This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life

April 21, 2009

My People and Other People’s Children

Filed under: Photography and Photo Essays — Tags: , , , — pprscribe @ 10:24 am

I have always been fascinated by images such as these of Black and other people of color with White children. For a time I worked as an in-home child care provider. It was a strange position in which to find myself and I felt that I had come full circle. And not in a good way. My grandmother and several of her female relatives did work in White people’s homes. So that their descendants would not have to. Even as they were part of the “Black middle class” and had their family accomplishments printed in the local Black newspaper, they did laundry and cleaned silverware and changed diapers on the other side of town. I wish I could somehow make the Black people in these images speak to me, so that I might know what they were thinking. I wonder if these adults had children of their own, and if the Black boy in the one photograph lived with his parents. I don’t know “whose people” these people are. But just in case they have none (or none that they know about or who know about them) I will claim them as my own ancestors.

"White-capped nurse holding infant." http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/3248110220/

"White-capped nurse holding infant." http://www.flickr.com/photos/floridamemory/3248110220/

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"Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939." http://www.flickr.com/photos/nypl/3110575890/

"Negro domestic servant, Atlanta, GA, May 1939." http://www.flickr.com/photos/nypl/3110575890/

**More images taken from Flickr’s “The Commons” project that highlights “hidden treasures in the world’s public photography archives.”

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4 Comments »

  1. Boy, these photos really force you to pause and think. It’s fascinating and sad how these domestics, servants, nurses, etc were so integral to white lives, but never fully a part. And that one with the young black boy looking over the side…

    I’ve seen the one with the white child in highchair before, I think – it reminds me of that scene from Morrison’s The Bluest Eye where Pecola watches her mother take care of another woman’s daughter better than she does her own.

    Comment by Claudia — April 22, 2009 @ 2:06 pm

  2. [...] My People and Other People’s Children from This So Called Post Post Racial Life I have always been fascinated by images such as these of Black and other people of color with White children. For a time I worked as an in-home child care provider. It was a strange position in which to find myself and I felt that I had come full circle. And not in a good way. My grandmother and several of her female relatives did work in White people’s homes. So that their descendants would not have to. [...]

    Pingback by some links « Raven’s Eye — April 22, 2009 @ 4:57 pm

  3. The women in the photo “domestic servant from atlanta” looks tired. I can only imagine the things that she has seen…

    Comment by citizen ojo — April 22, 2009 @ 10:21 pm

  4. [...] My People and Other People’s Children April 2009 3 comments 5 [...]

    Pingback by My Blogging 2010 in review « This So-Called Post-Post-Racial Life — January 7, 2011 @ 9:54 am


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