Editor's Note: I dug deep into the MyBrownBaby Crates for this piece, which I gathered together one Sunday afternoon while I was fussing around on Twitter and came across poet and writer Bassey Ikpi's tweets from the frontlines er, playground. What started out as a lazy, playful afternoon for the Baltimore-based mom and her deliciously cute son, Elaiwe, quickly turned into a get it straight verbal smackdown when another mom questioned whether her son was slow. Right. In one almost hour-long twitter stream, Bassey expressed the fears, frustration, and anger black parents face when others make foul, wrong-headed assumptions about our brown babies. Here, the blow-by-blow of Bassey brilliantly breaking down why it's just never a good idea to innocently verbalize said assumptions about black children to their moms, as told through Bassey's tweets.
By BASSEY IKPI
¢ At the park with Boogs. Poor thing needs some friends. He’s trying to convince some big kids to let him play soccer. 1:29 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ This kid isn’t afraid of anything! Where did he get that from? I long to be that free and unafraid. 1:31 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Ugh! This is why I hate hanging out with parents I don’t know. Just because our kids are playing together don’t mean you and I should talk. 1:39 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ E is clearly smaller than your kid. Why would you ask me if he’s delayed? Do people do that? Am I wrong? 1:40 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ I was like what? He’s 2 and a half. She goes, what?? Then she wants to compare notes. He started walking when?? He says what??? 1:42 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Bitch, you started it! I wasn’t trying to tell you he was a genius. I was letting him play with your barely talking yet 5 year old. 1:43 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ White people blow me with that! He can’t be gifted? He has to be tiny and slow?? 1:44 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ My 2 year old is convincing your 4 year old not to be scared of the slide and you trying to say what to me? Ridiculous. 1:46 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ And yes I am tweeting in her face. 1:46 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Boogie is having fun but if this chick doesn’t stop with the questions. Like I’m going to say well when his home planet was destroyed… 1:50 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ “Oh his father must be thrilled.” Someone is about to be arrested. 1:52 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ I’m taking my cues from Michael. I’m a lover not a fighter. I just explained to her that her questions come off both rude and racist. 1:56 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ She apologized and said that she saw how he was behaving and assumed he was older but because he is small she thought he was autistic… 2:01 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ I’m not sure how that’s better… but I asked her why she wouldn’t assume that he was advanced for his age rather than slow for his size. 2:02 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Hell why not just ask me how old he is? She said she was just stunned bcuz her 4 yo 2:03 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Doesn’t speak as clearly and isn’t as self possessed as E is. I said that has nothing to do with me and my kid. 2:04 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Was that rude? I’m not trying to be rude but Boogie is just Boogie. I don’t compare him to other kids. 2:04 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ She shouldn’t compare little Dakota or Simon or whatever. No wonder he’s so scared of slides. Let the boy live. 2:05 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Crap. Stupid bleeding heart. Now I feel bad.
2:06 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Boogie: What happened, mama? Me: That lady is stressing me out. B: Me too! Can I have ice cream? (Love this kid) 2:13 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ E is fine for his age. He’s smart but he’s not Doogie. So to think he’s a tiny 5 year old that’s slow? What time is your plane to conclusions? 2:14 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ It was more how she asked. He started walking early. He started talking early. Yes he eats fast food. Yes he watches TV 2:17 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ These are just facts. I’m not all hmph.. give your kid a happy meal. That’s what works for ME! (Kinda) 2:18 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ I get nervous about my parenting but I know I’m doing the absolute best I can. That’s it. Leave me alone random white woman! 2:19 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Oh I don’t feel bad. I know Boogie is awesome. I just was annoyed by the whole conversation. I don’t like talking kids with parents.¢ So if I’m saying yes he knows a lot of words. Yes he’s pretty fearless. Yes he’s very confident. LEAVE ME ALONE. 2:23 PM Aug 30th from twidroid¢ Ok. I’m done talking about this. You can’t be mad and eat ice cream. It’s like illegal in 4 countries. Thanks for listening to me! 2:24 PM Aug 30th from twidroid
About our MBB Contributor:Bassey Ikpi is a Nigeria-born, Oklahoma-bred, PG County-fed, Brooklyn-led writer/poet/neurotic. She's half awesome, a quarter crazy and 1/3rd genius… the left over bit is a caramel creme center. She's also the single mother of an amazing man-child, Elaiwe Ikpi, who, as you can see in the picture above, be flyer than most, even on a sick day. Get more Bassey at basseyworld.com
If you would like to be a featured contributor on MyBrownBaby, email your essays/ideas/blog posts/rants/musings to Denene at denenemillner at gmail dot com.