilege in some area of your life, loans and scholarship hardship notwithstanding. It's subtle enough to miss, and if you keep searching, you will understand what I'm talking about. It might be something as simple as getting service in a store or getting a cab, but it's there. Trust me.

I don't know enough about your personal situation to comment on it, but might there have been a better way to get an education instead of running up $54K in loans? Perhaps a state school or an HBCU? Some states do offer scholarships to white students who attend historically black universities. Maybe that could have been an option for you.

And the person who said my argument was "tired" : Maybe it's tired because we keep saying it OVER and OVER again and SOME of you WON'T LISTEN. Get the peanut butter out of your ears! Read historians like Roediger, Takaki, Foner et al., who point out things like this in America, or even Ellis Cose, who's long documented similar disaffection among middle-class African Americans. Good grief.

All I know about the topic at hand is this: If I am a professional, who wants to hire a caregiver for my child, should my race even matter in getting a person to do that job? I can understand if a parent wants to pick a black or Jewish or white person. But when I can't get someone to do the job -- out of the agency's or prospective employee's preconceived notions about me, where I live or how I get my money -- that's not right. You can call it prejudice or racism or whatever, but you're basically leaving my money on the table because it's not good enough for you, and that's not supposed to happen here. When I decide who I want for the job, that reflects on me, good or bad. But when people decide whether to take my money, based on what they *think* they know of me, then that's far, far worse and we have a lot of growing up to do.

Posted by: dirrtysw | January 3, 2007 4:48 PM

Just another update on the pregnancy. It's over. I discovered at 9 weeks that it was a missed abortion. The gestational sac had developed, but nothing more. I had a D & C done over the weekend.

Back to the old drawing board.

Posted by: Emily | January 3, 2007 4:52 PM

"The mostly black and brown drivers really played up to the mostly white male passengers."

Did you ask them why? Could be interesting. Could there be patterns in where people go, how large the fare is, how safe the destination neighborhoods are, or how large the tips tend to be?

People tend to be pretty shrewd where their livelihood is concerned. An experienced cabbie might be able to shed some real light on what you're seeing.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:52 PM

Emily,

I'm so sorry.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 3, 2007 4:54 PM

Emily - sorry to hear about the pregnancy. It must be tough. Good luck

Posted by: single mom | January 3, 2007 4:54 PM

Emily - my sincere condolences to you.

Posted by: dotted | January 3, 2007 4:55 PM

So very sorry for your loss.

Posted by: To Emily: | January 3, 2007 4:56 PM

Naw, sainted mother was just Betty.

Posted by: Fred | January 3, 2007 4:56 PM

Older Dad and our anonymous posters at 4:39 and 4:47: Let's pause a moment and consider. As between clear, careful writing, on the one hand, and jargon, on the other, "pseudointellectual snobbery" and "pseudo-intellectual claptrap" fit squarely within the jargon column.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 4:58 PM

"I can understand if a parent wants to pick a black or Jewish or white person."

Really? You can understand why a parent might want to pick a nanny based on race or religion, but not why a nanny might want to pick an employer based on race or religion? Is there any difference between the two?

Did you really mean to say that "[w]hen I decide who I want for the job, that reflects on me, good or bad" but that when someone else decides they don't want to work for you "then that's far, far worse"?

I'm sorry you've been hurt in the past, but this sounds like the worst kind of hypocricy - and the fact that you're an African-American who's had a hard time doesn't excuse it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 5:00 PM

Emily,

My condolences on your very personal loss.

Fred

Posted by: Fred | January 3, 2007 5:03 PM

"As between clear, careful writing, on the one hand, and jargon, on the other, "pseudointellectual snobbery" and "pseudo-intellectual claptrap" fit squarely within the jargon column."

Sure do, don't they?

;-)

Nowhere is it written that you can't mock jargon every now and again.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 3, 2007 5:03 PM

Emily, I am so sorry. I'll be thinking about you.

I don't know if it helps, but when I had my miscarriages (including a missed abortion at 9 weeks), I suddenly discovered that people just came out of the woodwork to tell me that the same thing had happened to them. I went from hardly even knowing what a miscarriage was and feeling completely alone to realizing that they are pretty common. The numbers didn't help me a lot (when it's your baby and you really really really want it, it's hard to just write it off as a percentage), but finding this whole community of women who had gone through the same thing did. So all I can say is you're not alone.

Posted by: Laura | January 3, 2007 5:04 PM

Emily, I am so sorry for your loss.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 3, 2007 5:05 PM

Thank you all for the condolences. I do appreciate them. Somehow, though, I am not as devastated as people think I might be. Disappointed, yes. Definitely. Maybe even a litte discouraged. But we have some other avenues we can explore, and even if I never get pregnant again, I am pretty confident that life still has a lot to offer. In a way, this string of pregnancy losses has made me appreciate what I have more than ever: I husband and I child that I love dearly. Nothing can change the beauty of that.

Posted by: Emily | January 3, 2007 5:07 PM

Emily,
I am so sorry. I hope you are ok.

Posted by: aging mom | January 3, 2007 5:10 PM

I'm curious. One topic that's been distinctly missing from today's postings is any mention of Latinos in the nanny workforce. Are Latino nannies interested in working for African-American families? is it only prejudiced African-American nannies who decline to work for African-American families? or is it all nannies, regardless of race, who prefer not to work for African-American families? I'm not asking for a scholarly survey, just your gut instinct and anecdotal experiences.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 5:23 PM

I'm very sorry, Emmily. Your words of wisdom are a good perspective on priorities and even today's debate. Best of luck to you.

Signing off to go get the kids.

Posted by: theoriginalmomof2 | January 3, 2007 5:24 PM

Can someone tell me what a "missed abortion" is? Over twenty years ago, I had 2 miscarriages which were also called spontaneous abortions. Is "missed abortion" the newest phrasing of the same thing?

Emily, sorry for your loss.

Posted by: Older mom | January 3, 2007 5:25 PM

Older Mom,

"Missed abortion refers to the clinical situation in which an intrauterine pregnancy is present but is no longer developing normally. Before widespread use of ultrasounds the term missed abortion was applied to pregnancies with no uterine growth over a prolonged period of time, typically 6 weeks."

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 5:29 PM

""I can understand if a parent wants to pick a black or Jewish or white person."

Really? You can understand why a parent might want to pick a nanny based on race or religion, but not why a nanny might want to pick an employer based on race or religion? Is there any difference between the two?

Did you really mean to say that "[w]hen I decide who I want for the job, that reflects on me, good or bad" but that when someone else decides they don't want to work for you "then that's far, far worse"?

I'm sorry you've been hurt in the past, but this sounds like the worst kind of hypocricy - and the fact that you're an African-American who's had a hard time doesn't excuse it."

Well, let's see. A private citizen, spending his/her money, has the right to decide in entering contracts who to spend it with.

But civil rights laws do not allow a private business to discriminate on who it can and cannot serve based on color (that is an interference with commerce, which is one of the reasons the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was drafted). The two situations are not analogous.

A parent's decision to choose a nanny based on religion or race is not illegal. It may be sad. It's probably despicable. But it's not illegal. I don't know of any law that requires or forbids you, or me, or anyone else to use race or religion as criteria to choose a particular nanny.

On the other hand, a nanny agency that refuses to serve someone because of perceptions that their prospective customer(s) is (are) of a particular race or religion is violating discrimination law. It's only a matter of time before that agency upsets the wrong person and gets sued or winds up the target of a nasty investigation by a human rights commission. An individual nanny may be a different story since she is not representing an agency.

Get the distinction?

I don't really care about the discussion on this board about the parents. I thought the NYT story was about how difficult a time black parents were having finding a nanny because of perceptions held by others. I didn't read a story about black parents discriminating in the choice of their nannies.

Your observation about me, however, being "an African American who's had a hard time" is so far off the mark that it's laughable. I'd be glad to talk with you about it civilly in person if you'd like.

Posted by: dirrtysw | January 3, 2007 5:32 PM

Emily,

I am very sorry.

Posted by: scarry | January 3, 2007 5:36 PM

dirrtysw - the sad part is that I DID go to a state school (and I am a resident of that state). I was denied many, many scholarships, and as far as I could find, there really was no other way for me to go to college than to rack up loans (my parents did not go to college).

Now that I have had time to reflect on my previous posts, I want to clairify things. I am NOT repeat NOT denying that there is white privilege. However, I think the amount of benefit I get from getting faster service at the starbuck's counter is nominal. Referring to a previous post, I honestly to think that many black people take a victim stance. For example, when a white family is unsuccessful they are considered lazy. But when a black family is unsuccessful they are considered to be victims of society. Do you (the generalized you) recall when Bill Cosby called on the black community to shape up - he was condemned! Because people would rather be victims than realize they need to work to achieve. Or, why is it that Oprah Winfrey is accused of being "too white" instead of being praised for being ricidulously successful (if you know her story, she had a rough life).

I am not denying that racism exists. Some of the examples I was able to think of on my way home:
1) I live equidistant between two grocery stores. One is in a predominately white neighborhood (store A), one is in a predominately black neighborhood (store B). Store A was recently renovated and upgraded to a beautiful store that carries organics/vegan/kosher and other specialty foods. Store B is rundown, understocked, understaffed, and dirty. This is racism driven by a corporation.
2) I do not own a car and take public transportation almost every day. If I catch a bus that runs through predominately black neighborhoods, it often has seats missing, cracked windows, and disgusting mystery stains on the floor. If I take a bus that runs through a predominately white neighborhood, the bus is pristine, has functioning heat/air conditioning, and often a digital voice that calls out the stops for the benefit of the blind. This is not only corporate, but state run racism.
3) In college I enrolled in "classic slavery literature". At the end of the first lecture, the African American professor came up to me and suggested that it would be "better for everyone" if I dropped the class. I kept the books and have read them, but I did not get to benefit from the discussion.

I do not claim to be perfect. But so many people in this post also said that racism goes all ways, but when I claimed to have been a victim of racism people told me I was imagining it. No, I may not be trailed if I go into Nordstrom's, but I have been verbally berated while just walking through black neighborhoods. And I will admit that I am afraid to look at a black person on the bus for fear of being accused of staring. Case-in-point, last night at the gym I was admiring a very fit, very well cut black man. When he noticed me looking at him, he got his friend's attention and pointed me out in a very threatening way. Yes, racism does occur in all directions. For pointing that out I am not a horrible person. But we cannot make progress in this world until we admit we are all at fault, and actually believe it in our hearts.

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 5:37 PM

"Because we seem to have become obsessed with [racism]. Regardless of who you are, what your background is, or what your racial and ethnic origins are, some:

a) People will not like you;

b) Prospective employers will not hire you;

c) Contests in life you will lose;

d) Waitstaff will be surly and unhelpful;

e) Some situations will seem to be, at least from your point of view, randomly and inexplicably unfair.

Unfortunately, that's part of the human condition. Racism is a bad thing, but it's not the cause of all the unfairness and interpersonal nastiness in the world - not even for African-Americans.

Slavery was evil. Jim Crow was evil. But when we turn the difficulty in finding a good nanny into a case of racism, we're trivializing the whole concept. I am heartily sick of people whose first instinct is to attribute all the normal annoyances of life to racism, misogyny, class snobbery or religious fundamentalism. Many of us need to grow up, accept that not everyone likes us, and get on with our lives."

As a black person I would love to know that someone was a total jerk, but unfortunately i have to question whether acts of rudeness are more than that. I can't make you understand why black people are sensitive to acts of unkindness, but I would hope that you will at least one day realize that most black people would prefer to simply accept unkind people for what they are without having to wonder if skin color determined how they were treated. Also if you haven't noticed we have no choice but to get "on with our lives" but part of that is discussing societal problems so that our children can get on with better lives. I believe every person alive wants to be judged as a person, not as a group. I am, and so are most others, more than capable of having a disagreement with other people without feeling that racism or bigotry is at the root. However when judged as a group because of skin color, religious preference, sexual preference, etc., it's hard for me to believe that a person is simply rude.

Posted by: Dani | January 3, 2007 5:38 PM

Older Mom: As my doc explained it, a miscarriage is when a non-viable embryo is expelled, and a "missed abortion" is when a non-viable embryo is not expelled -- same basic underlying problem, but different bodily reaction to it.

The confusion is the word abortion, but that's a confusion between the medical term and the political one. Medically, a miscarriage is considered a spontaneous abortion, where the body of its own accord expels the embryo. We just don't think of it that way, because docs typically avoid using that terminology with their patients for obvious reasons (though you may see it in your chart). So a "missed abortion" is where there was something wrong and the embryo didn't develop, but your body didn't follow the typical response of expelling it -- it "missed" the "abortion" (expelling).

Posted by: Laura | January 3, 2007 5:41 PM

Bexie,
are you sure the hot guy was not just saying "hey, that chick is checking me out!"?
JUST KIDDING.

Posted by: aging mom | January 3, 2007 5:42 PM

Damn, between eating government cheese, working my way through school and helping my mom clean up after people, I somehow missed white privilege.

Maybe our government cheese was better than the cheese they handed out in other neighborhoods. I doubt it, but that could be it.

I am not saying that white privilege doesn't exist; it just doesn't exist for all whites. Really, I thought long and hard about my life today after it was posted and no where in it does it exist for me.


Posted by: scarry | January 3, 2007 5:52 PM

Bexie -- thanks for the points you made, and I am sorry for the crap you've had to put up with (in addition to all that debt from a state school!). I also get tired of all the crap I have to put up with based on superficialities.

What you're saying is so nuanced and I get it, 'cause I see the same things in my neighborhood, too. Why should I have to drive across town or across the river for amenities that are within walking distance for people in other neighborhoods?

The thing I learned from the Bill Cosby discussion was that some people think he's right. Others disagree. But some feel that while his points are valid, it should not be used as a "scapegoat" to excuse racism and prejudice and blame the people who have been affected by it.

There is a feeling that Ellis Cose pointed out in "The Rage of a Privileged Class" when discussing the anger many middle-class African-Americans feel: "I have done everything they have asked of me...what more do they want?"

Sometimes (speaking from observation and experience), those of us who have succeeded feel we have given and sacrificed a lot to make it in careers, as parents and as citizens, but that full acceptance in American society lies just outside our reach. This NYT story is one of those instances -- to me -- where that full acceptance appears to be just beyond our outstretched fingers.

I truly hope that those of us who were willing to offer discussion and truly seek answers were educated in some way, as I was. I'd also be glad to discuss with you as well, in person and civilly, if you wish.

Posted by: dirrtysw | January 3, 2007 5:56 PM

I'm sure I am opening up a world of attacks here, but I really want to know the answer to this question: why does the term "African American" persist? In my opinion, if you were born in america, and raised in america, you're an American. I am only a second generation american (my grandparents were immigrants), but no one would consider calling me "Austrian American". Yet, black families that have been here for hundreds of years are still called "African American". I really believe that this tereminology adds to the problem.

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 5:59 PM

This is like red meat to the liberals, racism, class divisions etc. Say sayanora to any real debate. The race card is too strong.

Posted by: pATRICK | January 3, 2007 6:01 PM

Thanks dirrtysw. I appreciate yours (and other) comments that were productive. Unfortunately I live in pittsburgh, so meeting in person would be a bit difficult. But your offer is much appreciated.

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 6:02 PM

I have a little bit of insight into the subject of insidious, hidden racism, which I think still exists, although it's in the closet now. It is no longer considered okay to be openly racist (thank goodness). But we still have a ways to go.

I am hispanic of mostly European descent, so I don't look obviously hispanic. I look more italian than anything else. I also don't speak with an accent. So people sometimes say things to me that they would never say if they knew I was hispanic. One day for example, before my son started kindergarten, I took him to the park and ended up chatting with the mother of the little boy who was playing with him. It turned out we lived in the same neighborhood and she asked what school my son would be attending, and I told her, school A. Her son was assigned a different school (School B) which is also in the same neighborhood, but in a very slightly less affluent area. She began complaining that when she went to the kindergarten orientation, there were only a few white kids in the group, and everyone else was either asian, hispanic, or black, and how she wished they were within the boundaries of school A because she did not want her son to be outnumbered by all the asians and hispanics.

This is not the first time someone has unwittingly exposed their racism to me, thinking that somehow, I was one of them. I have no doubt whatsoever that African Americans experience myriad slights, rudenesses, affronts, indignities, and insults because of the latent racism that still exists in society. It will take a few generations at least for us to re-educate those who are still racist, and for those who grew up in a time when racism was tolerated to die off.

Posted by: Emily | January 3, 2007 6:03 PM

Why do you think it is so hard to believe given the differences in cultures between whites, blacks, asians and hispanics that some people of any race would rather stay within that group? I don't condone it because you miss out on a lot of nice people but I do understand it.

Posted by: pATRICK | January 3, 2007 6:06 PM

"Sometimes (speaking from observation and experience), those of us who have succeeded feel we have given and sacrificed a lot to make it in careers, as parents and as citizens, but that full acceptance in American society lies just outside our reach. This NYT story is one of those instances -- to me -- where that full acceptance appears to be just beyond our outstretched fingers."

dirrtysw, you just put into words the reason I got so ticked off by the posters today whose attitude was basically, why should I care what rich folks have to deal with?

This whole thing doesn't seem trivial to me at all -- in fact, it seems to send a pretty powerful message, precisely because of the socioeconomic class involved. I mean, we're talking about people who worked hard, did well in school, busted their butts on the job -- basically, did everything "right," everything that society told them to do to succeed in life. And at the end of the day, they still can't find a nanny because of the color of their skin.

So in other words, this story signals that no matter what good things you have done and accomplished in your life, the color of your skin is going to outweigh everything else. How is that NOT hugely discouraging?

Posted by: Laura | January 3, 2007 6:12 PM

Laura unfortunately that is true. Part of the problem is that people like yourself pay for the sins of others. The hip hop culture, the high incarceration rate, low graduation rates all influence how blacks are perceived. I think for some people all that is a pretty high hurdle to overcome.

Posted by: pATRICK | January 3, 2007 6:25 PM

Emily - I really thought your comment was interesting. A good friend of mine is currently on a Fulbright scholarship in mexico studying mexican/american relationships. So, while I'm not claiming to have her vast knowledge, I have paid some attention to the recent media attention to hispanic immigration in America. I think the difference between black racism and hispanic racism is that it is still culturally acceptable, and in some places promoted, to be racist against hispanics. I work in a physics-based research lab. My coworkers consist of: 3 whites, 1 black, 1 puerto rican, and 10 asians. My field is absolutely dominated by asians, and it shocks me how many horrible things I hear about asians from people who would never make a black-directed racist comment. It has been immensly educating to me to work with 11 non-american born people. Not only to learn about their cultures, but to learn what they think about our culture.

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 6:30 PM

On the remarks by scarry:

I don't know your whole background, or if this applies to you, but there is certainly blatant prejudice in the country against "Appalacians" and persons from similar backgrounds. Why is it ok to use the term "white trash" for example? Is it really ok to refer to anyone as trash? I grew up in a town of people predominantly of this background. We were bused to the nearest high school, where you were automatically tracked into "vocational" track, not to mention all sorts of other blatant stereotyping and not-to-subtle ways of showing that you were "worth less" than others. All boys from my town were expected to drop out at 16 and assumed to be hoodlums by definition.
It is still thought to be ok to make fun of people of Appalacian background as if they are some kind of subhumans. Tell me if any of the nannies in this article would work for parents with an strong Appalacian accent, no matter how worthy they might be.

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | January 3, 2007 6:43 PM

Bexie you make some points that are off the mark in the real world. Those buses had all those things HAPPEN to them. They did not roll off the line with broken windows, smells etc. The people who rode on them DID that to them. Second. The "white store" probably is more profitable and in more competition with other stores. It has to upgrade or go out of business. The "black" store may be a money loser that is kept open for PR purposes only. You sound like a 5 year old wandering out in the world for the first time.

Posted by: pATRICK | January 3, 2007 7:02 PM

whoa, so much to say...

emily, echo sympathies...i read once that 70% of women experience a miscarriage at some point, often not knowing they were pregnant. it is so common but you don't know that until it happens to you.

moxie mom and nc lawyer, i would hire a manny (whom i liked and trusted) in a second. have many friends who feel differently. still a whole lot of bias against men being good childcare providers...

interesting point about bias by agencies...seems like people who find nannies through word-of-mouth instead have found a way to circumvent prejudice. also heard from one friend whose AA friend started an agency that specializes in helping AA families find nannies.

have heard that some kinds of prejudice also exist for hispanic moms and nannies.

Posted by: Leslie | January 3, 2007 7:28 PM

pATRICK - Who is to say that the busses that get beat up over time don't get re-assigned to the black routes, and the new buses that replace them are assigned to the white routes? Another piece of evidence: my city is replacing its fleet with natural gas busses, so it's easy to tell the slightly old from the brand new.

The "black" store is by no means a money loser. There are, and I am not kidding, often traffic backups because there are not enough parking spaces in the lot. The nice new store is one of two pilot "upgraded" stores that are both situated in "nice" white neighborhoods.

I am hardly a 5 year old, and it is really immature for you to be like that. I am however 24, and admittedly somewhat niave. That's why I'm here - to learn.

Posted by: Bexie | January 3, 2007 7:29 PM

We won't know whether they are reassigned or not. My complaint was your theory that there are simple conspiracies. Business is about making money and that is what drives most decisions. That "black' store may be the only one around and that maybe why it is crowded, but that does not necessarily mean it is profitable or even fits into the company plans. There are many things at work in the world and too many want to cry racism at every turn. The world is messy and that was my point. I often find people your age have been somewhat programmed to believe a knee jerk reaction to social problems that have been instilled by a liberal media and university system. Perhaps it was too harsh too call you a 5 year old. I apologize.

Posted by: pATRICK to Bexie | January 3, 2007 7:43 PM

"Bexie -- thanks for the points you made, and I am sorry for the crap you've had to put up with (in addition to all that debt from a state school!)."

Fred and NC Lawyer, where are you? This sure sounds like a discriminatory remark against state schools. As if a state school can't be as good as or better than many private schools.

I find it ironic coming from someone who feels upset at being "prejudged". You could have said "in addition to all the student loan debt" without dragging state school into it.

Posted by: jab | January 3, 2007 8:02 PM

we are watching the Sugar Bowl!

Beer, Beer for old Notre Dame!

Posted by: Fred | January 3, 2007 8:25 PM

A few things:

I'm black and I find the term, African-American simplistic and a little bothersome. First, all blacks are not African American, and all African Americans are not black. Culturally, Carribbean blacks are different from European blacks, who are different from East, West or sub-Saharan African blacks. And second, I don't have any connection to Africa, other than an affinity for the French language and Morrocan food. It's OK to call me black. I prefer it, others, however prefer AA.

• All people have prejudices, black, white, purple and green. I agree that it is part of human nature, and that doesn't make you a card-carrying member of the Klan. I think a lot of people get that. But when people sit by and don't their address their friends', coworkers' bigotry is to basically accept it. For example, one of my contractors made a tasteless, bigoted "joke" about about gays. I was mortified and then wondered, "what kind of jokes does he tell about me, or the Asian guy we work with?" I refused to renew his contract. Some of my coworkers were appalled that I called him a bigot. "Contractor is just old school," they said. So that makes it OK? By continuing to work with this fool, we endorse his views, and what does that say about us?

• To the door-locker: Black folks lock their doors when someone dubious approaches their cars, too. Remember, blacks are much, much likelier to be victims of crime than whites. Thing is, people lock their doors or grab their purses when my suit-and-tie wearing husband crosses the street or gets on an elevator.

• Back to the childcare discussion: I think a lot of this could be solved if employers received some sort of tax-break if they offer on-site day care.

Posted by: jrobin | January 3, 2007 8:35 PM

Emily, I am so sorry for your loss. I will be thinking of you tonight.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 3, 2007 8:44 PM


That css 7, private school 0. Looking good for a 1/2 day off for me!

Posted by: Fred | January 3, 2007 8:48 PM

"In college I enrolled in 'classic slavery literature'. At the end of the first lecture, the African American professor came up to me and suggested that it would be 'better for everyone' if I dropped the class. I kept the books and have read them, but I did not get to benefit from the discussion."

How unprofessional of that professor. I took one of those classes with another African American professor, and there were a whole bunch of white students in the class who stayed for the whole term. We all got to benefit from the discussion, essay feedback, rigorous grading, etc.

"'Bexie -- thanks for the points you made, and I am sorry for the crap you've had to put up with (in addition to all that debt from a state school!).'"

"Fred and NC Lawyer, where are you? This sure sounds like a discriminatory remark against state schools. As if a state school can't be as good as or better than many private schools."

...or as if a high-quality state school is usually less expensive than a high-quality private school. The impression I got from reading Bexie's description was less "I still had to borrow a ton even for an inexpensive school!", not "I still had to borrow a ton even for a second-class school!"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 3, 2007 9:08 PM

To jab: I don't think that it was a put-down of the quality of state schools. State schools usually have lower tuition than private schools so $54K of debt would seem high for a state school graduate.

To Patrick: I agree with Bexie on the MetroBus issue. Once, while riding the P12 ( a predominantly black route), the driver said that he did not want to take that route because they (Metro) always sent the busses with broken a/c units to that route or similar ones. His comment fit with my experience riding MetroBus, so I believed him. As far as this issue goes, a Metro employee is your most credible source.

Posted by: midanae | January 3, 2007 9:51 PM

Fred,

I was hoping I wouldn't have to stay up past midnight to cheer (burp) the c.s.s guys to victory, but at 27-14, I'm packing it in and relying on prayer --- hmmm. that might not work against notre dame.

jab, I'm cutting Bexie a break on this one. I understood her comment to indicate that she mistakenly thought a c.s.s. would be cheaper than a private school. Most importantly, Bexie doesn't deserve to be assigned to the elite school cave with COTC.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 3, 2007 11:29 PM

"In my opinion, if you were born in america, and raised in america, you're an American."

PC-ness, Bexie, that's all. We want to be "color blind" so we don't allow ourselves to identify anyone by color. I agree with you, though. I had a great time introducing my Asian boyfriend to my family and his response to "Where are you from?" being "California."

Posted by: Mona | January 4, 2007 12:46 AM

Emily, so sorry to hear about your missed abortion, but I'm glad to hear you're doing relatively well. You seem to have a really healthy, balanced outlook on life, and you'll be a great mother someday. :-) Hang in there, we're all pulling for you!

Posted by: Mona | January 4, 2007 12:47 AM

Sorry if I misinterpreted the remark regarding the cost of state schools. I find it much easier to "get" the tone of the spoken word than the written word.

Posted by: jab | January 4, 2007 7:14 AM

Mona - a day late, is it possible your relatives were asking where your asian boyfriend is from because it is possible he is not from where they are from? Or the area they are in? Why assume it is because he is asian?

I ask people where they are from all the time regardless of their race because the Wash DC area is so transient. Also, if someone has an accent - southern or northern - I figure they are from a different part of the state or country. I find it interesting to find out how they ended up here as the majority of residents are from somewhere else. I am an oddity in Northern VA - I am from here and stayed here. When I visit relatives in OH or Pa they think I have an accent - so if someone were to ask me where I was from when visiting them I would not be insulted.

Posted by: CMAC | January 4, 2007 8:06 AM

Diane,

I've heard white trash my whole life. I grew up poor, but really didn't realize it until my dad lost his job in the coal mines when I was in high school. We always had food and my mom always made sure we had nice school clothes (credit) I come from proud people and taking that government cheese wasn't easy for my mom and my dad didn't want to even hear about it. Poor people in this country are in it together, whether they are black or white, Hispanic or Asian. I know that racism exits because I have experienced it firsthand, but it's not everyone and the good people far out weigh the bad. By the way I grew up in Northeast Ohio, not quite Appalachia, but it is getting there. The only thing that keeps that area going is GM and the plants that feed off GM. I was lucky though I went to college and got out. Now I just have to worry about the rest of my family.

Bexie,

Lot of people besides African Americans are hyphenated Americans. I find it hard to believe that in Pittsburgh you don't run across Irish Americans, Italian American, Polish Americans, German Americans, etc.

I agree with most of what you said yesterday, but not this point. Being an American means you can be anything you want, including and African American.

Posted by: scarry | January 4, 2007 8:23 AM

"A parent's decision to choose a nanny based on religion or race is not illegal. It may be sad. It's probably despicable. But it's not illegal. I don't know of any law that requires or forbids you, or me, or anyone else to use race or religion as criteria to choose a particular nanny.

On the other hand, a nanny agency that refuses to serve someone because of perceptions that their prospective customer(s) is (are) of a particular race or religion is violating discrimination law. It's only a matter of time before that agency upsets the wrong person and gets sued or winds up the target of a nasty investigation by a human rights commission. An individual nanny may be a different story since she is not representing an agency.

Get the distinction?"

No, I don't. First, we are talking about nannies making choices - not agencies. I'm not aware of any law "that requires or forbids you, or me, or anyone else to use race or religion as criteria to choose a particular" employer.

Second, saying straight up that intentional racism on the part of a parent isn't as bad as the presummed racism on the part of a nanny, just because it isn't illegal, strikes me as ridiculous. Was corporate racism somehow "not as bad" before the Civil Rights Act was passed. Was slavery somehow less morally objectionable because it was legal? It's certainly possible to take those positions, because you at those times you didn't add the additional aspect of lawbreaking. But those are certainly not positions typically taken by those who're trying to fight racism.

Posted by: Bizarre | January 4, 2007 9:37 AM

"However when judged as a group because of skin color, religious preference, sexual preference, etc., it's hard for me to believe that a person is simply rude."

That was really my point. People are rude, obnoxious, manipulative and just downright mean and abusive to each other all the time. It's easy to assume that it's due to your race, religion, sexual preference, political orientation, education or income - but if you followed the person responsible around, in many cased you'd be shocked to see just how indiscriminate they are in their offenses.

It sounds as, when someone is rude or obnoxious to you, you find it difficult to not suspect racism. When they step around the corner and are equally obnoxious to me, I don't have that option - I'm forced to assume that they're just a freewheeling SOB (or don't like Republicans, or Southerners, or Math Nerds, etc.).

Bottom line, I think you'd be surprised how often the freewheeling SOB hypothesis is correct.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 9:52 AM

If you see this board today---thank you for your insightful comments. I agree with you totally.

And I thought the comments by the poster who wrote that you can do everything in your power to be successful, work your butt off and still not achieve the same level of respect as the dominent class. As a woman I can relate to that. If I were a man, I'd be in a higher level position, no doubt. But I decided some time ago not to concentrate on those feelings and to continue to achieve. I have great hope when I see people like Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker of the House and Hillary Clinton being taken seriously as a presidential candidate. One day, color and gender will not matter....

Posted by: To: Beni Dakar | January 4, 2007 10:30 AM

"If I were a man, I'd be in a higher level position, no doubt."

Really? How can you know that? There's good research showing a correlation between men's wages and their height. I'm a couple of inches shorter than average, but making well over $100,000 as a consultant in Northern Virginia. If I were 5'11'' or six feet instead, would I be in a higher level position making more money? Have I hit a "height ceiling"?

It's one thing to say "on average" or "there's a correlation" - it's entirely another to say that "If I were . . . then . . . no doubt."

And no, I don't think:

- that being short is morally equivalent to being a woman;

- that I've suffered from "height discrimination";

- that the "vertically challenged" should be somehow protected;

- or that the correlation between height and earnings is an especially significant social issue.

Though I do wonder if anyone has ever studied how much of the differential between male and female wages can be explained by height ;-)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 12:18 PM

"I have great hope when I see people like Nancy Pelosi becoming Speaker of the House and Hillary Clinton being taken seriously as a presidential candidate. One day, color and gender will not matter...."

I sincerely hope that day will never come. Not that I'm a racist - I just want to see Condi in the oval office instead (with Michael Steele as veep).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 12:19 PM

I sincerely hope that day will never come. Not that I'm a racist - I just want to see Condi in the oval office instead (with Michael Steele as veep).

Good luck with that.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 12:32 PM

Ok, bring height into the discussion. I don't think it affects women as much as men, but yes it's an issue for us too. I'm just under the average height for a woman and I do feel that women in "power" are taller.

But I know what I am talking about. I was an interim head of a big division, was told by my boss that I was doing an outstanding job, but another official in the company told me that they wanted "a man" for the position. Needless to say I left many months ago and they can't fill the position (stupid, stupid people). Perhaps if I stayed, I would have been named as the permanent head, but really, do I want to be at a place like that? I've been at another placed where inappropriate sexist things were said to me (and others) and my accomplishments discounted. More senior women told me that it was because I was smart and a woman and therefore a threat to certain people. I find in my new position I behave much differently---more deferential so as to not be viewed as a threat. And I've never been anything but cordial and polite in my career--perhaps being confident as a woman leader is seen negatively. Does this happen to men? I think not. What about the fact that the males in my office today went off to lunch together at the same time as I did and didn't invite me. I've got a whole list of blatently and subtle sexist things that have happened to me (and other women). So yes, the workplace is sexist, the glass ceiling exists and until there is enough women in power to seem commonplace and ordinary, many of us will be held down.

Posted by: To anon at 12:18 | January 4, 2007 1:05 PM

"I just want to see Condi in the oval office instead (with Michael Steele as veep)."

Condeleeza Rice as president? give me a break. She has no integrity--she drank the cool-aid long ago. Just what we need, another failed administration. And we don't need someone whose only qualification is that he loves puppies either.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 1:08 PM

"give me a break. She has no integrity--she drank the cool-aid long ago."

And so you like HILLARY? Yeah, riiiiight . . .

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 2:22 PM

"So yes, the workplace is sexist, the glass ceiling exists and until there is enough women in power to seem commonplace and ordinary, many of us will be held down."

Mebbe. On the other hand, I'm a middle-aged male professional, and more than half my bosses have been women. The president of the last firm I worked for was a woman, and the managing director of the consulting office I'm working for now is a woman - as was her immediate predicessor. At least in the places I've been, if there's a ceiling, it's been a pretty d--n high one.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 2:27 PM

Your experience is your experience. In my field, there are not nearly as many women leaders as expected being that we are 50% or more of the field. Granted the ceiling does go higher and higher over time. I'm guessing your bosses are middle managers as opposed to CEOs or the "top" boss in your field. Precious few female CEOs, women on company boards, and in my field, not enough women as heads of departments.

In academia, there are precious few women who are full professors despite the fact that in many fields more than 1/2 the people in these fields are women. When I was in academia, when I was up for promotion (tenure), despite having more experience than anyone else going up (all men) and better quality publications and grants, I was told that I wasn't "ready". Thankfully, there were women on the committee who saw what was happening and put my promotion forward (I was told this later by some of these women who were incensed). At the place I last worked, I was the only woman on the organization's executive committee. This was the place that wanted a man in my position. Just because your experience is the way it is where you are doesn't mean it is generalizable.

Posted by: To anon 2:27 | January 4, 2007 3:11 PM

"And so you like HILLARY? Yeah, riiiiight . . ."

I love Sen. Clinton. I think she is terrific. Smart, poised, a true leader. You are being sarcastic because?? She is very well liked and has won her state by large margins twice. Sheesh.

Posted by: To anon 2:22 | January 4, 2007 3:13 PM

"Just because your experience is the way it is where you are doesn't mean it is generalizable."

- This is true for you, too.

Posted by: anonfornow | January 4, 2007 3:51 PM

"Just because your experience is the way it is where you are doesn't mean it is generalizable."
- This is true for you, too."

Yep. But there is also a lot of published evidence confirming my experience. In my field, it is a very well discussed problem. So, while you are right, you are really wrong.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 4:54 PM

"You are being sarcastic because?? She is very well liked and has won her state by large margins twice. Sheesh."

I'm being sarcastic because she comes with as much political baggage as anyone else on the planet; because she's closely associated with an administration that many believe was profoundly corrupt; because while she is "very well liked" by many died-in-the-wool Democrats, she has an equal number of people who can't stand her; because while New Yorkers have elected her twice, putting her on the ticket means the Democrats will automatically lose the South and much of the Southwest.

"Sheesh" indeed.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 5:40 PM

"I'm guessing your bosses are middle managers as opposed to CEOs or the "top" boss in your field. Precious few female CEOs, women on company boards, and in my field, not enough women as heads of departments."

You'd be wrong. I work in a very technical, mathematical profession. Professional education is incredibly important - if you can pass the tests, you're golden. If you can't, you're out. Once fully credentialed, marrying technical expertise with people skills and good communications make you golden. Otherwise, you stay a number cruncher. Women with the mathematical skills and background to cut the technical mustard tend to do quite, quite well.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 5:47 PM

I'm being sarcastic because she comes with as much political baggage as anyone else on the planet; because she's closely associated with an administration that many believe was profoundly corrupt; because while she is "very well liked" by many died-in-the-wool Democrats, she has an equal number of people who can't stand her; because while New Yorkers have elected her twice, putting her on the ticket means the Democrats will automatically lose the South and much of the Southwest.

"Sheesh" indeed.

oh yeah, and those southerners will be lining up to elect a black ticket? I thought everyone was racist?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 4, 2007 10:17 PM

"she's closely associated with an administration that many believe was profoundly corrupt"

that is a joke, right? We are in the midst of one of the most corrupt administrations in history! She is the wife of a president who was one of the best in the modern era. Clinton did some stupid things and he was smeared by the political hacks, but he will be viewed by history very favorably. We had some of the best economic times ever. The current president has sent thousands of young soldiers to their deaths based on lies and distortions. Bush will be viewed as one of the worst presidents ever.

Sen. Clinton appears "unelectable" to those who hate the fact that a woman has power. Many of us believe this. She is smart, saavy and disciplined. Can not apply any of these to the current administration.

And, no one ever thought that as many midwestern and western "red" states would elect as many democrats as they did. She is a moderate who has a good shot. People are sick of the current corrupt and incompetent administration and would be happy for a change. Even those in the very red states.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 8:07 AM

"Professional education is incredibly important - if you can pass the tests, you're golden. If you can't, you're out. Once fully credentialed, marrying technical expertise with people skills and good communications make you golden"

Well, I don't know what field you are in, but in every other field this is not true for women. I've been at high level meetings discussing hiring, promoting and the male leadership will say point blank that we should not consider a female candidate for hire or promotion because "she's just going to have children anyway...." I can't count how many times I've heard this. I've put women up for promotion only to be told "she is not ready" by my supervisors despite the fact she is 2-3 times more qualified than the males in the department. How come various workplaces and universities find it necessary to have programs to look at the issue of discrimination in the workplace/academia? Why does the front page of the newspaper talk about the fact that Nancy Pelosi "broke through the marble ceiling"? If women in leadership roles were commonplace and accepted, the issue would not be discussed nor front page news. It's because it is a problem that it is discussed.

You may want to get your head out of the sand and realize that this is a big problem for professional women. Citing a few anecdotes doesn't discount this. I hope that people with your point of view do not assume leadership roles.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 8:16 AM

". . . but in every other field this is not true for women. I've been at high level meetings . . . "

Really? EVERY other field? Jut how many meetings have you been in - and in how many fields?

"How come various workplaces and universities find it necessary to have programs to look at the issue of discrimination in the workplace/academia? "

In some cases, because there's a very real history of discrimination. In others, because they're afraid someone's gonna sue their butts. In still others, because we're so PC that we've come to believe that it's "the right thing to do" - whether we have any evidence of ongoing discrimination or not.

"Why does the front page of the newspaper talk about the fact that Nancy Pelosi "broke through the marble ceiling"?"

Because that's what everyone's saying, and newspapers report what people are saying. It's the way she's pitching it, her handlers are pitching it, and her political party is pitching it.

Did anyone seriously doubt that it was going to happen? Did anyone seriously argue that she shouldn't get the job because she's a woman? No - of course not. It was just a matter of time until one of the women currently in politics worked her way up to the post.

"You may want to get your head out of the sand and realize that this is a big problem for professional women. Citing a few anecdotes doesn't discount this. I hope that people with your point of view do not assume leadership roles. "

I don't know what struggles you've faced in the past. But you may want to get your head out of the 1960's. A girl graduating from High School today is more likely to attend and graduate from college than the boy sitting next to her in class (who is less likely to graduate with her to begin with). She's more likely to enter the job market with the education she needs to get a professional job. This is a complete flip from the situation 40 years ago - and will have inevitable consequences.

You won. Shooting your captives is unseemly.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 9:11 AM

"oh yeah, and those southerners will be lining up to elect a black ticket? I thought everyone was racist?"

No, my point all along has been that we're way too quick to cry racism. Understand, I'm a middle-aged, Republican white man who was raised in the deep south, now living in Maryland, who voted for Michael Steel the last two times he ran. Heck yeah, we'll vote for an African-American - just not a liberal one. I don't care about his skin color - I care about is politics.

"that is a joke, right? We are in the midst of one of the most corrupt administrations in history! She is the wife of a president who was one of the best in the modern era. Clinton did some stupid things and he was smeared by the political hacks, but he will be viewed by history very favorably. We had some of the best economic times ever. The current president has sent thousands of young soldiers to their deaths based on lies and distortions. Bush will be viewed as one of the worst presidents ever."

No, it's not a joke. I deeply believe that Bill Clinton's personal behavior was reprehensible, and an embarassment to the nation. I do not care what his positions were on "women's issues" - the way he treated individual women was beyond the pale. The way Hillary made excuses for him disgusted me.

Understand, I remember Packwood. When the accusations against him first came out, my first reaction was "he couldn't have really done that, they're just out to get him." But when it became clear that he had in fact behaved as charged, I came to the conclusion that he had to go. Frankly, I lost all respect for liberal Democrats when they were unwilling to do the same with Clinton. I'm no hypocrit - if someone I support is guilty of sexual harassment, as far as I'm concerned, they've got to go. But the Democrats, who claim to support women, aren't willing to do the same thing - they're more interested in the vote on "women's issues" than they are in how a person actually behaves towards specific women.

Beyond that, I of course have a very different view than you do of the policies of the Clinton administration. But I certainly do not "hate the fact that a woman has power" - Condi is wonderful, as are many other Republic women. But I'm not about to vote for a liberal Democrat who tried to cover for a philandering, sexually harassing husband by blaming it all on a "vast right wing conspiracy."

Besides, you should use your terms more carefully. There's a difference between ill-conceived policies (such as choosing the wrong war, or mishandling the aftermath) and corruption (shall we talk Whitewater again?).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 9:25 AM

"don't know what struggles you've faced in the past. But you may want to get your head out of the 1960's. A girl graduating from High School today is more likely to attend and graduate from college than the boy sitting next to her in class (who is less likely to graduate with her to begin with). She's more likely to enter the job market with the education she needs to get a professional job"

Well that is true, but you're mixing apples and oranges. I'm not talking about girls having the right/ability to go to school, etc. This has happened over the years because girls have earned the right through their abilities and hardwork. I'm talking about the problems women face AFTER they have attained their degrees and attempt to go beyond the junior levels. I'm in a professional field. I went through many years of school and was able to move into nice positions at a junior level, it's been harder to move up because of subtle discrimination. I was a "star" at the junior level. My evalulations were uniformly outstanding. When I was being put up for promotion in an academic setting, one of the people on the committee remarked that my CV was twice as long as the other candidates, all male. Yet I was told that I "wasn't ready" (by a male in leadership who barely knew me so you can't say it was lack of social skills or whatnot). Thankfully, there were enough people on the committee to override this and I was promoted. So more than half of the college and professional schools are women, then how come less than 10% of full professors are women? How come far fewer women get tenure? And I have many other things that have happened to me personally that were discriminatory. So being told by my former employer that they "preferred a man" in my position is not discriminatory? This happens every day everywhere, but most people are not so stupid as to articulate it as bluntly. Typically the "boys" all hang out together---males in leadership mentor people like themselves--this gives junior males an advantage women don't have. So the goodies go to the mentored boys and the girls are left out of getting what they need to ascend the leadership ladder. There must be ways to "level the playing field" and I may not know what they are exactly, but we need to recognize that it is harder for women to move to the higher levels of power than men--no matter how qualified and wonderful she is. When I meet with other women in my profession, we always say we need to be 2-3 times better than the boys to get what they have.

But I don't base my arguments on only my experience. There are enough studies that demonstrate that discrimination still exists in the workplace and if people are saying it and the newspapers are printing it, it's true. Duh. When it stops needing to be mentioned, when workplaces don't feel that they need to address the issue, then maybe things will be equal.

And by the way, workplaces don't have to fear the legal system and "cover their butts". Our EEOC laws are weak---the advantage is totally with the employer. The only cases that seem to be take seriously are the ones where the discrimination is so blatant and the employer does absolutely nothing about it that the law cannot ignore it. And even then, employers get off easy.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 11:11 AM

"There's a difference between ill-conceived policies (such as choosing the wrong war, or mishandling the aftermath) and corruption (shall we talk Whitewater again?)."

Bush didn't just "choose a wrong war", he misused, skewed and made up evidence for going to war. Cheney duped Colin Powell so that Powell misrepresented the "evidence" about Iraq so that congress would vote for a war. That's not corrupt? What about all of the non-competitive contracts going to friends of Cheney? What about the secret energy meetings? Putting unqualified friends into national security positions? All corruption.

And since when is persistent mishandling of security issues ok? Sounds like a little moral relativism to me.

And the Clintons are moderates, not liberals. Sorry to disappoint you. No doubt many politicians are creeps (men with power behave badly), but if you were to keep score, I think the Republicans win hands down in the morally corrupt, hypocritical department.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 11:19 AM

"And since when is persistent mishandling of security issues ok?"

I never said that it's o.k. But even being a complete and total screw-up on the job is a far cry from using it to sexually harass women.

"And the Clintons are moderates, not liberals."

For a sufficiently broad definition of "moderate" - and depending on which side of the middle you're looking at it from.

"I think the Republicans win hands down in the morally corrupt, hypocritical department."

So you've said. Here's my challenge, though. I'll gladly throw our Bob Packwoods to the wolves. Packwood's misconduct - sexual harassment in the workplace - was morally wrong and he had to go. It was simply intollerable. Are you willing to disown Bill Clinton for his sexual misconduct in the workplace?

If not, your moral protestations ring entirely hollow. Frankly, the only leading Democrat I've been able to respect since the Clinton fiasco has been Lieberman - he appears to be a genuinely moral man.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 1:50 PM

"I'm talking about the problems women face AFTER they have attained their degrees and attempt to go beyond the junior levels."

I am too. The world has changed. The cohorts of professionals now entering the most productive periods of their careers are starting to become more more female than male. The pipeline is now more full of qualified, talented women than men. Why did we not have a female speaker in 1960? Because we didn't have the pipeline of qualified female Representatives that we have now.

"So more than half of the college and professional schools are women, then how come less than 10% of full professors are women? How come far fewer women get tenure?"

Because academic world is hypocritical beyond almost any other environment on the planet. I absolutely hate being lectured about this sort of thing by academics, because that environment manages to be viralantly clannish and intollerant, all the while claiming to be almost superhumanly politically correct, open-minded and fair.

"Typically the "boys" all hang out together---males in leadership mentor people like themselves--this gives junior males an advantage women don't have."

So women try to create "old-girls" networks. Winners look for talent and help where ever they can find it.

"So being told by my former employer that they "preferred a man" in my position is not discriminatory? "

He's an idiot. How long ago did it happen? Fact is, most places would fire his butt these days.

"When I meet with other women in my profession, we always say we need to be 2-3 times better than the boys to get what they have."

Yeah - and men say that if they look at a woman crosswise they'll be hauled up on a harassment charge. Just because people are saying it doesn't make it true - or, could it be that both are right? Whatever - the world has change drastically since I entered the job market several decades ago. Where serious discrimination still exists, we should fight it. But things have changed - and when you don't recognize that, or refuse to talk about it, it becomes very difficult to take you seriously.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 4:10 PM

Well, I see that you are not going to convince me, a woman who has repeatedly suffered discrimination nor will I convince you a male who just doesn't get it. It may be a better, changed world for women (I can vote! I can own my own home!), but discrimination still exists and it is my opinion that you are not intelligent enough to recognize that.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 7:28 PM

Clinton might have been a skank on a personal level but he was a very good president and Bush makes him look even better. If I had to choose, I'd prefer the president do what Clinton did as opposed to be responsible for the unnecessary deaths of over 3,000 of our soldiers for a war based on lies and incompetently run one at that.

With regard to the Dems vs. Repubs in the scumbag dept: let's see: Abramoff (to the WH 75 times), Foley, DeLay, Cunningham, DeWine, Rove, Libby, need I go on?

I know people in this WH and in the federal departments who have been through several administrations. These are career people, not politicos and I'm told that this has been the most morally bankrupt administration. They have not seen so much incompetent cronyism in other (democratic and Republican) administrations. I'm told that the government ran better under Clinton too.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 5, 2007 7:36 PM

" . . . will I convince you a male who just doesn't get it . . . is my opinion that you are not intelligent enough to recognize that."

Well, this is the last resort of the person who's ideas are bankrupt. There's a traditional script:

First, claim that "you just don't get it"

Next, insult the other side's intelligence,

Then walk away with a smug sense of self-satisfaction.

I hope you don't forget the step of huddling with your cronies afterwards and bonding with the cry of "can you believe what that neanderthal said?"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 9, 2007 2:00 PM

"With regard to the Dems vs. Repubs in the scumbag dept: let's see: Abramoff (to the WH 75 times), Foley, DeLay, Cunningham, DeWine, Rove, Libby, need I go on?"

You're dodging, by trying to say "oh well, sure - but you've got more of them."

That's not the point. I'm willing to disown politicians who use their office to take advantage of young women.

You are not.

Why not?

Posted by: Republican | January 9, 2007 3:29 PM

"With regard to the Dems vs. Repubs in the scumbag dept: let's see: Abramoff (to the WH 75 times), Foley, DeLay, Cunningham, DeWine, Rove, Libby, need I go on?"

You're trying to dodge the issue with Clinton by saying "yeah, well - you've got more bad guys on your side."

Posted by: Republican | January 9, 2007 3:42 PM

"With regard to the Dems vs. Repubs in the scumbag dept: let's see: Abramoff (to the WH 75 times), Foley, DeLay, Cunningham, DeWine, Rove, Libby, need I go on?"

You're trying to justify Clinton by saying "yeah, well - you've got more bad guys on your side."

That doesn't work. Bottom line, I'm willing to abandon politicians who use their positions to take advantage of young women.

You are not.

Why not?

Posted by: Republican | January 9, 2007 3:43 PM

Sorry about the triple post - the system is being flaky today.

Posted by: Republican | January 9, 2007 3:48 PM

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