But By the Content of Their Character or Nanny Blog Offends Again

Forty five years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.   Tonight in Denver, the first step to a post-racial America will be made when Sen. Barack Obama accepts the Democratic Party’s nomination as its candidate for President of the United States of America.

Tonight’s event at Mile High Stadium is the embodiment of  Dr. King’s declaration:  “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

To me and others who grew up in the late 60s and 70s, that sentence rang in our ears every time the the cauldron of racial tension began to boil.  Whether it was the controversies surrounding Judge Bruce Wright‘s judicial policy, the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum, the blatant racial and media manipulation in the Tawana Brawley circus or the issues raised in any Spike Lee movie, Dr. King’s words were always the best advice.

…But by the content of their character.

So, on one of the most hopeful and historic days of our lifetime,  I stumbled upon another inflammatory post – claiming to be from Brooklyn Heights – on the vigilante blog I Saw Your Nanny:

ISYN: I saw an African American nanny in Brooklyn Heights in the Pierrepont Park off the promenade with chunky red stoned jewelery and chunky red earrings and a red belt, with a long black ponytail wig, on the heavier side, with a blonde boy around 2, could be older or younger.

The boy was buckled into a stroller and while she was chatting with friends the boy repeatedly tried wrestling out of the straps over an hour period while the nanny completely ignored the child. There were 3 other African American nannies in the park who were ignoring their crying kids in the stroller while chatting to their friends, don’t have descriptions. All i could say is that i was horrified and heartbroken for those kids and if i had to leave my children home to go to work i would:
1)buy a nanny cam and starve for a week if i had to
2)come home from work early and spot check on them in the park
3)send friends to spot check on them
4)maybe not hire heavy nannies who don’t want to move their bodies
4)hire someone to follow them around for one day and would find out lots

Yes America still has a long way to go when it comes to everyone just getting along.

In 2004, Sen. Obama gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention.  I never understood how people felt when they heard Dr. King or Bobby Kennedy speak in “real time”, to experience history as it happened and as it was relevant.  After Obama spoke, I had an idea.  It’s a shame that a site like ISYN is embracing the social mores of America’s past then to seize the opportunity to enjoy the vast potential of its future:

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  • AEB

    Undoubtedly, SOME nanny’s don’t don’t their job.

    The terrible error here involves identifying that neglect with race.

    A “post-racial” America can’t come soon enough. I hope I live to see and experience it.

  • Jazz

    AEB – well said.

  • nabeguy

    Definitely a very snarky site, racism aside. I’ve only read a smattering of the posts on it, but it never ceases to amaze me that, despite their outrage, none of the posters actually do anything to confront the nannys on their behaviour, choosing instead to high tail it back to their keyboards to describe everything they witness in detail (right down to the “chunky earrings”). If these parents are so paranoid about leaving their children with nannies, maybe they should stick the little ones in a bubble…perhaps the ones inside their own heads might suffice.

  • steve

    Mrs Fink:

    “I work my ass off and if i see something bad going on if front of my eyes, i say something to the ACTUAL PEOPLE involved, not to a cyber-crowd of stay-at-home voyeurs.”

    Don’t you usually blog about it first?

  • ABC

    why do you keep looking at this site Finks? I’m a stay-at-home voyeur and have only seen this site twice — here both times.

    Meanwhile, I think race can be an identifying trait. Ditto sex. And it isn’t necessarily racism/sexism. I mean, trying to ID someone by their earrings seems hard.

  • Jazz

    ABC I think Homer’s point is (while he doesn’t say it) that describing a person’s race on a site like that is irrelevant and the only reason you would is to make a *wink wink* point. Hence the content of their character remark.

    It’s not like they’re filing a police report on the crappy site, so detailed description of person (black, white, fat, skinny) is unnecessary.

  • HDEB

    The point of the I saw your nanny site is to provide a forum where parents with children who are cared for by a nanny can check it to see if their nanny was spotted doing something the parent may not approve of. To achieve this goal it is necessary to physically describe the nanny and child. IMHO any and all physical characteristics are fair game and relevant.
    How would you describe to friend “A” friend “B” if they were picking up friend “B” at the airport and they had never met them? Assume you do not know what friend “B” will be wearing and that it is impossible to show friend “A” a photograph.
    I would include race, height and body type in this description in addition to other characteristics.
    IMHO I believe that a truly non-discriminatory person has no qualms about using race, size or any other concrete physical traits to describe someone.

  • Jazz

    HDEB – If I saw YOUR nanny, I’d call you, not blog about it. If I saw a nanny doing something ILLEGAL I’d call the police. The new breed of parents are insufferable, wrongheaded and spoiled.

    And not for nothin’ but – how many of these nannies are being paid “on the books?” How many of these nannies have health care provided by their employers?

  • steve

    But then you’d blog about it….

  • No One Of Consequence

    I agree with you HDEB.
    Call a spade a spade.

  • vspingola

    Mr. Fink… do you have small children? Do you spend a great deal of time at the playground? If you did you would know that there is a problem with childcare in this city and country. Of course there are good nannies but from what I have personally seen at Pierrepont, a good majority are bad. And a good majority are black. Some of these women are mean and can get violent. Its not so easy to confront someone neglecting a child, especially when they know very well what they are doing.
    So until you sit at Pierrepont playground for one week straight, be quiet about nanny postings.

  • homer fink

    v- sorry you’ve missed the point of “by the content of their character”.

  • steve

    No Homer… I think you have.

  • stan

    wait.. you have seen someone being violent with a child and chose not to call the cops? that’s just horrible shame on you

  • AEB

    If the role of the site is two alert parents (at what seems like a potentially dangerous remove) that their nannies aren’t performing as promised, then PERHAPS a descriptive that would include race identification is relevant.

    One thing to research would be whether white nannies are OD’d by their race. If not, well then racism is alive and well at “I Saw Your Nanny.”

    In any case, the whole thing has a most distasteful flavor of spying. Were I a parent, I would make dead certain that whomever I hired to take care of my child was absolutely trustworthy.

    Judging character is hardly, as they say, rocket science.

  • No One Of Consequence

    But you’re not a parent, so you really don’t know what you’re talking about, do you?

  • HDEB

    If you saw my nanny treating my son in a questionable way you wouldn’t call me or tell me about it personally because you have no idea who I am.
    As I parent I think the I saw your nanny site (I.S.Y.N.) serves a purpose. As much as I trust our nanny it is slightly comforting to know if someone saw her doing something questionable that they could post it on I.S.Y.N. and I might find out about something I wouldn’t find out about otherwise.
    I don’t think there is anything wrong with “spying” on your nanny though I see it as unplanned supervision. Very few other jobs are typically done with such little oversight from employers. Both my wife and I do make surprise visits during the day. We are very happy with our nanny and glad she is part of our family and I see the value of I.S.Y.N.

    Are the opinions on this thread those of parents with young children who employ nannies-vs-people who don’t have young children in the care of nannies who are focusing on the perceived negatives of a website that has value to others?

  • vspingola

    If you pay attention to that website, white nannies are ID’d by their appearance as well.

  • AEB

    Ah, No One, the old you-have-to-be-it-to-know-it fallacy.

    You’re unfortunate call-a-spade-a-spade comment salutes bigotry.

    Or was the choice of that locution “innocent”?

    Hard to imagine.

  • nabeguy

    Instead of listening to the subjective opinions of the ISYN posters, perhaps it would be best if parents start tuning into their kids a bit more and get their feedback. I’ve used various nannies throughout the years and, while fortunate that most were good, I knew from the way my daughter behaved at the end of the day which ones were not. Even a non-speaking infant will throw out a negative vibe if they’re unhappy with the way they’re being taken care of by someone. Listen to your kids, folks, not some busy-body person with a questionable agenda. BTW Homer, as deplorable as I find this site, I agree with ABC that advertizing here is not necessarily a good thing.

  • lifer

    If people are paying so much attention to what the nannies are doing to these kids, they must hear what they are calling the child, how about describing the child, what they call him/her, what they’re wearing, and what their stroller looks like?, that might be easier to identify, since its obvious on the site most nannies seem to be of color.
    I have read through the site many times,
    As I looked through the site, I also found its also a sounding board for nannies themselves, they talk about how lazy, selfish, uneducated and uninterested some parents can be about raising their own children, and also how crappily kids can be conditioned to treat their carertaker (maybe by example, seeing how they are treated by the kids parents) so I guess the ranting goes both ways (there’s one nanny posting apparently at the families home while the child is napping, using your own bosses computer to narc on them- Ouch!)
    I dont think the site is race driven, but there are certainly some tinges of racism by some of the posters. Sometimes it seems like the point of view is a mom who is pissed she has to watch her kids all day, while the other moms are working, or shopping, or hanging out at home, so she sits sits in the park alone while nannies hang out together, maybe a little jealous of the community they share.
    I for one agree, if I see a child being mishandled, I would say something, embarassment goes a long way in showing someone they are acting wrong.
    All in all, I think the site is relatively of value (and as a voyeur, myself find it interesting to read), but like any blog, its gonna have some vitriol attached since its annonymous and people on both sides can vent…… like here!

  • No One Of Consequence

    I think every parent on here would agree that until you have your own kids, it’s impossible to truly know what parenting, and the difficult decision making process that accompanies choosing a caregiver, is like.
    Sure, everybody wants Uber-Nanny, but what if you can’t find her? Can’t afford her? And consider the negative impacts to your child of getting a new caregiver every other week because the last one committed some trifling offense that is likely more a by-product of personality differences or poorly communicated expectations.

    On judging character, consider how many fell for old DK’s ruse.

    Bigotry, schmigotry. The spade-a-spade phrase does not have racist roots. Describe an obese person as fat. The guy with the receding hairline is bald(-ing). It’s ok.

    It would be racist/bigoted to say “don’t trust that guy because he has long hair”,”hire a Mexican to do that job,” or “I’ve had bad experiences with African-American nannies.” (note: while the PC term is African-American, most of these nannies hail from the Caribbean.)

  • ABC

    just because someone posts a bad nanny here or on a local listserv, doesn’t mean they didn’t confront the nanny in the moment. I’ve done that plenty and heard, “mind your own business” or “f— off” or similar each time.

    also, the idea that people should just contact the parents is absurd. who knows who the parent is?

    what SHOULD a person do if they see a really terrible nanny at a playground? If it was your kid with your employee, wouldn’t you want to know?