Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Who is Responsible?

Yesterday I was reading the New York Times and an ad caught my eye. It outlined a scenario that asks the reader what they'd do if they saw a nanny seeming to mistreat the child under her care. It offered several choices and referred you to something called The Responsibility Project.

Me being me, my mind went off on a tangent that was unrelated to the project's actual purpose. My first thought was: how very New York City. Not a mother mistreating a child, but a nanny.

What signals to a person that a woman with a child is a nanny and not the child's actual mother? (Having lived in NYC, I know what often signals this and can spot what I am sure is a nanny in a NY minute.) Would you feel differently if the woman you thought was mistreating a child was the child's mother and not the nanny? How would someone's intervention (of lack therof) change if it was not an employee, but a parent mistreating a child? Why didn't they simply ask what someone would do if they saw a child being mistreated?

And being a person of color, I try not to think that there is prejudice in every scenario, but I saw the possibility for it here. Nannies come in all colors of course and sometimes they share a cultural background with their charges and sometimes they do not. A friend who lives in that area has told me that she is often mistaken as being the nanny for her own child because their skin colors differ.

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