No, the Asian woman in that viral BBC video was not the nanny

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

Two adorable children took the Internet by storm Friday morning when they stumbled into the background of a very serious live BBC interview their father was participating in remotely.

The video became an instant viral hit as Robert E. Kelly, a political science professor at South Korea's Pusan National University, attempted to maintain his composure while shooing his children out of the room. Luckily, a woman enters just in time, scooping up the kids and shutting the door behind them. 

While the spirited tots no doubt stole the show, there still remain some lingering questions — and misunderstandings — about the woman's identity. Is she the children's mother, or is she their nanny? 

Twitter users seemed to reach a consensus:

Even news outlets concluded the woman wrangling the children was a "frantic" or "frenzied" nanny, as in this Time article, which has since been updated:

A now-updated Time article referred to the woman in the BBC video as a "frenzied nanny."
Source: 
Time

But all signs point to the woman in the video being Kelly's wife and the mother of his children. Consider this tweet from December 2012 where Kelly refers to her as such:

While at first it might seem like an honest, irreproachable mistake to have confused Kelly's wife with a nanny, many people suggested there could be some subtle racism at work in assuming that an Asian woman is hired help.

XoJane contributor Nicole Blades wrote a piece in 2013 about her experience with people assuming that she, a black woman, was her mixed-race children's nanny and not their mother. Blades said she had an epiphany of sorts after someone asked her "Is that your baby?" one time too many.

"The question, though not intentionally malicious, implies, of course, that I am more likely the nanny, not the mother," Blades wrote. "But it cuts deeper than that. It's actually asking me to claim my child, to prove that I am the true owner. It is an affront to nothing short of our identities."

Blades added, "On some level, this question is merely a result of a failure of imagination, the inability of others to envision our connection. But it's also based on twisted assumptions about race, entitlement and socioeconomics."

So, yes — the BBC video is just another viral video that many people will soon forget about. But as Blades pointed out, unconscious biases about women of color don't dissipate so quickly. 

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Marie Solis

Marie is a Slay staff writer with focuses in culture and class. Her writing has appeared in Gothamist and the Awl. You can reach her at marie@mic.com.

MORE FROM

10 things you might have recently missed in the movement for social justice

From Charleena Lyles and Nabra Hassanen to acquittals and vigils, the last few days haven't been easy to keep up with.

Judge declares mistrial in retrial of officer who fatally shot Samuel DuBose

The jury spent five days deliberating Ray Tensing's fate.

University of Missouri to revoke Bill Cosby's honorary degree

The president of Mizzou said Cosby's actions were not in line with the university's core beliefs.

The Movement for Black Lives responds to recent claims of a fractured coalition

"We make no assumptions that everyone and everything within our movement is perfect — far from it," organizers said.

White Americans more likely to own guns, blacks more likely know someone who has been shot: study

New research reveals startling stats about the relationship African-Americans have with guns.

Lonzo Ball gets drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, and LaVar Ball gets exactly what he wanted

LaVar Ball has officially spoken it into existence.

10 things you might have recently missed in the movement for social justice

From Charleena Lyles and Nabra Hassanen to acquittals and vigils, the last few days haven't been easy to keep up with.

Judge declares mistrial in retrial of officer who fatally shot Samuel DuBose

The jury spent five days deliberating Ray Tensing's fate.

University of Missouri to revoke Bill Cosby's honorary degree

The president of Mizzou said Cosby's actions were not in line with the university's core beliefs.

The Movement for Black Lives responds to recent claims of a fractured coalition

"We make no assumptions that everyone and everything within our movement is perfect — far from it," organizers said.

White Americans more likely to own guns, blacks more likely know someone who has been shot: study

New research reveals startling stats about the relationship African-Americans have with guns.

Lonzo Ball gets drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, and LaVar Ball gets exactly what he wanted

LaVar Ball has officially spoken it into existence.