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 SYSTEMWho 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.


This post originally appeared on Frugivore. Republished with permission. 

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  • AM

    I’m sorry say what now?! We are going to intellectualize demons in the name of?!?!? Can somebody in plain Jane English explain to me what they got from this article, because all I’m reading is BS!

    • Echi

      I thought I was the only one confused. Reads like a pseudointellectual college freshman paper – works cited and all.

    • __A

      Thank you. This article is truly disgusting. Two children are dead, and she’s making excuses for the killer.

      I’m sure something pushed Jeffrey Dahmer over the edge, but I don’t really care. And when does the news try to create a sob story for killers? Never.

      I find it laughable actually that the author is actually upset that CNN didn’t try to paint the killer as a troubled soul.

    • justanotheropinion

      Thank you. 2 children are dead – that’s the bottom line. There is nothing intellectual in that.

    • Since the readership of the site is generally Blacks in America, I’m going to respond assuming you are a non-immigrant Black immigrant.

      There’s a kind of racism that mirrors White racism in the Black American community: Black Americans tend to be xenophobic and willfully ignorant of the lived experienced of other minority groups.

      There I said it.

      Americans generally have *NO IDEA* what immigrants to this country are going through and what types of issues they’re facing, particularly on the economic front, and I’ll even say that it’s easier to be a native-born American Black person than it is to be a Dominican nanny. People are under *extreme* strain in having to leave their countries for usually economic reasons, being divorced from all familiar supports, immersed in a completely foreign language and culture, trying to maintain documented status that allows one to work (with no money for legal help) and completely crushed by economic obligations, including the possibility of supporting a family back home.

      If this woman had an underlying mental health issue before she came or experienced trauma before she did, the experience of trying to survive in America could have completely destroyed her.

      This is not about demons.

      As I get older, I find that I have way more in common with other immigrant groups of all races than I do with American Blacks: our lived experiences are being silenced and marginalized and non-White immigrants are almost perceived as subhuman.

    • Razt

      since you mentioned dominicans, here is a response from one. there’s no excuse for what this person did, if you can’t do your job then don’t do it at all. btw, here in the dominican republic we also have nannies. and its not exclusive to the super rich. i noticed americans like to hate their own culture and blame white ppl over anything AND talk for ALL the minorities in the US. don’t do that. if u are gonna talk bs about other people do it about your own ethnicity. dont use others to try and push your agenda,.

    • AM

      girl, two babies are DEAD! I don’t care about the strains and challenges she may have faced. I care about the BABIES!!!!!
      I’m an immigrant, I KNOW first hand what time it is, but that does not negate her inexcusibale actions.If this was an article solely dedicated to talking about immigrant woes/challenges/whathave you’s I’d be on board, you make very valid points. But, unfortunately it is not the time for that, as far as I’m concerned!

    • __A

      You’ve mentioned many times that you don’t really get along with African Americans. We get it, but two children are dead. If an African American had killed a black immigrant, I don’t think you’d be making excuses about how our mental health has suffered going through extreme racism and discrimination. I highly doubt you would care about the things that pushed us over the edge.

      It is actually a hatred towards white people and feeling justified by blaming colonialism, white privilege, and micro aggressions for driving this woman over the edge that make people like you and the author think it’s okay to make excuses for a child killer.

  • lol

    thank you for this article!

    my biggest question is why don’t these women look for American (maybe white?) women to look after their kids???

    • YeahRight2011

      They can’t afford to pay a provider who is a legal resident protected by labors and knows the difference between high expectation and exploitation.

    • Kam

      That’s not a job that white American women aspire too. These positions are usually full-time and often require housework. In NYC, with a surplus of immigrants needing off-the-book jobs, most positions wouldn’t pay enough to satisfy the average White American. Some college kids do work part-time, but families usually look for people who can stay long term and the college students tend to need time off for schoolwork, vacations etc.

  • Sick

    AM, what she means is “violence begets violence”. I understand where she is coming from. Perhaps when they spent time in the Dominican with her family they could have offered to bring along the nanny’s children as well. For some reason this nanny was a tortured soul and I cannot imagine they did not see any red flags, unless they were too busy to notice. The article said they spent time with her family, but did they actually get to know the nanny and the family? This is sad for both families.

    • AM

      thank you….I just saw the article as an excuse.

  • Pema

    Two innocent children were murdered. This article is sick.

    • AM


  • justanotheropinion

    I actually know the mother thru a friend. Despite your feelings regarding nannies from outside of the US, 2 children are dead thru no fault of their own. Squash this.

    • C11

      Thank you! I can’t believe anyone would blame parents who had the worst possible thing happen at the hands of someone they trusted. Sometimes people have nannies, that doesn’t make them an unloving or negligent parent. It can’t be rationalized, horrible things happen to good people ALL THE TIME. Anything other than expressions of sadness for the parents who lost two children and the nanny’s kids who are now motherless is disgusting.