I just read “Alleged nanny killing evoked mother’s greatest fear” on CNN.

Sorry, but I found it disturbing in a way that perhaps others who are reading it and commenting, have not thought about.

I would like to offer a different perspective: one from the view of the possible stresses and micro aggression of racism, sexism, and classism that non-white nannies collectively experience in the USA (and Canada), taking care of the country’s mostly white/light middle to upper-class children.

I am not implying that what she did was justified. However, the author of the CNN article doesn’t seem to understand that the types of emotional stress, pain and anger these type of “colonial style” power dynamics create. What are the consequences on the mental health of so many non-white women expected to be ignoble mammies.

And “mother’s greatest fear” is strange positioning of unnamed privilege by the author. All mothers? Or just the ones who can afford nannies? What about the flip side? The greatest fear is to be so poor that I leave my children for another country to care for other people’s children. I’d be vulnerable and subjected to exploitation ‘just to survive’. That would be one of my fears as not just a ‘mom’, but as a human being.

What would ‘life’ look like, if phenomenon such as the above article I am referring to, were analyzed through decolonial, critical race feminist, and anti-corporate capitalist framework? Well, I’ll give it a try…..

I think of the quote ‘the hate that hate produced’ (i.e. the hate of whites against black people created hate from blacks towards white USA). Well, I think about something simliar when I read the article on CNN: the ‘violence’ that violence produces.

Millions of women of the global South and parts of Asia are in violent situations in their home regions; many times, situations that have been orchestrated and/or maintained by 1st world geopolitical interests such as NAFTA and WTO (see King 2008). For example, look at the racialized-sexualized violence enacted upon indigenous female tomato harvesters so USA can have tomatoes all year round (Barndt 2002; 2008). Look at the ‘resource wars’ initiated by global Northern ‘interests’ to secure materials to be turned into commodities for hyperconsumerist USA (see: Charkiewicz). These aforementioned processes of coloniality create landscapes of violence that obviously negatively affect the livelihood of the people living there (Grosfoguel and Cervantes-Rodríguez 2002). Even long after the ‘resource war’ may have ended, these regions’ people, economies, and infrastructure, don’t simply bounce back. Many survivors must seek out ways to keep their families alive and may chose to go to the global North to accept ‘opportunities’ that have been falsely marketed to them. It is what MacLean (2004) calls the ‘feminization of survival’ in which poor women accept whatever they can, often times dangerous employment abroad to help care for their families.

So when CNN depicts the tragedy of a nanny murdering two little souls, it could be more effective if they started critiquing the [individual] violence that [structural] violence produced; offered some type of analysis around the mental and emotional pain and disharmony that these situations create for the collectivity of nannies in the USA and Canada who have come abroad, leaving their children behind.

But I guess providing such a descriptive and complex genealogy of violence doesn’t sell.

Just the racialized, classed, and gendered geo-politics of sentimentality that the CNN article unconsciously depends on.

Works Cited

Barndt, Deborah. Fruits of Injustice: Women in the Post-Nafta Food System. Canadian Woman Studies/Les Cahiers de La Femme 21/22, no. 4 (2002): 82-88.

Barndt, Deborah. Tangled Routes : Women, Work, and Globalization on the Tomato Trail. 2nd ed. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Pub., 2008.

Charkiewicz, Ewa, and Feminist Think Tank. Women, financial crisis, and care economy.

King Jr, Martin Luther. VALUES AND HABITS THAT MAINTAIN A VIOLENT SYSTEM. Who benefits from global violence and war: uncovering a destructive system (2008): 199.

MacLean, Sandra J. Globalization and the New Inequalities: Threats and Prospects for Human Security. Center for Global Political Economy Working Paper (2004): 04-02.

around the web

20 Comments

  1. “decolonial, critical race feminist”

    WOW!! I haven’t read those words in such a long time. There is certainly a post-coloniality associated with an intersectional understanding of what is going on. Economic/racial/gendered nationalism are all factors. And of course, sacred privilege.

  2. At the moment I saw the original story my position and understanding coincided with your POV. Great piece. I hope it attracts many readers.

  3. This is an awesome piece.

  4. This is another awesome article! Frugivore please keep content like this coming and stay away from the fluff. If you build it it they will come and come back for more.

    The global North will never undertand the plight of the South. You can’t see your wrongs if you don’t think you’re wrong. It’s sad cycle of violence that is celebrated on election days, which is why this article is so timely. Frugivore you have fan and A. Breeze Harper keep up the fight

  5. Thanks for expressing this nuanced view of a sensationalized story. If we weren’t all dumbed-down by the institutions of education and media it would be more obvious that there are layers of understanding. the world is not really black and white, however hard the ruling class wants it to appear that way.

  6. Great article! An expansion on this informed perspective could lead to an entire book or a PhD thesis.

  7. Are you suggesting that we should excuses bestial behavior from illegal nannies? I’m very concerned that liberal critiques of this so called American empire are treading on treasonous waters. When did America invade The Dominican Republic. The last time I checked we helped Haiti reestablish a government that was finally in the modern world. Violence is natural but it seems like we are excusing what this nanny did. In a fit of frustration and rage, she killed two toddlers. Are we going to say in court that this lady was thinking about the imperialist destruction of her hometown by the IMF and WTO. Certainly not. I expect better than an attempt to place the blame on Americans and trivialize the fear many good upstanding citizens have for nannies who are probably here illegally without proper vetting.

    • @Adam: My dear propagandized American (my roots go back to and before the Revolution, so be careful.) Breeze is merely offering another perspective and insight into a situation that the educational and social systems of the US have mis/poorly-informedmany (most) of its youth. This is the reason one political party is replaying the pre Civil War story of states’ rights and nullification today. If you understood the term “colonial” you could that that the entire southern hemisphere, like all the non-Europeanized world has been robbed of its resources in more ways that military conquest. It isn’t too late. You could learn full and accurate history, if you were willing. And if it would do any good.

      • I was brought in the Caribbean and am currently an activist in the US. Latin America is hardly a racial paradise and it has its own long, self-established and perpetuated race system (s), independent of US relations with these countries. It drives me crazy when leftists activists in the US default into their own counter point/narrative of the “noble savage” and think of the rest of the world and its leadership as the despoiled, indigenous universe. Reality is shocking different.

        Readers in the US should look into Junot Diaz. He writes about this stuff. And let me reiterate, because I’ve been attacked and “accused” of being a white woman by other online responders in other forums. I am a Caribbean-born and raised, dark woman activist in the US.

      • @Gwendoline Y. Fortune: I love it when condescending people don’t proofread their comments. UR SO SMART.

  8. What an insightful article!
    It only proves the importance of situating things in their political and historical context.
    THANK YOU.

  9. Breeze Harper is attempting to educate me and perhaps you, to discern and dismantle a larger scenario –

    Predatory political economies that are intentionally and cynically structured by a few winner-take-all (the 1%) to create losers and more losers (the 99%), make victims of us ALL–
    the 2 little dead children who should be alive and playing in central Park;
    the mother who hurried home from the swimming pool, with her youngest child to find her babies knifed to death in the bathtub;
    this same anguished mother who called 911 and her husband but also helped bandage the murderous nanny’s gushing throat.

    Hopes have gone tragically awry for everyone, including we. the consumers of the bloody event and its aftermath.

    What can We the People do?

    There is work to be done to undo the harm caused *to* each one of the actors in this tragedy.

    As a consuming audience, the time is long overdue for us to act collectively for a Greater Common Good, that emphasizes Fairness; that does not target victims so that they in turn target other victims in this no win-game.

    The Upper West Side, where I have lived for decades is a distinct global circuit where lives intersect, generally in less bloody, nevertheless wounding ways.

    Women of color like me are routinely and innocently asked by white skin privileged kindergarteners “Are you his mom or his baby sitter?’

    The trafficking of female bodies of color to the core from the periphery continues unabated, with less and less social fabric to wrap oneself in.
    Ms. Ortega grabbed frenziedly at the ripped shreds of that fabric and became what she certainly never hoped to become — a killer of children she loved.

  10. Although the US destroys and purposely disenfranchises smaller, resource rich countries ability to chart their own destinies, I don’t wholeheartedly agree with this argument. This is more of an isolated event.

  11. what a powerful analysis/commentary, breeze…you have definitely captured in such a small space, the nuances of this issue…i truly am more informed than before when this first came to light! it is intelligent and thought-provoking and the kind of critique/analysis that i’d prefer from our mainstream media. however, it is not the kind of thing they feel they should give their viewers…dumbing down these stories only make criticisms like ron and adam so ill-informed and keeps them in a state of denial.
    bravo, breeze, and big ups to frugivore for publishing such a great think piece!

  12. Thank you so much for writing this. You articulated what I could not about what makes my stomach hurt when I see stories like this. It’s a tragic story, and I feel sad for the children, but there are such important issues going on that are ignored because of the immediate tragedy that the other, ongoing and systemic, tragedies are overlooked.

  13. These are important issues. I agree that the story is sensationalized and that the “nannies” in this country are the othered “dark woman” both suspect and “mammy.”

    But I simply cannot accept your apologetics for what happened. I just can’t. It’s just the classic “default” response that, I frankly, as a woman of color and activist, find inaccurate and simplistic.

  14. Great article, but I just wanted to comment that the “alleged nanny killing evoked mother’s greatest fear,” is about the Yoselyn Ortega/Krim family case, which is a blatant propaganda lie and cover up meant to push all blame on the “ethnic nanny.” The nanny didn’t even kill the children- it’s all over alternative news. Krim, was the head of MSNBC digital, who apparently revealed a $43 million dollar trillion dollar laundering scheme, involving officials located in the “highest govt and financial offices.” Within hours of posting the story on the scheme, he was notified that his children were killed and after the children were murdered the story was deleted from MSNBC. I just thought you’d like to know the truth, which makes this story all the more darker and perverse while validating your article that blame is placed on disenfranchised ethnic women- in this case, the nanny, was a scapegoat for the money-hungry and patriarchal bankers.

    • @anon: I am really trying to figure out a way to “Like” this comment right now…………. *LIKE* I surely did not know the other part to this story and it definitely makes the entire situation a little more frightening.

  15. Sorry, but she had no right to kill those kids. I don’t care what had is going on in your life. You don’t kill the children. Kill yourself if you must, but not innocent kids!

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