It was the viral video heard round the world on Friday; Robert E. Kelly, a professor of political science at South Korea's Pusan National University, was being interviewed from his home by the BBC when his children decided to crash the party. If you've ever worked from home and tried your hand at work/life balance, you get it. Actually, if you have children and try to get anything done like, ever, you get it. Kelly was one of the lucky ones; a woman comes in at the end of the video to give him a hand. And far too many people on the internet seem to be assuming the woman in the BBC Dad video is the nanny. No evidence needed, apparently.
The woman who swoops in to save the day is Asian. That's all we knew about her when the video went viral. That she was Asian, and she was really great at getting the kids to scurry out of the room. So why are people assuming she's the nanny? Are we really still, in 2017, openly stereotyping? Seeing an Asian woman in a white man's house with kids and telling ourselves, Yep, that's the nanny. Now let's send out a bunch of tweets to call her the nanny like it's a fact.
In fact, the kid wrangler in question looks to be Kelly's wife. Romper has reached out to Kelly for comment and is awaiting his reply. But as we wait, here is a tweet from 2012 Kelly posted of him and his wife at the South Korean voting polls.
Another Twitter user noted that the child in the video said in Korean, What's the matter, mom?
Admittedly the internet does love to make sweeping assumptions, and this viral video was no different. Social media was on fire Friday with users casting aspersions on Kelly as a bad father who was abusive to his so-called "nanny."
So here's what was even more disturbing; news outlets were actually assuming the woman in the video was the nanny as well. According to a report by Mic.com, an article appeared in Time after the video went viral referring to "the frenzied nanny." The post has since been corrected with the name of Kelly's wife, Jung-a-Kim.
As Kelly tries to nudge the child away with a swipe of the arm, a second child pops into the room. It's an infant sibling obliviously scooting through the door on a rolling walker. "Pardon me, pardon me," Kelly says, while closing his eyes in frustration, clearly conflicted between the urge to laugh or cry. "My apologies."
The episode reaches a crescendo when Kelly's frenzied wife Jung-a-Kim bursts in, in a cartoon-like blur, and corrals the children out of the room.
It's this sort of casual, almost benign stereotyping that can ultimately be so dangerous. Just because it's not aggressive or overt doesn't mean it's not changing our world view. In fact, because it can be so much more difficult to pinpoint, it's also harder to call out. Thankfully, we now have the internet for that too. On Saturday, many social media users called out the systemic racism of assuming an Asian woman caring for children in a white man's house was the nanny. Because ultimately, that's the only way racial profiling will eventually end, I suppose; calling it out every. Single. Time.