Babysitting while Black: Woman calls cops on Black man babysitting white kids
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 10/10/2018, 11:47 a.m.
This makes you wonder what some people are going to do if Georgia does elect a Black governor next month. A white woman called the police when she saw a Black man caring for two white children in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta, reports the New York Times. Corey Lewis saw the woman as he crossed a Wal-Mart parking lot with the two kids he was babysitting to his car. She was obviously watching him. Lewis knew something was off about the way she was watching, so he turned on his phone and began live streaming on Facebook. He said the woman had been stalking him since he didn’t allow her to talk to the kids when she approached them. The 27-year-old went live as the woman followed them out of the parking lot to a gas station and then to his home. At his home, a Cobb Country police officer questioned him, asking him why he had two young white kids with him. “I didn’t know what was going on, what she wanted to do,” Lewis told the Times on Tuesday, believing that the woman had called the police because he was a Black man walking around with two white children. “I felt like my character was being criminalized.” Sgt. Wayne Delk confirmed the incident, saying that an officer had responded to a call from a woman on Sunday afternoon. The police did not say whether they knew her identity. For Lewis, the episode was particularly troubling because it happened while he was working. Lewis owns his own business, Inspired by Lewis, in which he takes care of children five days a week as part of the youth mentoring program he created three years ago. His clientele is mainly white, he said, but up until Sunday, it had never occurred to him that that would give someone a reason to call the police on him. He said he had spent that afternoon watching 6-year-old Nicholas and 10-year-old Addison while their parents were out. After taking them to an indoor play area, he took them to Wal-Mart to eat at the Subway, he said. After leaving the store, he and the children were hanging out by his car when the woman pulled up and asked if the children were all right. Confused, Lewis replied, “Why wouldn’t they be O.K.?” She shrugged before driving off, he said, only to return to ask to speak to Addison. Lewis said he told her no, and she insisted on getting his license plate number before driving away, only to stop within sight. Lewis said he drove to a nearby gas station, where she followed him. Instead of taking the children home, he drove them to his house, where he knew people would be outside. Lewis continued to record as a police car pulled up, and the officer asked him what was going on. “I’m being followed and harassed,” he says, to which the officer replied, “I’ve heard.” The confrontation ended without issue, with the officer seemingly convinced that the children — who offered similar explanations for what occurred — were fine, but he asked if he could check in with their parents. “It just knocked us out of our chair,” David Parker, their father, told the Times. “We felt horrible for Corey.” Parker and his wife, Dana Mango, were at dinner when they received the call, and his wife had to be convinced that it was not a prank, he said. Lewis is a family friend and well known in the community for working with children, Parker said, describing him as an “All-American guy.” Parker said that he wanted to give the woman the benefit of doubt, but that his children were having a good time with Lewis, and they were not in any apparent danger. Lewis was also wearing his signature shirt — a bright green T-shirt bearing his company’s logo. “I don’t think you have to watch too many ‘Law & Order’ episodes to realize kidnappers don’t usually wear fluorescent green shirts,” he said, adding that he felt Lewis had handled the situation well. Parker said he had a proud moment when, during an interview with a reporter, his daughter was asked if she had anything she wanted to say to the woman. “She said that, ‘I would just ask her to next time, try to see us as three people rather than three skin colors because we might’ve been Mr. Lewis’s adopted children,’” he recalled.
On Tuesday, Lewis was back working with children, saying he wasn’t going to let the episode keep him from doing his job. “You see these things, but they’re like from a distance,” he said. “But then for it to actually happen to you, it’s unbelievable.”