Falmouth’s Black babysitter

A white family of four became really good friends with me while I was working at a Starbucks coffee shop a few summers ago. I was a workaholic, making people their lattes by day and being a full-time healthcare provider by night; showing up at the coffee shop in that dope green apron and leaving in sky-blue scrubs. At the end of the day, I’m all about serving the people in the way that Christ came to serve, full of grace and truth.

The parents of a five-year-old little girl and a two-year-old little boy decided to ask me to be their “nanny” after realizing how awesome I was—I suppose. I thought this offer was too good to be true. I’m a young Black man who had dreadlocks, who had been invited to Falmouth, Maine, to babysit two white children in a white space. Black men don’t just get opportunities like this so you know I was hyped to have such a privileged job offer lined up. I accepted the offer and would soon enough be taking the bus over to Falmouth every Friday morning to babysit.

I was super excited to start. The family lived in a nice home on the ocean in a town that, to me, felt like paradise. I enjoyed the luxury of being invited into their home to nanny for their beautiful, joy-filling children. I enjoyed taking care of them, playing guitar for them, singing them to sleep, reading to them, building forts and homemade cardboard houses with them. I learned a lot from those kids and their family but I was still very uncomfortable.

As I stepped off the bus every Friday morning to start my day with my two “pop-rocks,” I would notice the stares presented to me from the white teenagers passing by to get on their school buses.  You know how that works; they give you the perky lips with the downward head-nod, you try to figure out whether to show some love or to just keep it moving, later realizing that white folks are miss out on some of the best friendships that exist, due to lies fed to them through the media and through what they’re taught in their homes. ​​

I was later told by the mom of these white children, “I want them to see you. I want them to see that I have a Black male nanny.” She had been referring to white people or “wypipo.” She wanted white people to see a Black man in a white neighborhood, coming to take care of her adorable children; I was speechless in the most awkward way. I loved taking care of those two kids. I had been caring for those kids simply out of the kindness of my heart, as a nursing student and as a follower of Jesus Christ. I would do the same for any child, adult or elderly person in need of my healing hands and exceptional care.

The mom also informed me that she wanted her children to have a better Black social experience when in public; this was after her little boy received an injection by a Black pediatrician, causing him to cry like most two-year-old kids would do. The pain from the needle associated with the face of a Black man had perhaps become problematic for this small child. Her privilege reminded her that she needed to somehow fix this issue. Now I was starting to feel like a prop of some sort, handy for the show that was happening every Friday morning in Falmouth.

Was I there because of my resumé? I did not feel like I was there because of my experience as a nursing assistant and as a nursing student but more as The Help. While I helped fulfill the mother’s desire for a Black man to be seen by her white neighbors (mostly family members), providing the gift of Black magic to her children, my mental health started to be impacted more; specifically with my anxiety and depression.

Did these white parents have good intentions? Of course they did. I loved their family and appreciated all the help they offered me. Too often, white people are naive to the damage they lavish upon Black people; they make “black jokes” hoping to connect while instead, halting the healing process of the wounds already present. White folks offer help to Black folks in ways that are not required; they mean no harm while ceasing from pulling us out of the fires they created. They even yell, “I hired a Black male nanny” hoping to rescue themselves from the system they benefit from and further strengthen. Why remind a Black man that he was hired by another “white savior?” Black people already know we can’t do much without our white allies but for Heaven’s sake, do not rub it in.

I felt like I was being watched by every white person nearby. I would take the kids outside to run around and play like little kids enjoy doing. I quickly found myself worried about what the white neighbors would think of a Black man, outside playing with white kids in their ‘hood. Sure, I enjoyed the job but I did not enjoy the show I was expected to put on for these white folks. In October 2018, Corey Lewis, a black child-care entrepreneur, had the cops called on him for babysitting two white children down in Marietta, Georgia. A white woman followed him and the children to Corey’s mom’s house and waited down the street for the cops to arrive. The cops decided to do a wellness check on the children by questioning them. A white woman didn’t call the cops on a man due to her concerns for the safety of two little children. No—a white woman called the cops because she saw a Black man with two little white children.

If one of my “pop-rocks” were doing something unsafe, I wanted to know that I could use a stern tone in telling them “no” while not being perceived as an “angry Black man.” I wanted to know that I could do my job my way, as long as it didn’t violate any policies or rules. I want to know that I’m showing up to a job because I’m worth it, because I come to slay and not because of the way I look. I want to know that my social experience is also considered when white folks use Black folks as gain for their own agenda; to make their lives more convenient and “not racist.” What if someone had called the cops on me for being with these two little white kids?

I recall taking the kids to a local Starbucks one afternoon. As we would sit out in the warm sun enjoying our beverages, a few white folks walked by, giving us the side-eye. Two white women “checked in” by initiating a conversation about the two white kids in my presence. You know? The usual small-talk about how cute one’s kids are? Or asking them their names? Yeah—that kind of intrusive prying. Were these two white women skeptical of me being with these two kids like the white woman was with Corey? I can never truly be sure, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wonder about their approach. Perhaps they were being friendly or maybe they were analyzing an uncommon scene. After all, what is a Black man with locs doing at a white neighborhood Starbucks with two little white kids?

I, Falmouth’s Black babysitter, concluded that I loved the babysitting job, appreciated the wonderful opportunity, but that I would no longer be a white family’s prop, embellishment, “Black friend,” social experiment, political statement or their HELP. As a Black male aiming to accomplish great things in my country, I suggest that white people allow space for Black excellence to play its course. Too often, Black people aren’t able to exercise their full existence, perhaps due to anxiety that stems from being highly concerned about how we’ll be perceived by our white peers in society and in professional settings. Let us live and let us be.


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Little Black girl: A Halloween costume and a white woman’s threat

Today’s post is a first for the blog written by guest writer Dontavis Hines, and you can read about him in his own words:
My name is Dontavis Hines. I typically go by “Dante” and recently started using the name, “Dante Speaks” to raise the volume of my voice surrounding racial issues I face as a black man in Maine. I’m a man of many talents including dancing, singing, story-telling and nurturing others; you can always ask more about my personal life.
I moved to Maine in 2011 to be a missionary in the campus ministry, associated with my church. Although I had only planned on staying in Maine for one year, God has his ways of twisting up one’s journey here on earth. I’m still here in one of the whitest states, seven years later. During my time here thus far, I realized that I was different and that I needed to start talking about those disparities more. I currently am aiming to become a Nurse Practitioner of Psychiatry and one day hope to reach out to many who suffer (some unknowingly) from mental disorders. I’m a nursing student by day and night and an activist whenever the opportunity presents itself.


​I’m going to keep this real simple and discrete. Over the past few years of living in Maine, I’ve had to deal with a lot of white people’s ignorance. In this particular case, a white woman decided that she was going to casually joke about little Black girls and how her white mother perceived our beautiful princesses.

I believe God put me in the right place at the right time. Why else was I there to witness such racist remark? As I stood near this white woman, she proceeded to make her “joke” about how her mother would threaten to dress her up as a little black girl for Halloween. For some reason, she decided to tell this story of hers, in my presence. I’m a Black man with a little Black sister and little Black girl cousins. It was almost as if she was trying to provoke me in which she succeeded at to some degree. Did she really think I wasn’t going to say anything and just let her be a “Passive Patty?” You know? White women who attempt to be slick at the mouth with racial microaggressions and think that a Black person like me is just going to be accepting of it? Yeah, I don’t tolerate those kind of white women.

As she continued telling her little “joke”, she went on about her mother’s threat. “My mom used to threaten to dress me up as a little black girl, to paint my face black and to put brillo-pads in my hair if I didn’t behave,” she announced as everyone else around us laughed out loud. I immediately thought to myself, Is she really doing this right now? Is she trying to get my attention?

I knew I couldn’t say what I wanted to say. I didn’t want to be deemed the “angry Black man” so I turned around calmly and said, “You cannot dress up as a Black person for Halloween.” Her and her other white peers, and one other brown lady, ceased at laughing and went back to minding their business. I was so annoyed, upset and hurt all at once.

I later made a complaint about her racial remarks and of course, we all know how that turned out. Nothing happened other than an apology; this was not how I hoped for the situation to turn out but when you’re a Black man in America, trying to stand up to a white person, we typically don’t stand a chance. I honestly didn’t even know what brillo-pads were until I googled them. I was humiliated. I couldn’t believe that she grew up in a home where her mother taught her to compare Black hair to brillo pads; a scrubbing tool used for washing dirty dishes. Who knows what else she was taught by her white parents?

Racism is often taught to white children in their homes, even when it’s subtle or seemingly innocent. As usual, white folks “mean no harm” but they never fail at causing it nonetheless.

Dear white people: As we approach Halloween, please don’t attempt to dress up as Black person. Please don’t paint your face black to try to be any Black person. Please don’t threaten to dress your white children up as Black people, as if we’re some scary costume or a sort of punishment.


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If you see libraries as the enemy, then you’ve needed more libraries in your life

There are some things you just shouldn’t do because it’s just mean, or maybe stupid, or possibly something that would bring a smile to Dick Cheney’s or Sean Hannity’s face—which is only a short step from giving Satan a sensual foot rub. Basically, things YOU JUST DON’T DO. These include:

  • Going alone and unarmed into the scary basement of a freaky house (or, for that matter, your own basement or backyard at night when there is a suspicious or frightening sound emanating from it)
  • Punching babies in the face
  • Bringing any dish to the cookout that’s been updated with new and surprising ingredients by a newspaper or magazine recipe section
  • Pulling on Superman’s cape, spitting into the wind or pulling that mask off the ole Lone Ranger…or messing with Jim
  • Saying anything bad about Beyoncé on social media
  • Calling for the removal of public libraries from society

Well, maybe that last one got an exemption of some sort recently from the Oval Office. Oh, who am I kidding? Even before the current administration, I’ve seen people trying to destroy the whole concept and institution of public libraries for at least a decade. No doubt they are the people who also think teachers should pay for all the classroom supplies out of pocket and that poor people just need to yank harder on those bootstraps while working 20-hour days at three minimum-wage jobs to end up as famous business-people who can one day be elected to destroy civilization as we know it.

To be perfectly honest, I spent a whole lot of years (and still have partial ownership of a house) in a town where one of the most cherished annual activities of the city council was to cut the public library’s budget just a little bit (or a lot) more because apparently inflation doesn’t exist, and no one should have ready access to knowledge, entertainment and a safe public gathering space.

Yes, I lived somewhere where people were convinced that the only thing standing between them and a cushy retirement in the Cayman Islands was a librarian’s salary. I mean, that library is truly staffed by superheroes because they keep things going despite having a constant fiscal gun to their literary heads—but they shouldn’t have to be superheroes to keep the library open. No library should have to go through that, though many do.

I’m saying all this largely because of the story that was published recently by Forbes online titled “Amazon Should Replace Local Libraries to Save Taxpayers Money,” written by Panos Mourdoukoutas (the story has since been deleted; get the story about that here).

Naturally Forbes will publish some other gems along the lines of “Corporations should take over police functions” (Robocop) or “We should make intelligence and science things to be ridiculed to improve society” (Idiocracy…or the actions of almost every Republican politician and pundit for the past 20 years). Right? Right!? C’mon Forbes, you might let the librarians down but surely you don’t want to let the extreme libertarians down, do you?

Now, the article I linked to above breaks a lot of this down, already, and literate non-Trumpite denizens of social media’s saner neighborhoods had a field day dragging the author and Forbes on Twitter (here, and here…also here…and hey, here too..oh also this and that one…just to share a few), but here’s my own bullet list to consider for those who have a brain and don’t hate libraries because gun-loving anti-healthcare blue-eyed white Jesus told them so:

  • Not everybody has access to tablet readers or other mobile devices
  • Not everyone has easy access (or even access at all) to the Internet (so having those devices means nothing and besides, plenty of people rely on libraries to access the Internet…including to look for jobs even though some of y’all think they’re all just lazy porn surfers)
  • Amazon and other businesses don’t do wide-scale social charity like that. Privatization doesn’t mean better access; it means controlled access
  • Physical books can go places it isn’t wise to bring electronic devices, and physical books don’t need power
  • Many libraries now serve the function with movies that rental places (which no longer exist much) used to, and many people still want to watch movies on something other than Hulu or Netflix
  • Libraries provide meeting spaces and the ability to publicly gather
  • Many libraries provide spaces for free meals to kids and teens who otherwise don’t have access to three squares a day
  • Libraries provide ways for families of very small children to interact and to grow those little minds and develop their social skills
  • And a thousand other things I can’t think of right now (a few of which are mentioned in some of those tweets I linked to above)

Basically, libraries are spectacular. Stevie Wonder “Songs in the Key of Life” wonderful. Getting a fat refund from the IRS at tax-filing time kind of goodness.

If you don’t want part of your tax money going to fund public libraries, I don’t want my tax money funding emergency response people to pull you out of your mangled car after you have an accident because you’re laughing so hard at how FOX News just owned those liberal snowflakes again.


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

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