It’s pretty safe to say that aside from aerial terrorism, a screaming baby is every flier’s worst nightmare. But while most of us wold eye roll, grin and bear it if faced with that situation, Nyfesha Miller took matters into her own hands, literally.
According to the story, which has now gone viral along with this image, Miller not only held the baby who couldn’t be soothed by new mother Rebekka Garvison, she let the baby sleep in her lap throughout the entire flight and “even carried her off the plane and held her” so Garvison could get the stroller and carseat together “so I wasn’t struggling to try and do it all alone,” she told CBS. It’s a touching story of a woman with a heart much bigger than most of us, but the imagery is one many African-American observers can’t get past.
When I saw this picture and read the story, my mind immediately went from questioning why any mother would trust a complete stranger to hold her baby to recalling how at one point in time (not all that long ago) it was many black women’s job to nurse, nurture and essentially raise the children of white women who struggled to adjust to motherhood or who couldn’t bother to try. Even though there’s no longer a country-wide mandate requiring such “acts of service” from black women, this dynamic still lives on in the present mother-nanny relationship often characterized by a white mother employing a nanny of color to tend to her child’s every need. And I can’t help but think it’s that knowledge that padded Garvison’s comfortability with leaving her infant in a stranger’s hands.
But is it fair to let that dark past overshadow this touching moment? No one forced Miller, a mother of three herself, to help out what I’m sure she saw was nothing more than a fellow mom in need, and no one with good sense would argue that taking a newborn baby on a flight is an easy feat. Perhaps this is one of those situations where onlookers need to let their deep-rooted hurt go and see the beauty in someone stepping outside of themselves to do some good. Or is this a case where the situation isn’t about race — but really kinda is?
Did you feel some type of way when you saw this picture?