2010, Paris Metro. Passenger, Rips, Tara

That Time I Was A Meme

“No one is born racist”

“Is this you?”
“Hey, I think this is you.”
“OMG, I think you are a meme!!!”

Over the past week, I’ve received dozens of pings from friends sending me links to a photo with the tagline “No one is born racist” and asking if it’s me. It is, and I have to say that in all the things I ever wished for in life, becoming a meme seen by more than a million people was not one of them. That being said, if it helps to spread a positive message then I’m all for it. Except of course when someone said I have a duck-face (thanks to the person who defended me and said I was probably in mid-sentence).

The comments across platforms are mixed; some love the photo and some think that I’m a horrible mother, hateful racist, etc. (If you are interested, I gave a talk at Creative Mornings Los Angeles about this experience including an analysis of the comments). What I like about this photo is that the moment captured is between my son and our fellow passenger on the Paris Metro, and I’m just in the background.

I am not sure who copied the photo from my husband’s Flickr account and re-posted it with the tagline, “No one is born racist,” but for the curious, here is the metadata and narrative of the original work:

The photo was taken by my husband, Sean Bonner with an iPhone. It’s August of 2010, we are on Paris Metro but I don’t recall where we are going. Our son, Rips, who was around 5 months at the time, is sitting on my lap. The stranger’s finger he is holding onto is Parisian, a father with children if I recall correctly. The two of us chatted a bit, he then held out his finger to Rips who clamped on and wouldn’t let go. The man had a great smile that Rips delighted in and he didn’t seem to mind entertaining my baby so I went back to figuring out when we had to depart the train. I’m in mid-duck-face because our stop was coming up and I was telling Sean that we had to gather all of our things and convince Rips to let go of his new friend’s finger.

UPDATE
After almost a decade of this meme being shared, I decided to find our Parisian friend. In the fall of 2019, I did (thanks, Internet) and we traveled to Paris to meet him. At some point, I’ll write about it. For now, here you go.

2019, Paris, Hassani, Rips, Tara
2019, Paris Cafe. Friend, Rips, Tara

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