Mom had been calling her baby a name, which she did not find offensive. But one day when she took her child to the park, someone was offended. Her nickname for her daughter is “monkey.” Mom says that she and her husband are both Caucasian and that she simply called her daughter the name because the baby is giggly and her father had called her that when she was growing up.
“So I guess I passed it down.” However, other moms at the park did not like how she called her nine-month-old “monkey.” And they told her why.
Mom took her baby to the park. The girl was having fun, so mom said things like “Does monkey want to go higher?” and “Is monkey having fun.” That’s when she was confronted.
She shared her experience on Reddit so she could get the opinions of other parents on the issue.
“A black woman approaches me and looks absolutely stunned. At first, I thought something horrible must have happened because she looked completely taken aback, so I asked her if she was okay.”
The woman “explained she was surprised someone would use that term because of its racist history and that she was deeply offended hearing it, she expected more from this community, and that I must be insensitive to teach my daughter that sort of language was okay.”
Mom doesn’t know if the woman thought she was calling the other woman’s daughter “monkey,” but she doesn’t think so. “She popped up out of nowhere” when she confronted her.
She added, “I was so shocked that all I could do was apologize and then I just picked up my daughter and left. I cried when I got home, I think from a combination of the surprise of it all (you don’t exactly plan to be called a racist on a leisurely trip to the park), the idea that what I considered a pretty innocent nickname could be offensive to someone, and if I’m being totally honest, indignation at the accusation at all.”
She said, “I know there’s an ugly history of racist comparisons of monkeys with black people” but “I’ve never really interrogated my usage of this term in relation to my daughter.” She added, “I’m completely aware it’s the epitome of white privilege to leave such things unexamined, which is why I’m here hoping for some additional perspectives.”
Mom did not want to teach her child to be racist. She only wanted to show her daughter her love with a term of endearment.
Many people in the comments agreed that it was not offensive: “I’m a black teen, and no you aren’t living in a bubble, but some people do use the term monkey or ape to be racist and to describe black people. BUT! You were not talking to that woman. You were talking to your child. But I never hear my relatives or parents refer to the kids in our family as ‘monkey.’ And I don’t find anything wrong with you calling your kid that.”
After hundreds of comments, mom decided to “retire monkey from public use in favor of something else.”
What do you think about calling a child “monkey?”