Two Chicago mothers were stunned when they got a racist letter telling them that they should fire their African-American nanny.
Heather DeJonker’s nanny, Ferrai Pickett, watches her 5-year-old daughter as well as Maria Ippolito’s 4-year-old son. She helped Ippolito with her infant son as well and will sometimes bring her own children. All five children are good friends and can often be seen holding hands together around the neighborhood.
Then, on October 16, DeJonker found the unstamped and unsigned letter in her mailbox at her home. The letter, which is address “To Whom It May Concern,” says that it is “amusing” that DeJonker is “trying to rebel against the greatest leader this country has ever seen” by hiring a Black woman as a nanny.
“Honestly, you need to fire her because otherwise it looks like she is your modern-day mammy. Please take heed to the advice being shared in this letter, find a new nanny. We do not need an infestation in our community,” the letter says.
DeJonker’s mother was the first to see the letter, because she was visiting at the time.
“She was horrified. She called me at work and told me about it. When I read the letter, it felt like a punch in the stomach. I was nauseous, and I was praying to God that Ferrai didn’t have to see it,” DeJonker said.
Pickett, who has not seen the letter, said that she considered quitting when she heard about it.
“But then I remembered I have little ears listening to my every word. Little eyes watching my every move. Little hearts filled with love. Little brains thirsty for knowledge,” she said. “So why be angry and lash out when this person isn’t the first, last or only racist.”
But rather than remain silent, DeJonker and Ippolito are hosting a “Stand Up to Hate” play date for anyone in the community to attend, to bring together and celebrate the diversity around them.
“We knew that we could not remain silent or else it would seem like we were agreeing with this person or that we were afraid to speak up. We are all in the field of education and decided to use this as a teachable moment for our kids,” Ippolito said.
What’s more, all three women have crafted their own response to the letter-writers, saying, “In penning this letter, you wrote some truly sad, hurtful and completely false information we will not dignify with a response.”
Stand Up to Hate play date is at 5 p.m. this Thursday. pic.twitter.com/6g3XOw0af3
— Alisa Hauser (@DNA_WPB) October 23, 2017