Matching with an Au Pair: When Racism interferes

by cv harquail on October 2, 2009

Take a deep breath everyone– time to talk about something many people find uncomfortable: Racism.  But talk about it we must, because racism gets in the way of our relationships with each other.

3 Sources of “Racism Interference”

Racism interference can come from three directions, any of which can influence your match with an Au Pair.

  1. The au pair’s racism leads her to reject or prefer your family, your children, you as a host parent, and/or your community.
  2. Your own racism leads you to reject or prefer a particular au pair, au pairs from certain countries, or au pairs with certain cultural values.
  3. Your concerns about racism (e.g., its effect on your children, or the patterns of behavior in your community, worries that your au pair will be racist) lead you to reject or prefer certain specific au pairs or candidates from particular cultures.

man, woman and child threecee.jpeg

If you agree that all of us are (“still”) influenced by racism, even though the intensity and type of influence may have changed over the years, you recognize that racism is possibly at work when you and an au pair candidate consider a potential match.

I’d like us to consider all three ways that racism can influence our matches… but in this post I want to focus on

#1: Racism as expressed by potential au pairs.

I’m starting here not to blame au pairs first, but because I got an email from a host parent with a request that we talk about her experience.

This parent writes:

I have been a host mom for about five years, and it still amazes me how difficult my screening process can become when selecting an Aupair. In the beginning, the selection process seems to go extraordinary well, until I mention to the probable Aupair about our race. (My family is African American.)

Too often, I don’t get another response, until I call or email the Aupair days later to ask how are things. The usual response is “I am sorry, I already matched with a family”. But I know this isn’t always true, because the agency had indicated that the Aupair is still available.

So far, the Aupairs that have seemed to lose interest once they know we are black have been from Germany, or France, and Switzerland. I usually request Aupairs from these specific countries because, they tend to be very strong drivers, and becuase both of my boys understand German and French and I’d like to reinforce their language skills.

Earlier, we had a problem with an Aupair who knew of my ethnicity when she matched. Then, once she arrived in our home, she decided she could not take care of the children because of our ethnicity.

Two of our Aupairs have been  black women from South Africa. We have also had 2 white European Aupairs. The first European Aupair finished her year with us. However, she explained to me that it was often difficult for her, since she was uncomfortable taking my youngest child to the park because of the stares and glares she would receive from other white parents. (See #3 above).

The second aupair, after being in our home for only a week, stated she wanted “American culture” and not black culture. Ironically, she says black culture, even though our children are the only black children in their entire school. Both my Husband and I were born in America and raised in predominately white neighborhoods, so it’s not like she’d only experience “black” culture and not “american” culture (as though these were different?).

I have determined by deduction that unfortunately, in today’s society, it is acceptable for a black Aupair to push a stroller with a white child, but it is not acceptable for a white Aupair to be a caregiver or an Aupair to black children.

What a Smile! bobAuBuchon.jpeg

I hope I don’t sound bitter or upset, but I do feel a little disenchanted with the idea of “cultural exchange”. I want to be able to get the full advantage of the benefits of au pairs from other countries (even countries with certain languages) — but now I’m wondering whether this is less possible for some families than for others.

I realize that I could just interview aupairs who look like me or seem to be my same race, because they (the Aupairs) would presumably be comfortable living with us.

But what happened to the idea of “cultural exchange”?

Dear HostMomOfColor —

I’m not surprised that you’ve experienced this dynamic, but I am sad about it. Even when we recognize that these young women may not have had educations and life experiences that would teach them to be less racist or to work to resist the influence of racism on their own behavior, it still hurts. What I’ve learned as a white woman who has taught undergraduates about race, class, gender & orientation differences/dynamics, is that you can explain racism to people, but they have to want to unlearn racism themselves. And, doing this is hard work. It is unpredictable, and it may not be what they are up for.

All that said, there are some things I wish for:

I’d like au pair agencies to address racism head on.

  • I’d like to see Agencies put something in their materials about how American families can be so diverse (Two Moms! Two Dads! Christians&Pagans! Bio&Adopted! BiRacial/Bicultural! Typical learners & Special needs! And more!). And, all of these are “American” culture!
  • I’d like to see au pair Orientation have a session on how to handle “difference” that overlaps with and goes beyond “culture”.
  • I’d like LCCs to have monthly cluster meetings where racism and diversity discussed and when inclusive behaviors are taught (maybe even by professionals).
  • I’d like learning to live and work in diverse, inclusive situations to be an explicit focus and goal of being an au pair and having an au pair.
  • I’d like Agencies to ask potential au pairs to discuss in their applications how they would manage being in a “diverse” (not just different) environment.
  • Maybe au pair Agencies could even include a check-off list of what the au pair feels comfortable with, so that families with different profiles don’t waste their time? How about a list where you can indicate: I am comfortable being placed with a family that is non-white, non-English-speaking-at-home, includes a special needs child, is headed by a single parent, and so on.  [note 10/3: From the comments, it looks like Cultural Care already does this. Can anyone confirm for me, or fill in about other agencies?]

Host parents, what thoughts do you have for this mom?

What ideas do you have for the au pair ‘system’ for dealing with racism just from this one direction, from au pairs themselves?

{ 56 comments }

Nanda October 2, 2009 at 10:16 pm

I am a future Brazilian Au Pair, looking for a family. I can’t even put in words how this post made me upset. It’s so so bad see that we still have to live with this kind of thing. No one is better because he/she is black, white, asian or anything else. All we are human beings!!!!
I come from a white family, with roots in Spain and Syria, and my elder sister has a black boyfriend. So what?? There’s no difference. Not for me. But they suffered a lot on their early relationship days…
Other thing I want to say is, as Au Pair in matching process, I feel sometimes the families find a great girl but don’t match her because she is from this or that place. I say this because I know a lot of Au Pairs and we hear lots of stories…

It’s sad… =/
“I Have a Dream….”

NewAPMom October 2, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Oh boy. This is a tricky one.

It shouldn’t be. Nanda is absolutely right. Neither race nor color should make any difference whatsoever.

I have a few random thoughts on the subject.

First, having lived in France, my experience is that racism there is far more rampant than it is here, especially in Paris. It’s pretty awful. I routinely saw black people get stopped in the subway by scary looking police officers with big dogs, for no apparent reason other than being black. I think it was just last year that there was a big riot in Paris because of racial inequality. It’s a big problem there. So knowing that background exists might shed some light on the “baggage” that French au pairs are carrying.

Our last au pair was black (and ourselves and our kids are white.) I think you’re right, HostMomOfColor, that people don’t bat an eye to see a black au pair with white kids, but that’s not necessarily true in the inverse. We live in a very whitebread neighborhood, and I think that was a problem for her. I think her experience with culture shock was magnified because of it. Just small things – like she wanted to get extensions done in her hair, and I didn’t know where to point her to (although I asked around and eventually found a place.) But the small things add up, you know? I think it contributed to her feelings of isolation.

And finally one more anecdote. My husband and I were considering adoption, specifically interracial adoption. We thought about it, and its implications, for months, and finally decided that we weren’t up to it. We decided that in order to provide the kind of community that a black child would feel welcome in, we’d have to sell our house and move somewhere different, start attending church, and meet a whole new community of people. And we also decided – precisely as you say – that we wouldn’t be able to cope with (and didn’t want to put our child through) a lifetime of ignorant stares and whispers. Entering into an interracial family dynamic is a big deal, and shouldn’t be undertaken lightly.

So I don’t know what to tell you. I wish we lived in a world where this wasn’t an issue. It should not be. It’s sad and frustrating that it is. I think, though, that if an au pair decides, for whatever reason (ignorance included), that she isn’t up to the interracial family dynamic, well, maybe it’s better for her to decide that before she gets here. There are plenty of great au pairs out there who don’t have prejudices. Hopefully you can find some of them.

If any of that is offensive or hurtful, I deeply apologize.

soon to be AP October 3, 2009 at 1:25 am

To host mom of color, I am an Australian soon to be au pair, and I would have definately matched with a family regardless of their color. In fact, I love meeting people of different races, and have had many African friends, when I admit this, that different races interest me, people often say I am racist, when in fact, I disagree, as racism is a form of discrimination.
This raises an interesting point. I feel that acknowledging color, which some people find racist, is very different to discriminating because of color.
I had newly African immigrants in my very westernised school, and whilst people weren’t degrading to them openly, I found it racist when they would avoid them, or speak to them in broken English when unnecessary.
Any, I think sometimes racism is a result of upbringing, or even ignorance, than outright nastiness. You are better off with a more open minded au pair anyway.
It is also sad that society is often so closed minded, especially now that The USA has an African American president. I agree that the au pair companies should focus more on the diversity of American families, as there is often a stereotype portrayed.

Au Pair October 3, 2009 at 5:49 am

I have been an au pair and this post does make me sad!
I was wondering why an agency would do that when I recieved a piece of paper in the matching process where I had to state whether I would be ok to live in a single Dads family to live with a religion other than mine or yes to live with an African American family. This post explains a lot and I can understand now why they would do it. To save the hostfamilies time on trying to contact au pairs who are not even wiling to get to know them. I got rejected from a Jewish family because I am german. Even though I think that its not fair to blame people on something they did not even grow up with I could understand, I don’t know the exact backround of their family.
But rejecting somebody just because of the colour of their skin is not acceptable and I don’t really think that those girls are interested into cultural exchange.
But I had a different experience on the playground. The kids I took care of are white, and I am white too. Now goingto the playground I found white mums with their kids who would not really talk to me when they found out I was an au pair because I wasn’t a mum, just an au pair. There were also a lot of black nannies wo would have fun together and who I would have liked to get in contact with since we met there often and did the same job. But no they would not talk to me because I was white because Au Pairs take away their jobs. So I felt pretty alone there (except for the kids I was playing with but not being liked but watched from those nannys and mums I felt pretty uncomfortable)
Somehow I considered that as a form of racism also.
But anyways a friend of mine took care of 4 African American kids and she never had the feeling of being looked at in a weird way.

I hope for you who posted that topic that you will have more look the next time and find the right girl who has enough courage to stand up and say well I might live in a white neighborhood and take care of 2 black kids but so what I have a hostfamily who treats me right I have hostkids I love and who love me and they give me the chance that I can live my American Dream.

sunnyvah October 3, 2009 at 7:58 am

Well this is an entry for me to throw in my experience as i have been an au pair at a family with two dads.
I remember the exciting time of waiting for possible HFs. I always thought of myself as open and tolerant and felt that as long as a family respects me, my cultures and beliefs I don´t care if theirs are different. And then I got an e-mail from a family with twi dads. My first reaction: No! I want to experience the average american family and if I´m able to choose then why should I choose them?
This reaction made me REALLY upset with myself and I decided to give them the same chances the other families got. So i talked on the phone and we wrote e-mails. But you know what: I was prejudiced, but more like that I saw everything positive and didn´t really listen to my guts. And it wasn´t just me. My 80 years old granny always reassured me how interesting and sensible homosexual men are… Yeah. Almost everyone reacted like that. I´m from a christian background and my belief is important for me, but even the people I talked about this (except the pastor) were ok with it.
So i didn´t give them the same chances as other families. I was overly excited and ignored the weird feeling I got.
Unfortunately the story has no good ending, as we were no good personal fit and i got REALLY (needing a surgery-) sick and had to fly home. My problem wasn´t their sexuality (even though there were some problems especially me being left alone with questions by the kids where their mum is and stuff like that) but that we weren´t a personality fit. I lived the past 8 years in an all female household, am not the type of male friends (I´m the real girly girl who needs to be around other females) and went to an all-male household. The dads were typical men, we didn´t communicate enough even though I constantly told them to tell me if sth wrong as I don´t do things purposely wrong etc(and of course, being in a “different” family and not being able to talk about the things that make it different and how to react as an au pair isn´t helpful. Especially if you feel like offending someone with topics). There was a tension all the time and i thought about rematching for almost 6 months…
And there was also (thats what I thought) a kind of insecureness about their role as parents which lead to mixed signals to me (good at you´re job or not???).
I went to Ireland as an au pair in a “normal” family and guess what: I still consider my HM as a friend. And my HF as well. But if it would have been just him or twice of him— i don´t think it would have worked that well.
So I think there are au pairs who fit in my former family. Just not me.
I don´t know what I would do the next time.
Basically i think: if my gut feeling is ok: i would do it. Maybe two different dads would have changed the experience.
There are enough possible problems in a “normal” HF, I don´t know if I would need the extra problems. If I would get an application of a “different” family I would talk to them and try to be objective but at the end I would listen to my gut feeling (as you HF would do too, wouldn´t you?!) and I wouldn´t force myselt in any kind of need-to-be-tolerant-at-any-price. Because that´s the mistake i did.

Alma October 3, 2009 at 8:41 am

CV, I love your suggestions. If role plays could be added, I think everyone would get a real sense of what it feels like to be on both ends. For the local people, there is a GREAT free program offered called “Conversations on Race” that are facilitated groups to discuss all the above topics. It begins Oct. 15th and you can get details about it from the town or the Montclair Board of Ed. Heck, you could even start your own in your own area.

Susann October 3, 2009 at 8:57 am

My AuPair year in the States was 2005/2006, I was screened in November 2004 and I do remember having to fill out such a questionnaire, indicating whether I would be ok with single parent families, other religions, other ethnic background, “two-mums” – “two-dads” families, etc. That was with Cultural Care Au Pair and I had to fill it out along my other preferences (how many children, how old, etc.). Apart from the fact that Cultural Care respected none of my wishes when pre-matching me with my host family, I liked having that choice. I stayed with an Indian-Italian-American Family and I didn’t mind it one bit. In contrast, I enjoyed it. We always learned in school that the USA is the melting pot of cultures and that’s what I wanted to experience and got it! I don’t understand why girls would refuse to go with a family with a different skin colour. I am German, I lived in 4 different countries in the last 5 years and dealt with so many different cultures – I don’t understand how narrow minded some of the girls are. Isn’t the Au PAir program all about cultural exchange and learning about different cultures?

NewAP Mom October 3, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Oh I just remembered something. My au pair, who is from the Caribbean, once told me that lots of people from the Caribbean (herself included) don’t like/trust Africans, because Africans were the ones who sold her ancestors into slavery. Blew me away. So sometimes prejudice can be more subtle than color.

Emma October 3, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I’ve experienced racism here in Denmark. Many of the families like to choose APs from the Phillipines (one of my friends here included) because they feel they can exploit them better. My friends HM actually said (to my HM, not me) that that is why they chose my friend as an AP, so they could work her longer hours than legal and expect her not to talk back, because she is making more money as an AP here than in the Philippines. She intends to stand up for herself as soon as her visa goes through and she finds another family (she did not go through an agency.) Another AP friend of mine says she heard of them doing the same with APs from the Ukraine, so it isn’t strictly about race, but more about wealth-of-country, I think. Not that that makes it any better.

Anonymous October 3, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I think the reality is that some countries aren’t as culturally diverse as others and while some future au pairs might be actively racist others might be disinclined to accept an offer from a family that is of a different skin color simply because they have no experience with people of another race and find that intimidating. They may also just simply be ignorant about people of other races due to this lack of interaction.

I have an Asian au pair whose first host family was black and her family discouraged her from accepting the offer. But she saw it for what it was – fear of the unknown – not sure that she would have called it racism (although it is). She loved this family and found their family and culture to be wonderful. Not too many black people in Asia, or Ireland for that matter or many other countries that some of the au pairs come from.

So while I understand that it is hurtful to have these suspicions about the au pairs intentions in not matching with you it may help to understand their perspective in that it is maybe more of a cultural exchange than they are comfortable with. My current au pair is a perfect example of how it is really just finding the best match for your family. And you may suspect that the reasons for their rejection are for something hurtful such as the color of your skin you don’t know that 100% so try to brush it off and keep trying. I think we all have felt rejected for many reasons despite what color we are, I know this feels bad but I guess we just have to brush it off and move on.

Anonymous October 3, 2009 at 4:34 pm

I don’t agree with the idea of giving the aupair a checklist of traits they feel comfortable with including race. As far as I am concerned, that would give tacit approval to racism. It is my observation that many racists are in denial. Very few of them are crude enough to admit to such an unethical sentiment. My agency does not send pcitures of families and homes prior to selection. I like this. I would
also like to speak up in favor of Europeans. They are no more biased in my experience than some Asians. What I have personally observed is that South American people are very open minded about race and religion. It is also true that Germany is a very diverse society now. Lots of different people live there. Then, too, I think that there are many families who make racial/religious/ cultural decisions and cannot be questioned because how many of us are really going to tell the whole truth and after all, we feel that we are customers. In these cases, we just don’t call. My agency does not assign profiles. That may be a critical difference.

an aupair October 4, 2009 at 11:04 am

Emma, I’m in Norway, and have been wondering why all the au pairs here (besides me) are Filipino. I guess that explains it. Au pairs here can only work for 30 hours, so it’s unfortunate, but not very surprising, that people would want to get an au pair who would work more hours without complaining.
Hopefully this isn’t the case for all of the families who hired Filipinos. There is free childcare here, even for babies, so people shouldn’t really need more than 30 additional hours of childcare with an au pair.

Nina November 1, 2009 at 11:45 am

I am Norwegian myself, and work at a local daycare center. The childcare in Norway is not for free, it comes to about $400 a month for 5 days a week.

Mom in US February 25, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Nina, daycare 5 days a week (for one child) is approaching $400 per WEEK here, and with 2 kids you’re up to $2500 per month, so $400/month is a bargain!

A-Mom-ymous October 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm

We have a re-match au pair who is of African descent who had placed herself with an African American family, but found the experience intolerable. She felt extremely isolated, and these hosts were all about status (they lived in a neighborhood that was not ethnically diverse; mostly wealthy caucasians). When this au pair first matched, she was very concerned about finding a family who would be comfortable with her dark complexion. She was worried about how it looks to take care of little white babies.

We are caucasians of classic mixed-European descent. Our kids are blond and blue eyed. When we met and rematched, she made a big leap of faith. The experience has been wonderful for us all.

Franzi October 4, 2009 at 2:19 pm

i’m sad that HostMomOfColor has to go through this. my immediate suggestion would be to include these experience in the first communication with the maybe-AP in order not to invest time in the girls who have a problem.

from the AP point of view i can add that in my hometown there were 3 black people. that’s it. i was not exposed to being around black people and i think i would not have chosen a family that was not caucasian because the mere step to go abroad by myself was already a huge challenge. and i feel that choosing a family of color would have added yet another challenge. because i was never exposed to different ethnicities before my AP year i just assumed there had to be differences, more problems to be expected etc etc. of course that is very superficial but that is what went through my mind.

my time in the states exposed me to the melting pot and i realized how narrow minded my thoughts were. but i attribute that to growing up in a small town where it’s difficult to have an interracial influence.

when i spent some time in africa i experienced racism the other way (being the only white person around and/or being considered the rich white and virtually reduced to color being a wealth attribute).

more education, more exposure to people from different backgrounds all helped to make me less racist. but i have to admit that i still have prejudices to some cultures/races and it’s my own struggle to overcome.

i agree that having a check-list such as what races would be ok, if gay parents are ok etc. does support underlying racism. however, it would make future APs think more about the options out there. brochures usually advertise the typical american family and this is where changes need to me made. there is no “typical” and america is diverse, colorful, and very different from many AP home countries. brochures and AP agents need to reflect that diversity!

Calif Mom October 4, 2009 at 7:43 pm

People have to be ready to get to know people who are “different” (or “differnt”, depending on where you live in the States!) and I think that most “majority” people who are more accepting of people from different races and cultures are people who have been personally exposed to people who are different, whether measured by sexual orientation, socio-economic class, or race.

But you also have to be ready and open to being wrong about your preconceptions, and that is something that you can’t force on people. So I think that screening out those who can’t get past their own prejudices is a kindness and probably leads to fewer rematches in the long run. No one has time or emotional energy for this kind of crap.

It makes me sad that a host family has a much smaller candidate pool to draw from, because it’s hard enough to find a good match when you’re open to lots of different options.

Anna October 4, 2009 at 8:18 pm

I am outraged on your behalf. I would loudly complain to your agency about every single au pair who rejects to you because of your race (easy to check that they are lying to you when they say they matched).
Agencies can kick out au pair candidates if they suspect that they are rejecting families because of location… I think they should boot out au pairs who discriminate on race.
Now, single parent household, special needs child, or another language in the house are valid discrimination criteria – they relate to cultural and capability criteria of au pairs. But skin color alone… I feel it is wrong!

Anon mom October 4, 2009 at 8:35 pm

I do not seek out au pairs from specific countries, because I know about cultural antisemitism there. Our family is observantly and proudly Jewish; in addition my husband is a dark skinned south american, and our kids are… tan year round.
I grew up in former Soviet Union. I know that even the most open minded people there have certain stereotypes about Jews, even if they are positive ones. The divide runs deep and the culture is old. Us being Jewish would matter, one way or the other.
I like to get au pairs from the New World – young nations used to diversity and with an uninterrupted history of immigration. I feel that Brazilian au pairs we had are open minded, indiscriminately kind, and color and religion blind.
Even if I get an Eastern European au pair who is not racist or antisemitic, my own biases and thoughts that she is having those unexpressed feelings about us, would make me uncomfortable.
I chatted with one Russian au pair candidate when I was not searching – I met her in other ways. She openly admitted to me that many families who contacted her were Jewish and she would not match with them because of it. She clearly was uncomfortable telling me about it, but she explained it that her mom had several bad experiences with “them” (i.e. jews)… right, pleasing her mom.

Michigan Mom February 26, 2010 at 6:12 am

We are also observant Jews, but we made a conscious decision to not prejudge candidates based on their countries of origin, and we have been very lucky so far. We have had two really good au pairs who happily participated in Shabbat dinners and Passover seders, one from Germany and one from Russia.

On the other hand, our first au pair left us in part because she didn’t like the kosher kitchen (there were many factors, but that was one). And she was from the New World–Colombia.

Calif Mom October 4, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Anna,

I agree with your strong reaction to the OP’s situation, but if we could mandate colorblindness (or better yet, an acceptance of all differences) we would not be having this discussion at all in 2009.

People won’t match with me because I am not uber-wealthy. But if there is a family who can offer what this theoretical AP is looking for in the way of some Hollywood American Dream, why I should I prevent them from matching with a greedy, shallow AP? ;-)

It is a shame that the cultural exchange is not interpreted by some APs as anything more than ‘a trip to Disneyland’. It just makes it harder for us to sift through and find the wheat amid the chaff. It is very sad that the OP has an even harder time, but I’m not sure that any actions taken on the part of the agencies will actually help. Call me skeptical, or maybe cynical, but I still think you can’t make someone have an open mind.

host mom of color October 5, 2009 at 8:40 am

I wanted to thank you all, for your kind words and support. I have spoken with my agency and unfortunately they seem oblivious or, maybe they are refusing to admit there is a serious problem. (Admitting there is a problem may leave them vulnerable and litigious) They have responded with a plethora of excuses; including maybe it is your location. Heck, I live in a suburb 20 minutes from New York City. So,I have decided to move forward and take my experiences as a seasoned host mom, and continue to support the Aupair program, because when you are matched with a great Aupair, regardless of color or creed, the experience is surreal. So I thank the wonderful people from this amazing blog. Most important, I thank CV for hosting such a supportive forum.

Lidi October 5, 2009 at 9:57 am

I’m sorry that you’re experiencing discrimination, but I’m glad that it’s led to this conversation. We live in an urban city in a very diverse community that is predominately African-American and Latino with mixed incomes and we’ve tried to be explicit about that when interviewing candidates, precisely because we imagine many au pairs come to the US thinking they will be living in a stereotypical rich suburb surrounded by blond-hair, blue-eyed people (I am Latina).

Our first au pair was from S. Africa, but was white. I was naive to think that because she was from S. Africa she would be especially open-minded, but was disappointed to learn she was the opposite. She never made blatant comments, but shortly after she arrived I could tell she was a bit uncomfortable with some of the residents in the community and at one point my three year old started to say she didn’t like, or was afraid of, “black” people! I was very upset and spoke to the au pair, but she denied saying anything like that. We had other problems with her and we eventually re-matched early, but it highlighted the need to screen even more carefully the next time around.

We pointed out the diversity of our neighborhood and stressed our “no tolerance” of racism or racist remarks with the next round of candidates and our current au pair has been great with the kids; however, she has made comments about how she feels unsafe at times, so I wonder if that has to do with peoples’ race or just a reality of living in the city? Race and poverty is a controversial topic and it’s hard to screen for racism when many of these young women come from somewhat privileged backgrounds.

I don’t have any solutions, but wanted to share my story and know you’re not alone when navigating these real-world issues.

My 2 cents October 5, 2009 at 11:04 am

I feel equally upset for this host mom. In all seriousness, however, is using and applying stereotypes in interviewing and selecting “racist”? If so, I dare say most of us must be guilty as charged.

From an ideological standpoint almost everyone will agree no one should be judged by race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc. It’s very easy to say that generically speaking no one should be judged by their color, religion, or where they come from, and to judge those that do as many of us are here.

However, when it comes down to adding another person into your family and your home for an extended period of time, I dare say for many of us this is pure rhetoric. We want the AP who will be able to “gel” with our families and our lifestyles as quickly as possible. We want the AP who can drive our car, make our kids the food they prefer, and make friends, as quickly as possible. We do not want to risk opening our lives up to someone who has a higher chance of feeling isolated or awkward and will therefore leave us midstream. So we make decisions based on stereotypes and experiences of those around us (including parents on this site). We avoid the Thai girls that “can’t drive,” avoid the “Brazilian” party girl, the “Russian” who will leave the instant she hits ground, and we avoid the “catholic” girl who isn’t used to a kosher kitchen. Is that “racist”? If you are factoring these things into your analysis, and go by the definition of “race” in Webster’s, you are. But when your goal is the happiness and stability of your own family, doesn’t that make it “different”?

The host mom of color is equally “guilty” of this. She said, “I usually request Aupairs from these specific countries because, they tend to be very strong drivers, and becuase both of my boys understand German and French and I’d like to reinforce their language skills.” Isn’t this host mom exercising a form of racism via her selective criteria? She openly admits she screens for certain countries in her search. Her reasoning seems unquestionably reasonable to me. So, how is a decision that since you are Jewish and live in a predominately Jewish neighborhood and therefore screen for a Jewish au pair much different?

Seems to me we all put restrictions on our application of “cultural exchange.”

[Putting on my flame retardant vest now]

NoVA Host Mom October 5, 2009 at 1:10 pm

I am so sorry that the OP had (and has) such problems. Our current AP and I had to have a discussion about the racial and ethnic mix of where we live based on her personal “comfort level” and just how much I will or will not accomodate it.

She decided she did not like riding the bus home from school (no driving, so options are limited). When I asked her about it, she commented that there were a lot of “black people” on the bus at night and she was not comfortable. When asked, she said no, no one had said anything inappropriate to her and no, no one had tried to touch her inappropriately. In fact, frequently people who knew each other would sit together and she would sit alone near the bus driver (whom she also did not like talking to her even though he was just trying to make small talk with someone he saw riding 4 nights a week). It reminded me of a comment she had made when she first arrived and had started attending church. The church she attends has both English and Spanish services, and she told me she did not like going to the English services b/c there were so many black people there and she did not like the way they spoke (what she considered to be foul language, I think).

I decided this was an opportunity to teach. I explained to her that this is a very diverse region that we live in and while yes, some black people are arrested for crimes, so are lots of white and hispanic (she’s from South America) and asian and whomever else messes up enough for attention from my husband or I (we’re cops). I told her personal comfort is not enough of a reason for us to drive her to and from the train or school itself. If there was an actual safety issue, we need to know for the basic law enforcement reactions for it, but otherwise, this AP experience was to include moving outside of her comfort zones. She understood and agreed and has been working on things (as far as I know). I am sure I will never break whatever stereotypes she has going in her head, but if I can at least plant those seeds of questions, then that is fine with me.

NoVA Host Mom October 5, 2009 at 1:33 pm

And while I see what My 2 Cents is saying, I think that racism and culturalism are two different things. Lack of exposure to other cultures, regardless of their race (think of white hispanics and black hispanics – Hispanic is not a “race” but an “ethnicity”) does have some impact on both how the HF views things and the potential APs view things, and how those two groups think things might go. I am giving my AP the benefit of the doubt that it is more due to her lack of exposure to other races that causes her “comfort issues” than a genuine dislike or displeasure of being around “black people”.

Based on the VA DMV’s view on reciprocity for driver’s licenses, I would have to guess that the AP who would have a more likely chance of being able to drive here (with fewer issues, I hope) include those from France and Germany (and Canada). That’s not racism, that’s what the DMV has determined based on the standards and types of driving that is done in those countries compared to the US. England & Thailand drive on the other side of the road – not wanting to go through the learning curve with an English or Thai AP ; is that racism or just a cultural difference that the HF does not wish to accomodate? I think that falls to the cultural difference and not so much racism.
Flame Away!

Anonymous October 5, 2009 at 3:47 pm

I have a friend who is Muslim. She is pretty observant and her husband is more liberal ( he never attends religous services, eats all kinds of food which she does not keep at home, etc .) She , too, has had lots of problems matching with aupairs although her family is
the nicest family you can imagine. She has even had aupairs who have asked to rematch after they arrived for no clearly definable reason. The girls who stay have had wonderful years. It is always hurtful when one is the victim of prejudice. Fortunately, they have an LCC who told the agency very honestly what she thought was the problem. It didn’t really seem to make much difference. When the LCC took a hard line, one girl lied and told the agency that the family didn’t speak English at home and another one lied and said they made her do housework. But the girls who have stayed have loved them.

host mom of color October 5, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Hello, My 2 cents
I agree to disagree with you. However, let’s add my two cents. The Aupairs that reject our family for reasons”unknown” have read, my in depth host family letter. Which emphatically states I am black, then they have viewed our family pics. The Aupairs(usually white Aupairs) are interviewed thoroughly, first by my Husband and I,and then separately by a matching professional if needed(strong candidates). The process is viewed to some as “extra” and comes across as if there is something wrong with being a black host family Is this specialized screening process utilized by white families. Should I only pick girls that will”fit” into my household. So please tell me, what exactly is the right fit for people of color? Are we just limited to black looking Aupairs, because they blend well. Then what about the plethora of Black Aupairs that are matched with White families. Did someone separately interview them to ask if they are willing to live or assimilate into their new family culture. Is the norm. I am not selecting an Aupair because of her race or skin tone, but rather the specific skill needed. It appears the program, may not fit for people of color, if the program has to be tailored or amended to suit a specific race. Also, I wanted to add that isolation is not a factor for our Aupairs, since we live in a diverse suburb neighborhood, even though largely it is still a predominately white town. Furthermore, my biggest reason I request certain genre(s) of Aupairs, is in my area in the Winter months it snows heavily and my younger child needs to be transported to pre-school. So, I need a strong driver who is able to navigate well in inclement weather. So I need a strong weather driver, It happens that Germany and France and Switzerland have heavy snowfalls annually. Should I only look for black looking Aupairs in these Countries( which is a rarity)? Are should I search in South Africa (where all the black looking Aupairs are concentrated)and there average snowfall totals are next to non existent, in addition to the fact ,the South African Aupairs drive on the opposite side of the road. Which one would be the better fit?
Lastly, I being faulted for doing what the majority of Host moms(regardless of race) have done. Which is perusing the Aupair database to search for an individual who serves the criterion needed.

Anonymous October 5, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Although our family is liberal, we live in a socially conservative part of the country. We have very few blacks in our community but we have many hispanic immigrants and it is common for a hispanic woman to be employed as a maid or nanny. (Yes, the term “maid” is actually used.) Many neighbors are unfamiliar with the term “au pair” and our children have learned the appropriate ways to define “au pair” to their peers. (I’m glad our children have learned to defend their au pair’s dignity too.) Shamefully, I admit I avoid hispanic AP’s and black AP’s because I want to spare them from direct racism in our community. When I bring an AP to the social security office, often the clerks only speak in Spanish on the intercom and there is usually confusion about the J-1 Visa when we get to the window. I can only imagine what a Hispanic AP would face at the window in a community frustrated with illegal immigration.
I watched Obama’s inauguration with my mother and it was profound to me how much has changed in 1 generation. Although she was a bra burner in her own right, she never believed she would see the day an African American would become president. Really?! Tears were streaming down her cheeks and I was stunned. I believe my kids’ generation is going to be more tolerant even if I’m too chicken shit to host a hispanic or black AP. I am doing some things right. At age 3 my daughter informed her religious pre-school classmates about gay marriages, because she was an “adopted sister” by her gay babysitter’s children. :) I still laugh about the phone call I received.

A October 5, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Just to weigh in…the thing about driving is not racism or culturalism or whatever you want to call it. Some countries have strict requirements on drivers, and some countries (and some states, like mine) will give a driver’s license to any warm body. This is a legal difference. It does not mean that Germans are “better drivers,” it means that a person holding a German driver’s license has shown that she knows how to drive and has paid real money for the privilege.

PA aupair mom October 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm

I too am guilty of “racism” under the premise used in this article.

I feel that as a host mom I should pick the candidate that I feel is most likely to be comfortable in our home and in our community.

We live in a rural community where there are few people of color. I would never want to make an au pair’s life and adjustment more difficult by subjecting her to rude comments from the truly racist people in our community (there definitely are some).

I think we all screen by race/culture to some effect. It may or may not be the “right thing” to do, but it is done regularly.

PA aupair mom October 5, 2009 at 5:26 pm

response to A:

Our German au pair had a German driver’s license and had taken the required driving courses to obtain it. She had 3 accidents in her year here, one of which was very serious.

We have to be careful to avoid generalizations like “all Germans are good drivers”. I found out the hard way that this is not the case.

Jewish Host Mom October 5, 2009 at 10:01 pm

I have been rejected by numerous aupair candidates during the matching process. We have a lot to offer an aupair in terms of accomodations and vacations but that was not enough to attract some candidates. I did not rush to conclude that it was anti-semestism. I think for many APs our culture is too different (we are orthodox, observe the sabbath and maintain a kosher home), unfamiliar, and the APs may just chose to live with a typical American family that celebrates Christmas, etc’.
Our current German aupair absolutely loves our family and was thrilled at the opportunity to learn about our lifestyle.

au pair October 6, 2009 at 9:46 am

I almost cried when I read this post. The hostmom email got me tears in my eyes. On my orientation I went to Mcdonald’s with other au pair who is brazilian. Some guy threw a piece of paper at her head for no reason and all we thought is that he did that because of her looks. People need to learn in their hearts that skin color doesn’t mean a thing. For how long are we going to live this crazy stupid hurtful situations? When will this stop?

My 2 cents October 6, 2009 at 11:14 am

Host Mom of Color,

I don’t know if you were asking me for my opinion on how you could improve your process to make it less frustrating and hurtful given the nature and tone of the questions you posed to me. My post did not offer views on what you “should” do your search or what “blends” well with your family. Certainly nothing in my post suggests that you should be limited in what candidates you screen for due to your color. If the program and its process are not meeting your needs under your criterion, then maybe you should adjust the criterion, or look at other childcare solutions. On your end, perhaps you could decide not to limit your searches to candidates from countries with colder climates and alleged stronger driving abilities, and perhaps open your family up to other candidates of different skin colors and invest in loads of driver education. I really don’t know. Everyone needs to figure out what works for them and what concessions they are willing to make.

Just like anyone else whether they be white, black, or purple, you are empowered to make choices about who cares for your children and lives in your home based on criteria such as where a candidate comes from and the stereotypes associated with that. I do not judge this choice. In fact, I believe I said it seemed entirely reasonable to me given your needs.

The point of my post was and is that if we dig deeper we will see that most of us are when screening and choosing applicants considering, if not relying, on stereotypes. As the original posting suggested, racism is not just judging by color, it’s showing favoritsim toward or not hiring someone due to their nationality, religion, or culture as well.

My question and challenge to understand is whether that is wrong in this context? This is not hiring at IBM after all. Is it justifiable because we are doing it on grounds of family needs? Does it make a difference if those needs are practical (such as driving) verses psychological (or whatever the term is for when you show preference based on your belief or experience that one candidate, due to her nationality, color, religion, whatever will work out better in your family and area) ? And if it’s justifiable for the host parents is it not justifiable for the au pairs as well?

Mom23 October 6, 2009 at 11:29 am

Dear Host Mom of Color,

I am sorry that race has figured so prominently in your au pairs decisions as to whether to match with you or not. I disagree with you about South African au pairs. I think the driving standards are quite high in South Africa. I live in an area where it snows and my South African au pair did great with driving in the snow (not a single accident or dent — most of our au pairs have put at least one dent in the car).

Back to the initial problem. I live in a city where there is a lot of diversity. I think that my next au pair letter will lay out how diverse it is. I have always said it, but I think I need to highlight it a bit more. I have had a couple of au pairs who have been uncomfortable with the racial diversity of where we live and while they have been pretty good at hiding it from my husband and I, they haven’t been quite as vigilent as hiding it from the kids. My kindergartener told me our au pair told her that one of our neighbors “looked scary,” when the only thing different about him was the color of his skin (we had a talk with our au pair about it, of course). I guess as my kids get older and more savvy about reading people, what I need to find is au pairs who embrace the experience of who we are and where we live. The thing I really don’t want is for the prejudices of my au pairs to influence my children. It is not that I want them not to understand other points of view, but just not at the ages they are now.

Host dad in NJ October 6, 2009 at 1:42 pm

To my two cents – I found your post interesting and quite accurate, in that everyone is screening Au pairs based on various criteria, many of which likely stem from Stereotypes, even little things such as “She has two older brothers, so she would be good for my boys”, etc. We all do this, it is nothing to be ashamed about. We are on our first Au Pair, with a young lady from namibia who is absolutely amazing. We avoided Au Pairs from Asia because of a more difficult language barrier, we avoided European Au Pairs because people had said to us – “so many of them are here to party and find a husband.” Now, obviously I know this is not true of all Au Pairs from a specific region, but it did influence our decision.

On a final note, I think it is interesting but not surprising that every time we tell someone about our Au Pair, and where she is from, one of the first questions asked is “Is she Black?.”

Anonymous October 6, 2009 at 2:01 pm

I would also like to add that over the years, I have heard a number of aupairs from Germany , mostly, express shock at the racism of American families in terms of what they say behind closed doors. One of my aupairs had a friend whose host parents pitched a fit because she was dating a young man who was African American. He was also an officer in the United States Navy but the host parents went bonkers. One of my aupairs told me that her friend’s host father told her that she was not allowed to bring any black people into his house. ( I guess he forgot about his cleaning service ). This is something I have not heard much of recently but I used to hear the girls complain about it alot. One aupair actually went to her agency and asked to be moved because of the racism of the host parents in their everyday conversation. The agency supported the aupair and the host parents ( I heard ) were so ticked off that they switched agencies and gave the names of all of the first agency’s family to the second agency who actively tried to recruit them. I found out about all of this when I got a call from the second agency saying that ” Mary Jones referred you “. I called Mary Jones and she told me her whole sorry story. Of course, I had also heard the aupair’s version of the story. Isn’t that terrible ?

Anonymous October 6, 2009 at 2:52 pm

We are a caucasian family and I never thought that this would be an issue for us, but it turns out I was wrong. We don’t use race or religion as a screening tool, but I guess I need to ask directly about the Au Pairs’ “bent”. Our current Au Pair came to us a HUGE racist (from Montenegro – where there are no black people, at least in her small world). Within the first week, we heard her saying how opposed she was to being around blacks, etc. We live in a diverse area intentionally, wanting to expose our kids to a global environment and breed as much acceptance and colorblindness as we can. I had to pointedly tell her that voicing her racism in front of me and my family was unacceptable. (This was in the manual, but reference earlier post – it was never read)

Ironically, now that she has been here for a while, she has a black boyfriend! I think my greatest joy with this Au Pair has been seeing her evolve to a more open-minded person. If she ever goes back to her country, she will take with her the knowledge and understanding that she can share with her family and friends.

A Mom ymous October 6, 2009 at 11:57 pm

I kinda liked it when our very religious AP had her eyes opened that the ‘aunties’ who were coming to visit at Christmas were a gay couple. I hope that this has opened eyes — and heart. Because those aunties love our kids as much as our au pair does, and that is truly cross-cultural — no matter what your biases!

MAssachusetts Mom November 28, 2009 at 6:51 am

Once I had a lovely interview on the phone with a Russian au pair. To make absolutely sure she was right for us, I had a friend who speaks Russian call her and she said that she didn’t want to come to our family because we are Jewish and we will try to convert her to Judaism (she is Russian Orthodox). Also, we apparently killed Jesus.

Needless to say it didn’t work out.

anon this time November 28, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Massachusetts Mom, doesn’t surprise me at all. There is a lot of antisemitism just in the culture there. Worse would be to get a girl to agree to come, but she would always be judging you behind your back from the prejudiced point of view and be biased about your family from the beginning. It is good some refuse Jewish families because they are Jewish, saving a tense and bad relationship for us.
Europe, and Eastern Europe, have a complicated a troubled history with antisemitism, and in some places it just goes from parent to child… I had a conversation with a russian au pair candidate (outside of matching process) and she told me she wouldn’t go to a Jewish family, but I guess to save face (she knew I was Jewish) said its because her mom had bad experience with “them” (i.e. Jews)

This is one of the reasons why I prefer not to get au pairs from there….

M in NY January 12, 2010 at 11:21 am

It just makes me sad to hear of all the racism going on out there. I hope all of you who have had problems find someone truly openminded and into the cultural experience!
I am an au pair and I had no problems filling in the boxes that said that I was ok with being in a family from another culture, religion or sexuality…and in my area I haven’t heard of any issues of that kind, which I’m very thankful for.

Just a little note: when it comes to anti-semitism, don’t rule out all European au pairs, ok? Not all of us were even in the war…which, by the way was over 60 years ago. I know that it passes down in generations in some places, but as I said: don’t rule out ALL Europeans, please.

MAmama February 25, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Although, the last post here was last month, i felt I should chime in on one more thing relating to this post. Families make generalizations all the time (the Germans are good drivers has already been mentioned). One that has not been mentioned is the way families also shun au pairs who are overweight, yet another form of prejudice. Regardless of all the comments made above, I still congratulate you on opening your homes to young women and men from around the world and congratulate the young women and men who take on our crazy lives and households! We are all making the world a smaller, more tolerant, and more open place for participating in a program like this.

Steff December 30, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Well, I stumbled upon this post, and simply couldn’t let it aside (though it’s ‘kinda’ old) but since I’m in the matching process at the moment, this is something that really does concern me at some level -currently. I think this is all mainly sad. Why a person should be ‘dismiss’ only because of of their skin color? Or their country they are from or whatever? That’s simply wrong to me. I’m from Colombia (Sometimes I’ve even wondered if we are not too ‘wanted’ since I hardly ever read posts here about girls from my Country, but that’s so not the point) the thing is that I’ve never been really exposed to Racism. Sometimes in Tv shows or movies you see how in the States (or other places…I can’t generalize, really) being black is still quite a taboo (Really a white AP can’t freely go out with a ‘black’ kiddie? That’s so wrong at so many levels). But the again, the other side, how can you -rightly- refer to a person whose skin color is black? As of right now, I can’t be sure what the right answer to that is, still. The less I would want to do is offend someone by calling them ‘Black’ or ‘African American’ or I don’t know, I really don’t know what the right term is right now. Only a few minutes ago I was surprised not to find the racism topic addressed in any of the information sites we get from the agency I’m with. In our online page we get this thingy called ‘Infosource’ with pretty much everything about the US; food, climate, different states, holidays, cars, how you guys are (‘Loud & Friendly’ says the post) but when I clicked to search for racism I didn’t get a single hit, so yeah, being such important topic, I really think it should be address more.
I think all countries have racism problems at some level, but I have never really experienced it in my country. I mean, we are not even ‘White’ people per se. There are places (mostly coasts and stuff) where people is pretty much black-black so I don’t see how we could discriminate with one another, yet…it still happens (though I never really seen it) My Dad is Italian and sometimes I’d had to roll my eyes at him when he makes some rude comment about black people (I’m not saying by that all Italians or European people are racist, but my Dad can be sometimes…Yet I know I’m not, nor my mom…nor my family in a whole. I wouldn’t have a problem spending my year with an African american family because in my opinion I don’t really see it as a problem.

All in all, I just think it’s sad some Au pairs will miss out on spending an awesome year with an awesome family only because they don’t share the same skin color or same cultural background? Isn’t that just the whole point of the Aupair program? Not just for HFs, but for APs too? It’s just sad.

Calif Mom December 31, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Racism can backfire in so many ways! We invited a rematch au pair to our home who was very dark skinned (and we are pasty white, my girls are blonde). She came to us from a home of conservative, African American professionals who treated her with little trust and completely isolated her. That she found generosity and an ideal host family in a family that looked like we did was a huge eye opening experience for her! She had not wanted to match with a caucasian, blond family, and thought she would have a better experience with an African American family.

I had to learn to ignore my own ‘white liberal guilt’ of going to restaurants and grocery stores with a childcare provider from a different race. Our girls benefited from unconditional love from someone who looked completely different from them on the outside. We still miss her…we all grew so much from our experience together.

So please, au pairs, don’t think we are all racist, or that if you are dark-skinned you will not find a family to host you (I will admit to being loud and friendly, though!) :-)

FGS May 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

Our {caucasian} family just completed a search where we had narrowed it down to two girls from South Africa: one black and one white. Both girls were head-to-head on everything that was important to us, and let me tell you we were in a quandary on what to do. It was a tough decision because both were SO excellent (and trust me, they are excellent). The black girl had actually created a video while the other one had not plus the black girl was 22 while the white girl was 19. Based on those two things, we selected the black girl. We felt the older girl would do better, and because she did the video, we felt this was a girl that was motivated to go the extra mile!!!! She was smart because we chose her (plus we loved her personality from the video). So, our decision did not play in race at all. She is expected to be here mid July, and we just can’t wait. We are getting her room ready, and we are thrilled to have her. We are thankful to have this opportunity.

Nina August 23, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I just ran across this site as we are about to choose our 8th au pair. We are still always concerned, as a family of African decent living in America, choosing an au pair who we think is expecting the ‘typical’ american family. We always send photos out on first contact so they know right away what our family looks like. We’ve had great experiences with girls who were white, african and bi-racial – all from France.

We’re venturing into the world of Brazilian aupairs (probably because of some stereotype we’ve heard about Brazilian aupairs) and I am once again terrified that non of the aupairs from Brazil will want to live with a black family. I know that racism is a HUGE deal in Brazil. That people with darker skin in Brazil are usually those that are poor and service people of lighter skin. I have not failed to notice that there are very few aupairs from Brazil who are black.

Anna August 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Nina, my husband is Brazilian (dark skinned; not black but very dark)
Do not fear. Brazilians are very open minded, truly. We’ve had many Brazilian au pairs and I loved most of them. We are Orthodox Jews, and we had some au pairs say no to us because they wanted a more “typical” american family. Brazilian au pairs that we had and that I spoke to during matching process were less biased than most. Some who said no were because of our kosher diet, which is more understandable than bias.

Brazil is a very ethnically mixed society. Most Brazilians have some black or native american or other nonwhite ancestry.

Gianna August 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm

It sounds like you have really had nice experiences in the past so why not check out aupairs from the countries with which you have had such good luck in the past and add a few new candidates into the mix ? I am wondering what the stereotypes are about Brazilians that you refer to. They must be positive stereotypes or you wouldn’t be exploring that area of the world. If you are just feeling adventurous, have you thought about Germany ? It is my experience that Germans speak excellent English and are terrific drivers. It has been my observation, too, that Germans are usually pretty open minded. But why are you switching off from France ? It seems like you have had good luck with a diverse group of French women .

Au Pair from Germany September 11, 2011 at 4:04 pm

For a few weeks now I’m waiting for a HF to contact me but still no answer!!! All of my friends(white friends) have found a HF or are already in america. That makes me wonder, if my chances a so bad just because I am black??
I have more childcare experiences than the other girls but somehow I still can’t find a family.
This really makes me very sad. It just upsets me that there’re still so many racist out there!!!

Gianna September 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm

I cannot say if your disappointing experience is due to racism but I am very sorry to hear this sorry. It must be painful. I have an idea. I do not know what agency you are with but you might be most successful with an agency that ” assigns ” an aupair to a family. The placement counselors are probably very sensitive to this issue and will take care not to waste your time with nasty people. They will direct your profile to open minded families. If you are with an agency that always families to pick from the whole data base, you can go register with other agencies in addition. This might give you the extra advantage that you need to overcome a very unfair situation.

HRHM September 12, 2011 at 9:18 am

I will say, that although I don’t care one way or the other, I know many families (white) who would be uncomfortable having a black Au Pair, not because they are racist, but because they think white people with black “help” look empirialist. So it’s actually a bit of fear that if they hire a black Au Pair (or house cleaner, or cook, etc) that they will LOOK racist to others. And unfortunately, there are way more white families that have APs than there are black families that use APs.

Return Aupair September 11, 2011 at 4:06 pm

This is a sad Story. But not every Aupair seems like that. During my Aupair Year (iam German) i had made firends from all over the world. My Aupair friends came from Sweden,Georgia (the Country) from Poland, from South Africa (black and whites wo never spend time together), from Thailand, from Brazil, from France and Colombia and i just loved the cultural exchange. The nicest thing was on Chistmans eve we had celebrate a german,polish and swedish christmas.
I also had some frience from Mexico who i meet in my esl course. And i also had a american friend who was black. I never had a problem with that. I also went during my first month with some aupair friends to a big rap festival (not on on the streets, you had to pay even entry) who where also many blacks. It was fun, even i did not realy unterstand what they where talking about.

I will go next year to be aupair and when the agancy asked me about preference, i said i do not have one. I will find the right family it doesent matter if they are black or white. Even if they have a different relgious i would not mind if the aupair is still free to be different.

But i also will say, its better an aupair says to you right away, that you cant match. It would be hard for all if she would arrive and want to go in a rematch.

About the driving skills of Aupairs. Its true in Germany we have to pay now about 1800$ to get a license and you get a lot of instructions from a profesional trainer and you need to past a hard test. But it doesent meen they are all good. I have friends who have had many accident in a couple of years (even its nothing happend). Iam having my drivers licens 6 years and i never had a speeding ticket, or had an accident in my life. I think its the same in every other country. There are good drivers and some who are not.

Tee October 16, 2011 at 3:23 am

This story just makes me feel terrible as I am soon going to be an Au pair. I would be scared to experience some racial related encounters as I don’t distinguish people from each other because of their race I treat everyone as equal. I’m Black from South Africa a country that was under apartheid or racial segregation for more than 30years and only have a democracy of 17years. So I know that racism only leads to violence and terror and I would not like to be part of any racial battle. May my host family accept diversity and the idea of cultural exchange….

Carlos October 16, 2011 at 4:39 am

When CC au pair sold me the plan to become an au pair all of the images in the program where from white people…

I think the au pair starts thinking she’s gonna get a white family because of that… that’s what you think you signed for when you start your papers and everything…

There are a lot of different cultures in the United States… I think agencies need to be more specific about that so au pairs won’t go mislead thinking that everyone in the United States is white.

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