During my pregnancy, I would look at clothing, crib sets, and decorations suited for little boys. I noticed one theme in particular: monkeys.
I can understand the appeal, they’re animals, they’re known for climbing, crawling, and all sorts of other fun things. Monkeys can be gender-neutral. What’s not to like about baby monkeys all over your baby’s room?
However, these weren’t my first thoughts. My first thought was, “black monkeys.” My second thought was, “don’t be silly; surely you’re being oversensitive.”
Because of the fear of being oversensitive and bringing up the race card where it may be inappropriate, I kept this line of thought to myself. However, I still tried to avoid monkey things. After baby was born, I made sure that the monkey-themed hand-me-down baby clothes were never worn outside the house.
A few weeks after A was born, my mother was going through his clothes, trying for figure out what to put on him. Her hands brushed a monkey-themed sleeper, and she said, “I don’t want anyone thinking of my grandson as a black monkey.” A-ha! So I was not alone in this line of thinking. Perhaps it’s an inherited neurotic trait.
About a month ago, I went to Babies R Us to get… who knows what. Let’s be honest; if it weren’t for Amazon Prime, I’d probably be in Babies R Us every day. Anyway, I was walking past the clothing section, when I saw two Black women, one was probably around my age, and the other looked old enough to be the first one’s mother. I heard the younger one huff aloud, “hmmph, there are so many clothes with monkeys on them.”
Does this mean that there are other Black parents who have this thought? Is my train of thought helping to perpetuate the racism in our society? I have a feeling that I wouldn’t even think about it if any other kid wore monkey stuff, but, for some reason, with my child, I don’t want to risk it.