Sage Steele’s Blog: No, I’m Not the Nanny

05/08/2015 at 04:00 PM ET

Please give a warm welcome to one-time guest blogger, Sage Steele!

In addition to hosting NBA Countdown on ESPN and ABC, the sportscaster is also the face of Mixed Chicks, a line of products that tailor to curly hair.

Steele, 43, and her husband, stay-at-home dad Jonathan Bailey, are the proud parents of daughters Evan, 9, and Quinn, 13, and son Nicholas, 11.

You can find the mom of three on Facebook and Twitter @sagesteele.

Sage Steele blog
Courtesy Sage Steele

I’m pretty sure I’m the luckiest girl in the world. Healthy, happily married, mother of three crazy awesome kids, and blessed enough to have achieved my very specific childhood dream of being a broadcaster for “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” ESPN!

But as you may have guessed, being a mom is the most important thing to me in the world. Hands down, my proudest accomplishment.

My kids are now ages 13, 11 and 9 — two vibrant, strong-willed girls with my sweet, snake-loving boy stuck in the middle. Yes, someday I’m convinced he will make a fabulous husband.

Sage Steele blog
Courtesy Sage Steele

Over the last 13 years of mommyhood, I have learned so many priceless lessons, but at the top of that list is my ability to handle uncomfortable situations with grace.

Unfortunately, the most common uncomfortable situation involves race. As a proud product of a biracial marriage myself (my mother is Irish/Italian and my father is African-American), I have always felt the stares — from people of both races.

But I now know that one tends to feel the stares a bit more when YOU’RE the parent trying to protect your children from our big, ugly world.

I’ll never forget my first outing after giving birth to baby #1 … Nervous, yet overwhelmingly proud, is the best way to describe how I felt carrying her on my chest!

Sage Steele blog
Courtesy Sage Steele

But when two middle-aged women approached me and asked if I was the NANNY, it turned that special outing into an unforgettable moment.

Now, full disclosure, all three of my children have VERY light complexions. Along with being half white myself, my husband is 100 percent Caucasian, so if you do the math, they’re only “a quarter dark” as I like to joke. They also have bone-straight hair that refuses to hold a curl — crazy considering my naturally curly hair is … CURLY! (By the way, for all of my curly-haired friends out there, trust me when I say Mixed Chicks products have been life-changing!)

However, for someone to blatantly stereotype me — on so many different levels — just because my kids don’t look like me, and then choose to verbalize it, is proof that prejudice and stereotypes will always remain.

The words spoken by those women devastated me on that June day in 2002, and rendered me speechless and teary-eyed.

Sage Steele blog
Courtesy Sage Steele

But in the dozen or so times that I have been asked that question since, my go-to response is quite simple: “Am I the NANNY? Nope. I actually carried her for 9 months and pushed her out myself!”

You should see the looks on their faces after that!

So, as much as my natural instinct is to lash out with some choice words, I have found that I tend to feel much better afterwards by subtly, gracefully putting clueless people in their place, while hopefully setting a good example for my children.

Sage Steele blog
Courtesy Sage Steele

— Sage Steele

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Showing 44 comments

jlduke55 on

This article is short and to the point, I was expecting more! I hate that she’s had to deal with people asking such a ridiculous and personal question, but hopefully people will realize how hurtful it is and stop and think before they ask this again! She has a gorgeous family:)

Sara on

I’m not sure what the big deal is? I’m of Portuguese decent and I’m fairly dark and my husband is of Scottish decent and he’s really pale and this has happened to me numerous times with my oldest and youngest (my middle guy funnily enough is tan, but actually looks the most like his father! Same mouth/nose/cleft chin and dimpled cheek!) I usually just laugh it off and explain how different their father looks then myself, not sure why this bothers her? I feel like I’m missing something?

kaye on

Can’t believe there are still ignorant people like that around!! Skin colour notwithstanding, who goes up to someone and asks them if they are a nanny? Seriously… Beautiful family.

Angel on

Sage, you are a beautiful woman with lovely children. It is a shame things are still like they were back in the old days. Only Gods intervention will delliver people. God bless and have a wonderful Mothers’ Day.

blessedwithboys on

great blog but way too short! more please?

fromcampfire on

@Sage Yes, you’re missing something. I am saying that in a very kind way.
What you’re missing is how Americans in the USA view race and how that view gives people with light skin advantages over people with dark skin. It’s called ‘privilege’. This story is important because it shows how this woman is having a different and negative experience of the world based on her skin color. If the roles were reversed and it was a woman with light skin holding a baby with brown skin, no one would dare to ask if she was the nanny. It wouldn’t be done because it is a rude question to ask. What is rude, would then become offensive and hurtful if the woman holding the child is indeed the child’s mother.

In this situation because the woman is brown, the people the asking the question don’t even think that she could indeed be a mother. It used to happen to me all the time. I am very brown, like Mel B, from the Spice girls, I actually look a lot like her. And my mother and grandmother are very light, we are from the Caribbean. Americans are always so obviously shocked that we’re related. It’s so absurd. But it happens everyday and it is rude.

fromcampfire on

oh, that should say @ Sara :/ apologies

martina on

I am white, with light skin and straight light brown hair. My youngest looks nothing like me – he is super blond & curly. People assume I am his babysitter all the time. Never a nanny though…. It’s easy for me to laugh it off. But I totally understand why a racially mixed mom would be much more sensitive to the issue. She is immediately assumed to be hired help because she has darker skin then her children. Yikes. Wish our society would grow up. Time to stop looking at people through the racial prism.

Chelsea on

Love this! Thank you for sharing your beautiful post and family!!

Heather I. on

I love Sage’s attitude toward life. Sage, you inspire many, and thank you for the great NBA analyst work! Looking forward to hearing more about Sage Steele in future “episodes” of a blog. Would love to hear your husband’s take on what appears to be a very full life.

fitgirldiaries on

I am a nanny to two wonderful baby girls who are very fair, blue eyes and super blonde. I am half white and half hispanic, but with dark hair, eyes and very tan in the summer. Throughout my years with them I have been pleasantly surprised how overwhelmingly often people assume I am their mother. It’s sad this is Sage’s experience, but I am also happy that stereotypes seem to be changing in my experience. And how fortunate that people seem to accept that mothers and children don’t need to look like each other. I’m sure my fair skinned mother got lots of looks with three dark girls while I was growing up, but she never made an issue out of it and thus we never knew we were any different.

Charlie on

@fromcampfire Actually, it goes both ways. A few months ago, a Caucasian man who lives near me was almost arrested at a Walmart because he was there with his biracial children and a woman called the police when she saw him putting them into his vehicle, assuming he was kidnapping them. I think the issue is that people are so resistant to acknowledging the existence of interracial couples and biracial people.

lovely123 on

“Clueless people in their place”, she is a little hateful. I have experienced the same thing with my four kids. They are dark skin with dark hair. My husband gene pool conquered all physical traits of our children. I was asked if I was the nanny MANY times. I never got mad, just laughed. It was due to that being at the park during the day in L.A., there are more nannies with kids than the actual parents. As long as the kids are healthy is the most important thing. Who cares that people try to make small talk.

Me on

I enjoyed your blog. I have to say that I have seen you in public before and may have stared. But because you are extremely beautiful and for no other reason. You are a vibrant gorgeous woman that people can’t help but notice.

guest on

fromcampfire is right on with her comment! As for the commentator pointing out a white man. In this instance we are only talking about MOTHERS. A White mother with a biracial child would never get questioned nearly as much as a Black mother with a seemingly “white” child. Although I recognize Steele children look mixed to me. They do not look “caucasion” but then again I myself am Biracial and I can tell the difference. The only idiots who come up to us, have been white women. I have never had a white man make a comment, nor anybody of another race. White women really need to stop with all there prejudices!

Jamie Berry on

Good stuff and I agree about many things here, and ditto about Mixed Chicks products for curly hair folks. That stuff works! (I get it at a Target). Keep keepin on Sage Steele.

guest on

give me a break if you want to see RACISM look in the mirror honey- Why is it that you and YOUR TYPE–mixed chicks—have to remind us every single frigging day that YOUR NOT WHITE–give it a rest–the only ones who are racist are the ones that keep playing the race card to get ahead—I will NEVER buy your products as you have used the RACE CARD to promote them–go suck a .lemon—

stratus595 on

While I understand the frustration she has over the repetitive and personal questions, sometimes we need to relax and also understand that simply because people pose a question of maternal or paternal roots does not necessarily stereotype them as being racist, ignorant, etc. With the dynamics of family changing so rapidly from race and gender, it can’t be surprising for some to post a simply question of relation between family members. I’m not referring to the nanny remark but the concept of asking questions in general. People may see the cosmetic differences in your family and ask if you are a blended adoptive family perhaps maybe because they are considering adoption as well. This is just an example that we need to not be so quick to scoff at people’s curiosity because you never truly know the intention of the person behind the question and you may be that one person that helps them learn something new or understand a matter on a deeper level.

Dee on

**Sigh,

I know all too well this scenario. I am black, my child is bircial (his father is just a plain white guy…lol 🙂
When he was born he was the whitest child with the most amazing straight fine hair and he looked nothing like me. Whenever we went out in public people were never afraid to ask if I was babysitting. Or try to guess if he was Spanish or some other race.

I’ve even been offered nanny positions and been told how well I cared for my charge. And just like this lady enough became too much and I simply would say, “As a matter of fact I am not the nanny. He is my child. Black women have the awesomeness to be able to birth children who look nothing like them but still 100% theirs….read a book!”

I didn’t say it snarky but it was just getting ridiculous.

The struggle is real**

Chi on

Not trying to downplay her experience but I also have biracial children. My son’s hair is also bone straight, daughter has wavy hair and they are both relatively fair. I am darker than Sage and not once has anyone asked me if I am the nanny.

CastilianGirl on

Her children look biracial and only a few shades lighter than she is so what is she going on about?

Heather on

I am white, husband black and I have often been asked if my biological children are adopted. It doesn’t really bother me – I knew my children would most likely not look like me. Anyway, this woman is gorgeous – her whole family is beautiful and she has my dream job from when I was younger!!! Jealous but happy for her 🙂

Mixedchick2 on

Hi, I too come from a mixed background my mother’s father is Chinese and my dad is Black. When I was little, my grandfather use to take me and my little brother (which was 3 at the time) to the park . My brother must of walked off and my grandfather lost sight of him . The cops were called and they found my brother , but they wouldn’t release the 2 little brown children to my grandfather because they did believe him or us when we told them that was our “grandpa” . My mother had to come to the park and tell the cops that my grandpa was her father and these are his biological grandchildren . So I completely understand this blog.

Easyup on

You are all one very good looking family….attractive and healthy. Continued blessings.

lovely123 on

This mother is full of a lot of bitterness. She should be thankful that she has healthy kids. I dealt with the same kids when they were younger. At the park I would get the question, “How long have you been watching…”. I just laughed since all my kids are dark from head to toe. Get over it, it is like a woman walking into a maternity store and getting p***ed that they are asked when they are due. It is a question, get over yourself.

msliftbig on

What a class act! I would probably not be so nice.

Kif on

I am white, my husband is black and we have 2 very beautiful children (adults now!) who are both darker than me and lighter than him. My daughter has gray/green eyes. The stupidest thing we ever heard was when we took her for her first check up. The NURSE said “someone in Dad’s family must have light eyes or this would never have happened!” Listen honey, I’m glad you’re up on your genetics, but could you imagine if my husband had any doubts?! People should just hold their tongues, comment about the beautiful children and leave it at that. If you get to know these families you will find out sooner or later whatever their “situation” is. If you don’t get to know them, you won’t have embarrassed yourself or made anyone uncomfortable.

Yep on

One comment about her past experience and people are telling her to get over it and stop being bitter, lol. She’s allowed to retell the story once without those comments in return, chill out. To top it off, it hasn’t just happened once to her and the response she gave was civil. How about comments from these same people for the ones asking her if she’s a nanny? No problems with that?

beautyinasnap123 on

Ok I knew I wasnt the only person in the whole world to have that same experience and still everyday now 2 years after having my son still the stares. The worst part is in a world where there are so many mixed people. I am puerto rican and my husband is german blue eyed and our son is white as white can be and blue eyed has my ear nose and almond shaped eyes. I live in south florida and I get the stares across the board hispanic white or black and the day I was approached same response I said nope I am not the nanny I have the scare to prove it wanna see. I am so thankful to know I am not the only person to have gone through this but saddened that this is still an issue in 2015!

meghan on

@Lovely, she doesn’t sound bitter at all. You may not want to hear what she has to say, but that doesn’t give you the right to shut her down and dismiss her as something she is clearly not.

meghan on

@Guest, only white racists use the phrase “Race Card”. Mostly as a way to shut down the reality they want to ignore. Talk about sucking a lemon. Could you be more bitter?

Twig on

I’m white, by husband is black. Our children are darker than me, and lighter than him. Our daughter has gray/green eyes. The dumbest thing we heard was the NURSE at her first check up saying that someone in my husband’s family must have had light colored eyes, or my daughter would not have them. I’m glad she was up on her genetics, but really, if my husband had any doubts this could have been disastrous!

kate on

I guess I don’t understand where the “racism” and “stereotype” Steel experienced comes in – because a stranger didn’t think Steele’s child looked enough like Steele to assume it was Steele’s own? I don’t understand how that’s racist; ignorant of the fascinating potential of genetics, perhaps, but not malicious or cruel.
I actually read the article twice becaues I was confident I’d missed the exchange that left her “in tears;” surely someone would’ve had to make a demeaning comment about her skin color, which would’ve been unthinkably inappropriate and nonsensical. But, no, she was asked if she was nannying for the baby she was holding…which is a question I’ve been asked while nannying, and it didn’t leave me in tears screaming about racial discrimination.

Jessica on

I am black and my ex husband is European and I was always asked if I were the nanny when I was at the park with my son. One person came up to me while I was playing with my son and asked how much do you charge and would I be willing to take on another child.

rose on

Sara, just because it’s no big deal to you, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be a big deal to her. She doesn’t need you to validate her feelings. My children are biracial and I remember a cgild telling my son that his father couldn’t be his father because he was white.
I remember my husband told me that while out alone with our son, a nice random old lady came up to him and told him, “my son adopted a black baby too”.
There was nothing malicious in either statement, but no one wants to hear that.
Please tell them how they should feel about that.

Sara on

@fromcampfire I think maybe its just different for me as I’m from Canada. Honestly whenever people ask if I’m the babysitter it really does make me chuckle and I explain about their dads skin tone. As for the reverse, my hubs has been asked if my middle child is his as well. Like I said my little guy is tan and people notice that first, not that he actually looks the most like his dad facially. To be clear I’m darker then her kids and my husband is about as pale as you can be, he’s a redhead.
@rose not sure why you are so angry about my opinion. I’m not angry that she feels that way and has expressed it, and I think its a good thing thing she expressed it in this article too. I just can’t relate and that’s all my comment was about. Sounds like you got your feelings hurt and that sucks that some random people said something hurtful to you. I always take these types of articles as a way to open communication, my post was about how I feel when it happens to me. Is my opinion invalid because it doesn’t reflect yours or hers?

Emily on

Great blog post! This one post is far better than most of the “celebrity” bloggers. Bring Sage back for more!

Wow on

Oh please, she looks like their mom, not the nanny. And I love the little plug for her hair products. Give me a break.

Anonymous on

Miscegenation

Charlie on

@fromcampfire Your response to me makes no sense. Please work on your reading comprehension, grammar and punctuation.

cds on

Sage is very pretty and I understand exactly what she is saying. Unfortunately, depending on where you live, you will get stares and stupid comments. Darkness seems to represent to some people as danger where as light or white represents good or the best. This has been set up a long time ago — folks read a history book and you’ll see the reasons for the attitudes that still pervade in the 21st century.

JessieJames on

Sage has one thing and one thing only to thank for her position at ESPN. Her race. She is terrible as a host. Difficult to understand. If she were white, she wouldn’t be any where near that NBA host desk on ESPN. Absolutely awful. The second coming to Robin Roberts who is equally horrible and equally dependent upon her race for her job.

northernnannyagency on

Nice Article, We know that every mother care for her child more securely, but most of the time when some works around or no one can care of a little one, then we have to need a nanny who completely understand all child needs.

Anonymous on

So sad, cause I see animals on national geographic that can find an animal that looks exactly like themselves to reproduce with. I never seen a lion have a baby with an elephant, but a negro will say “u can’t help who u fall in love with.”