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Not Even 2 and Microagressions


I am always reluctant to share stories about my kid at work. I do not want to be one of those parents whose posts are ALWAYS about their kids. But what I experienced last week at work makes me realize that even my not-even-2 year old isn't immune from microaggression and that her lesson in  black womanhood will start early.

My daughter was sick a week ago. She had roseola and missed almost a week of daycare. But prior to that, she had been enjoying it. I was apprehensive as she had been taken care of by family for well over a year. But I knew the day would come where she would go to daycare. Luckily for me, the daycare is walking distance from my job and I can pop over whenever I wanted to. I happened to come to pick her up pretty early. And I noticed a little boy helping her up as she fell. She was like "Bro, I am good!" and sorta fussed him in that toddler-type of way. And he giggled and backed off. HE was just being a good friend. I soon learned that she and that young boy had actually grown close. Based on the photos the teacher posts each day, her and this young man are joined at the hip. They hold hands. They play together. He even put her shoe on when she lost it. *all the feels* But helping her up? Nah, she got it!

My new supervisor asked me how my daughter was liking daycare. And I said she was doing well, so much so that I giggled at her being so independent and not wanting help from her new friend. I thought the story was cute. My supervisor responded:

"Oh! She sounds so sassy!!"


Sassy??? She's not even 2! For me, the word "Sassy" triggered so much. The idea of the "sassy black woman" irks my soul. This isn't to say that sassy black women do not exist. But for some reason in the psyche of whiteness, that is the ONLY archetype of black woman that they are "familiar" with aside from "Mammy" or "Sapphire". This isn't all we are.

You could have said anything else. You could have said she's exhibiting her leadership skills or independence (Isn't that what ya'll want us to do? "lean in" and teach our babies the way?) You could have said anything but "sassy". She's a toddler. Aren't all toddlers full of attitude??

I let out a sigh and said "I think she's just independent" and slowly walked away.  I realize that my little black girl is marked from the time she is born. She's sassy. She's attitudinal. She is a lot of things, ready for the "push out". She's a sexual creature, a wonton seductress, and "visualized as older" than her counterparts, even tough she will probably forever be the tiny one. She'll be catcalled even as a 5 year old. Where does it stop?

This type of faux-relatability is also indicative of neo-liberal white feminism. You are trying to relate to me by putting on a fake "blaccent" and call my kid "sassy". That is ridiculous. There is no way I could be comfortable with any of that.

My daughter is a smart, assertive girl.-- a fighter from the womb and her 1 lb birth weight and 64 days in the NICU. She deserves much more than "sassy" as a moniker.....

SO much more.


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