Viral video makes us think again before making assumptions based on race
Robert Kelly, right, a political science professor at Pusan National University, waits for a press conference with his wife Jung-a Kim, left, and children James and Marion, at the university in Busan, South Korea, Wednesday, March 15, 2017. As Kelly speaks from his home office via Skype with BBC about the just-ousted South Korean president, his eyes dart left as he watches on his computer screen as his young daughter parades into the room behind him. Her jaunty entrance resembles the exuberant march of the Munchkins celebrating the Wicked Witch's death in the "The Wizard of Oz." (Ha Kyung-min/Newsis via AP)
There’s a reason why I avoid Skype calls and video conferences when I’m working from home, and that reason was perfectly reflected in the latest viral video of political science professor Robert Kelly.
Professor Kelly was engaging in a live on-air video interview with BBC, where he was discussing the state of South Korea, when his two young children barged in and stole the show. Viewers couldn’t get enough of Kelly’s attempts to keep his composure while a panic-stricken woman frantically appeared in the background and hauled the two tots out of the room.
The clip has already garnered nearly 20 million views on YouTube, and not surprisingly, as the scene perfectly demonstrates the perils of working from home as a parent of young children.
But as with all viral videos, the seemingly light-hearted, relatable clip stirred up a slew of controversy as well.
Many viewers, upon seeing and sharing the clip, assumed that the woman in the background was the nanny.
The woman was in fact Kelly’s wife, Jung-a Kim, and the assumption that she was the children’s caregiver was hurtful to both the parents, and many viewers who immediately recognized that the speculations were solely based on racial bias. This resulted in the trending hashtag #NotTheNanny, an attempt to shut down the presuming posters who were making the claims without factual backup.
While Canada prides itself on being a racially-diverse country, racial biases definitely do still exist.
I know many women who have been mistaken as nannies while at the playground with their own children, and while the comments may not have been intentionally hurtful, they were based solely on outward appearances.
I have friends with biracial children who have been asked if their children were adopted, simply because their skin colours didn’t match.
While interracial marriages are continually on the rise in both the US and Canada, mixed-race couples are rarely reflected in mainstream media. I used to audition for TV commercials, and was continually conflicted with the reality that the directors were looking to cast families based on matched ethnicities. This made it nearly impossible for me to audition with my own children (because while I could pass as an African-American mother, my children didn’t quite look black enough to fit the mould).
Whether intentional or not, we need to stop making assumptions based on appearances - and teach our children to do the same.