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.
This is why I don't like to talk to random parents anywhere. They always want to start comparing notes. I have a 15 month old girl who is small for her age, but advance in language, social, and motor skills. I cannot tell you how many times I get asked if she was a preemie just because of the way she looks. They want to know how old she is and how long she was in the NICU…WTH?! Then they see her in action and are amazed that she is so advanced. The assumptions people make about your kid are ridiculous. As if they can't function in this society unless every child is labeled and classified on the stupid, little bell curve in their pea brains. It irks me to no end.
Hilarious, Boogie's mom as usual! Parenting skills are a dime a dozen everyone thinks they have it down to a science until something goes wrong. I think we can all just learn to keep our eyes on our own child(ren) and do the best we can and hope for the best. Love the title of this piece as well LOL!!
Gosh, what a great post. I love Bassey's realness and I look forward to more of her work. She is an amazing inspiring woman.
I hear stuff like this all the time. Like this white guys tells me he works for "Donald Trump" asks me why would I push my kid into show biz… "You know I always wondered why stage moms stress more about this than education!" and I was like "I'm not a stage mom". I wanted to be like this "I wonder why you felt the need to tell me you work for Trump in the first 2 minutes of me meeting you?" Rude…rude… rude…
Oooh, those are fighting words. I wish folks would keep comments like that to themselves.
Peace, Love and Chocolate
I get the not at all subtle questions from people trying to figure out my son's parentage. They usually ask where his blue eyes come from. When I'm really feeling bitchy I tell them my great grandfather on my mother's side.