So Racist It Made My Head Spin: Por Favor, Nanny, Please Make Dinner

I blame America's favorite book and movie, The Help.

A trio of white "busy moms" in Houston thinks that their peers need some assistance communicating with this generation's "help". A new book and website, Por Favor, Nanny, Please Make Dinner seeks to address the problem that "some of the wonderful women who care for our children and style our homes with their impeccable tidiness speak a different language."

These women are serious. "Asking for help in the kitchen is difficult," they write. So they made a Spanish and English cookbook, complete with "traditional American recipes that are delicious and easy to prepare."

No carne asada for dinner, nanny. Or tamales. Or empanadas.

The Houston Press blog noted that our authors seem to think it's extremely important to watch nanny when it comes to money and cleanliness. Por Favor, Nanny will teach you how to say in Spanish:

"Please wash hands after… using the restroom, coughing or sneezing," and

"Please bring me back the receipt," and

"How much did you spend?"

And, because nanny is clearly a dummy, you really want to make sure you know how to tell her "Please don't put grease down the sink."

Which makes me wonder:
1) If these women have the time to supervise nanny and tell her to make sure she washed her hands AND
2) They think nanny doesn't know to not dump grease down the sink...

...why do they even have nanny working there?

Oh, wait, so they can tell nanny, "Please have this recipe ready at 5 o'clock."

Aren't they so nice? They said "please".

Of course, these three try to parse their racism, writing that Por Favor, Nanny is for "new cooks, mothers, fathers, nannies, housekeepers and all other caregivers who work hard to put dinner on the table each night."

To which I say, bullshit. Who in the world needs to know how to tell their MOM "please wash hands" in Spanish?

What they need to really be learning to say in Spanish is "Nanny, do you think I'm a racist who's exploiting you?"


nick said…
"Nanny, do you think I'm a racist who's exploiting you?" Brilliant. Or maybe "I know you can't help doing everything wrong because you're foreign, so I'm going to be very patient and understanding and explain to very slowly what you're screwing up. Sorry I only speak English."
Anonymous said…
Liz - how horrific is that site, it made me really sad to read that. I don't know what is worse - that these women don't realise their blatant racism, or even worse still, that one can grow up in Texas and not speak any Spanish. Why don't Americans place an importance in speaking languages? If these women could communicate with their nannys in Spanish, they wouldn't need to create a website and gasp, they might have some empathy for their working situation.
I'm so delighted to know you. This stuff really bugs me. My oldest sister had a nanny who she treated like this. The nanny was responsible for taking care of the three children, doing laundry and some other stuff - because really, she should have time right? Crazy! I tried to talk to my sister, but she was too... stupid, my words (b/c I think she's an idiot)... racist, your words.

And you're right. She's an idiot racist!

I mean seriously - if you have to tell your nanny this stuff, why is she your nanny???
Mel said…
That website is ridiculous. The entire time I was speechless! If you have the time to explain all these things to a nanny and purchase this book to read and get tips--you have the time to take care of your own children and make dinner reading whatever recipe in whatever language you want. Oh my gosh...when will people stop?
Katie said…
Wow. There are so many kinds of wrong in this, I'm having trouble sorting through them all.

I went to their web site and saw the recipe they are featuring. If their instructions are followed, the finished product would be pretty messed up. I don't wonder who would be blamed in a house where a nanny was asked to follow that recipe; I'm dead certain it wouldn't be the women behind Por Favor Nanny.

So let me get this all straight. It's a cookbook for non English speaking nannies, but with all kinds tips for presumably wealthy, English-speaking moms that will enable them communicate their expectations to their employees, with the added bonus of clearly demonstrating exactly how racist & condescending they are - in Spanish. It includes recipes in both English and Spanish, many of which are recipes for Mexican food (as listed on the web site), written by people who don't seem to have a firm grasp on how to write recipes.

Did I get that right?

This has got to be self-published, because who in their right mind would agree to publish this?
Stefania said…
How do you say "WTF" in Spanish? This makes my heart hurt.
1969 said…
Liz Dwyer said…
Yep, and if it's like that, don't hire the person. It's soooo condescending and racist.

IExactly. And, you make me think about how Los Angeles schools should be teaching second languages--either Spanish or something else--from the primary grades. It makes so much sense but we don't do it.

So glad to know you, too. And, er, your sister...sorry talking to her about it hasn't gone well.

And they're having a book tour, so obviously, other folks agree that their "tips" are useful and worth spreading.

Good point about the nanny being blamed if the recipe doesn't turn out right. I'm sure it would go down like that.


Post-racial America for the win!
Melanie said…
Wait. What? Oh hell no. This is so horrible. I mean really. How out of touch with modern society are these women that they think crap like that is even slightly okay?

Oh yeah. You said Texas right?
Liz Dwyer said…
But I think these three could realistically be anywhere in the country. I could see it here in LA for sure, sadly enough.
BBJ said…
I remember that something like this came out and was in the news during the eighties, when I was in elementary or middle school. Our rabbi gave a sermon about it, if I recall correctly. I will have to ask my mom if she remembers.

Disgusting, that twenty-five years later, we're back to this again.

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