Monkey, Better Known as MONKADEE

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A favorite of her toddler years, brown limbs flopping as she held it tightly around the mid-section, she affectionately called it ‘Monkadee’. I had no reason to question my daughter’s choice of a Lovie because for her it was everything comfy and cute. However, I would have had a reason to question dressing her in a shirt that said ‘cutest monkey in the park’, because I simply would not have done it! This brings me to the Swedish mom who vehemently defended her choice to allow her child to model a sweatshirt emblazoned ‘coolest monkey in the jungle’.

Surely, my heightened instinct to protect my black child at all costs, from both physical and emotional harm is universal. Clearly, not. I was absolutely shocked by this mom’s choice to defend the appropriateness of the H&M sweatshirt as “no big deal”. I wondered if a continental divide shielded her from the racist associations of black & brown people as animals. So I decided to instant message my cousin in Sweden. Perhaps she could affirm this mother’s ignorance as a result of some utopian disposition. Much to my dismay, my Swedish cousin confirmed my suspicion that there is no shortage of white supremacist attitudes in a supposedly socially progressive place like Sweden. My bi-racial cousin shared the popular disbelief and anger towards this mom for not protecting her child, our children, from historic and clearly contemporary coded racist imagery.

That sweet little boy, that king of all kings, was his mom’s alarming reaction merely a way to secure future financial gains for her son’s modeling career? If in her position I wouldn’t care how many coins were tossed my way, I could not imagine selling my child out. Could any mother of a black or brown child justify it? If as parents we are not speaking out and fighting against racist imagery and biased systems, I really question our ability to parent successfully.

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