Easier to get a nanny for her baby than a black child
Nanny Hunt Can Be a ‘Slap in the Face’ for Blacks
By JODI KANTOR
Published: December 26, 2006
Last month, Jennifer Freeman sat in a Chicago coffee bar, counting her blessings and considering her problem. She had a husband with an M.B.A. degree, two children and a job offer that would let her dig out the education degree she had stashed away during years of playdates and potty training.
But she could not accept the job. After weeks of searching, Ms. Freeman, who is African-American, still could not find a nanny for her son, 5, and daughter, 3. Agency after agency told her they had no one to send to her South Side home.
As more blacks move up the economic ladder, one fixture — some would say necessity — of the upper-middle-class income bracket often eludes them. Like hailing a cab in Midtown Manhattan, searching for a nanny can be an exasperating, humiliating exercise for many blacks, the kind of ordeal that makes them wonder aloud what year it is.
“We’ve attained whatever level society says is successful, we’re included at work, but when we need the support for our children and we can afford it, why do we get treated this way?” asked Tanisha Jackson, an African-American mother of three in a Washington suburb, who searched on and off for five years before hiring a nanny. “It’s a slap in the face.”
Numerous black parents successfully employ nannies, and many sitters say they pay no regard to race. But interviews with dozens of nannies and agencies that employ them in Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Houston turned up many nannies — often of African-American or Caribbean descent themselves — who avoid working for families of those backgrounds. Their reasons 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 result is that many black parents do not have the same child care options as their colleagues and neighbors. They must settle for illegal immigrants or non-English speakers instead of more experienced or credentialed nannies, rely on day care or scale back their professional aspirations to spend more time at home.
“Very rarely will an African-American woman work for an African-American boss,” said Pat Cascio, the owner of Morningside Nannies in Houston and the president of the International Nanny Association.
Many of the African-American nannies who make up 40 percent of her work force fear that people of their own color will be “uppity and demanding,” said Ms. Cascio, who is white. After interviews, she said, those nannies “will call us and say, ‘Why didn’t you tell me’ ” the family is black?
A lot of this, quite bluntly, comes from a slave mentality. It is easier for some blacks to serve whites than work for other blacks. Oddly, this isn't an issue in day care, where my mother wortked for 14 years.
West Indians often look down on American blacks and see them as losers. American blacks see West Indians as overtly servile to whites.
Within African Americans, it's about class.
posted by Steve @ 12:50:00 AM