Aug 19, 2007

She Tends a Child Who Looks Like Her Employer

Picking up on a theme from last week...

They say that society is now equitable and that people of color have access to everything because overt racism is dead. But we live in a nation where generations of white kids see women of color as their caretakers, their companions, and ultimately, direct reports to their parents. Perhaps the key difference from slavery is that instead of just black slaves who primarily spoke english, the caretakers come from all over the world and speak many native languages.

You'd hope that this could open the minds of the children when they grow up, or even in their increasingly diverse school environments, to be more likely to embrace the polycultural spaces of urban america, but who knows. Lessons in power seem to come very early for kids - it seems like it takes a lot of work to deprogram them from assigning roles and value to their parents. I can't imagine that it's different for their caretakers, and I doubt many parents are saying "don't think of her status as below yours."

Modern day, yuppie aristocracy. Without many of the paternalistic tendencies of past generations, where hand-in-hand with slaves/servants not having the right to self-determination or freedom, some of their "masters" felt some responsibility for their well-being, in a weird, twisted way. I don't know if that's true now - labor has become even more disposable with the willing and desperate thousands needing to take jobs that take them away from their own kids, to tend to the privileged. Inequality can be measured in the benefits "professional" white women get from using the labor of women of color to facilitate their career advancement.

Clearly it's not just women, but if there is a sisterhood argument to be made over race, it still has to overcome the formidable barrier of class.

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