CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Aug. 31, 2009: A Caribbean American migrant and former babysitter has turned the spotlight on the many Caribbean `nannies` across the U.S. who are helping to raise the children of many Caucasian Americans.
Bianca Jacobs, aka Nandi, recently released `The True Nanny Diaries,` which tells the story of black women babysitters in New York City. Jacobs or Nandi, as she prefers to be called, told CWNN she was inspired to write the novel, because of `the complexity and diversity of the experiences of the women I met … since when other African-Americans, Caribbean immigrants, other people of color see these women, we see nothing beyond those black hands on the stroller handles!`
The London-born New Yorker, whose parents were born in Trinidad and Tobago, said she too had that perception until she too `found myself pushing a stroller.`
`Actually, I was embarrassed,` said Nandi of the experience. `Not because the work wasn`t honest, but I figured I was `better` than this. But it is what I had to do.`
Reflecting on her experiences, she reminisced that, `The first family I worked for was very nurturing, but I was struck by how guilty my boss felt that she had a black nanny caring for her little blond son.
`She told me once she felt that she was perpetuating slavery, I had to tell her to get over it. I really needed the money.`
The novel revolves around Valdi West, who left her native Trinidad & Tobago to study at Columbia University on a scholarship, but ends up babysitting to survive. Twenty years later, Valdi refuses to consider her derailed life. Instead, she focuses her razor sharp intuition and cutting wit on her babysitting clique. She befriends old lady Madam Lucian, who is supplementing her meager babysitting wages, and financing a house-building project, by selling homemade bread from her Brooklyn apartment.
Valdi is also preoccupied with flighty Monica, who`s not above stirring a few `perks` into her Green Card marriage. Last but not least, Valdi is disturbed by Ava, her one time confidant, who outgrows her babysitting friends as graduation, a government job, and legal American status, seem all within her grasp.
Set further and further adrift from her dream of becoming an award-winning writer, Valdi`s life becomes hopelessly entangled in the unending demands of her latest employers, a dysfunctional Manhattan couple with a five-year-old son. Valdi`s chance encounter with her estranged, wildly successful, twin sister, while minding the boy, pushes her to the brink.
She has two choices: sink or swim.
Nandi notes that The True Nanny Diaries is not only about the workplace challenges but about the hopes, dreams and aspirations that domestic workers share. `These are not weak women oppressed by the proverbial big, bad wolf. These are real women, with imperfections of their own, finding their way as immigrants, and as friends.` Like her gritty protagonist, fate placed her temporarily in the role of a domestic worker. It is from her vantage point at ground zero of this `invisible world` that `The True Nanny Diaries` evolved.
`The True Nanny Diaries, to me is not about the poor, victim immigrants babysitters working for `the big, bad wolf.` It is about real women with challenges, ambition and even psychological problems on an immigrant`s journey in a place called New York City. These women I met were the most fascinating group of people, I have met to date,` added the author.