After two moms in West Town Chicago received a racist letter calling their Black nanny a ?n****r? and a ?mammy,? they responded by organizing a diversity play date for the entire community.
An unidentified person put the unstamped letter in Heather DeJonker’s mailbox on October 16, according to DNA Info. After receiving the letter, DeJonker and Maria Ippolito took it to the police. Ferrai Pickett is a nanny who works for both women.
“It was very upsetting to all of us, and while we were deeply hurt, we also knew that silence was not an option. We had to take action,” DeJonker and Ippolito wrote on the Facebook page for the event. “We were all absolutely sickened by this, but luckily most of the community has rallied around us and our babysitter. As a group, we decided that we need to do more.?
Pickett holds a degree in early childhood education from Moraine Valley Community College and plans to teach preschool or kindergarten. When Pickett watches DeJonker?s and Ippolito?s children, she sometimes brings her 9-year-old nephew and 6-year-old niece. The five children will often hold hands when they walk down the street.
“We felt so lucky that our children could spend so much time together, especially in the summer when everyone is off from school. They call themselves the ?Kids Club? and the love they have for each other is pretty remarkable,” Ippolito told DNA Info.
In the racist letter, its author said it?s “amusing” that the moms are “trying to rebel against the greatest leader this country has ever seen” by hiring Pickett.
“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.
Pickett has not seen the letter but she did say 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 told DNA Info. “So why be angry and lash out when this person isn?t the first, last or only racist.”
?[I] had to take a deep breath and a step back,? she added. Pickett said she will use this as an opportunity “to teach kids” and “show them how to handle adversity correctly. These precious faces are our future. They are my babies, and I will show them how strong I am. I will show them how to unify and celebrate each other?s differences,” Pickett wrote.
The “Stand Up to Hate” play date is open to anyone with or without children and will take place Thursday October 26 in Talcott School’s playground at 1840 W. Ohio St.