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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