Everyone Stupidly Assumes Child Beggar Is ‘Stolen’ Because Of The Color Of Her Skin
The photo of a little blonde girl begging for coins at an intersection in Jalisco, Mexico has caused quite a stir. Images of children begging should cause some strife – the whole idea of a child begging for coins in the street is awful. But the fact that this little blonde girl stood out to officials enough to spark a hunt for the child and an assumption that she was “stolen” is making it pretty obvious that the government only rushed in to help because of the color of her skin.
The photo came to light last week, when a Facebook user posted a photo of the girl standing next to a car, hand out-stretched, clearly begging for money. From the Daily Mail:
He suspected she might have been kidnapped as ‘her parents are brown,’ and he immediately contacted a welfare agency and state prosecutors.
‘Let’s spread this photo around,’ the unidentified user wrote.
The photo was shared by tens of thousands with some praising the photographer and other complaining the post was racist.
‘The concern was the suspicion the girl had been stolen,’ said Lino Gonzalez spokesman for prosecutors in Jalisco state, where Guadalajara is the capital. ‘We had to respond because there was suspicion a crime had been committed.’
Mexican officials found the girl, put her in a Guadalajara orphanage, and detained her mother for two days until she was able to hand over a birth certificate. The mother was released, but DNA results are pending and authorities are considering charging the mother with child exploitation.
Considering that there are thousands of kids begging on the streets of Mexico that rarely get a sideways glance from tourists, let alone help from the government – the assumption that everyone rushed to her aid due to the color of her skin really isn’t that far of a stretch.
‘We need to see a white girl to worry about kidnapping, trafficking of children and child exploitation,’ wrote human rights activist Yali Noriega. ‘I’ve never seen photos of Indian children or simply dark-skinned kids circulating on the Internet with people asking others to help them.’
Of course there should be concern for all children who are found begging on the streets. The fact that authorities reached out to help this girl isn’t the problem. It’s that there never would have been a stir to begin with if she didn’t look the way she did – with a high blonde ponytail, fair skin, and green eyes. And that is a really sad commentary on the state of the world and our perceptions of race.