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.
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.