It’s a New Year and new political leadership in our country. With the inauguration of President Biden, I feel a huge weight has been lifted. The toll of four long years of chaos, lies, racism, and meanness, capped by a failed insurrection from the one-term presidency of Donald Trump has been heavy. I became a first-time mom to a baby boy during the last months of the Trump administration. The relief that I feel because my son will start his formative years with a compassionate, caring, and family-oriented president and see a woman of color serve as vice president is perhaps the best parenting gift I have been given.
The other best parenting gift — my baby started sleeping through the night when he was five months old. When I tell people this, they respond in disbelief as if I just levitated in front of them.
Though it may seem like getting a baby to sleep through the night is the equivalent to performing magic, legions of new moms attribute our success to one lady: a bubbly, platinum coiffed, Target and yoga pants-enthusiast, neonatal nurse named Cara with a social media empire of more than a million followers under the paronomasia Taking Cara Babies. The core of her business is to sell tired parents access to her digital classes with strategies to get babies to sleep through the night. She also advises on topics beyond sleep to guide and support new parents.
My husband and I had no clue about how to get a baby on a regular sleep schedule. Many of my new mom friends said Cara’s methods work. So we bought the courses. And it worked. Like really well. Getting a new baby to sleep through the night does feel like performing magic.
Outside of the paid coursework, Cara’s Instagram is carefully curated. Every post is on-brand — full of happy, cherubic babies and replete with multicultural families of color. Family joy is a key theme. Everything is positive and nonjudgmental, and she concludes most videos with reassuring messages of family harmony and unity, reminding you that you are the perfect parents for your baby and no one can care for your baby as well as you can.
Cara had earned deified status in our household.
Then last week my girlfriend, who also has a new baby, texted me and asked, “Do you know who Taking Cara Babies is?”
Well, of course I do! I replied she’s the reason my baby sleeps through the night and why I’m really nailing parenthood.
She replied, “Well this is going to be awkward … ” The next text was a screenshot of FEC filings listing Cara as a frequent donor to the Trump campaign — 36 donations totaling nearly $2,000.
Twitter and social media were abuzz over this revelation featuring MAGA-hating versus MAGA-loving online back-and-forths about “cancel culture” versus “it’s nobody’s business about who people support politically” righteousness. I avoid such futile digital discussions as a rule. I don’t have Twitter, and I deleted Facebook years ago. I use Instagram to follow famous chefs, cats, and Cara.
This gave me serious misgivings. I asked myself: How could Cara create such a supportive environment for some new moms and families but also indifferently support a barbaric and inhumane presidential administration that was hostile to so many other families?
Cara doesn’t hawk yoga pants or diet advice. Cara sells idealized, multicultural, inclusive, and joyful family ideals.
The Trump administration will go down as one of the most anti-family, barbaric, and inhumane presidential administrations in American history. A pillar of the Trump administration was to openly, cruelly, and antagonistically separate mothers from their children at our Southern Border. They tear-gassed many refugees, including children, and then put kids in cages.
The Trump administration intentionally turned Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) into a tool of fear and intimidation, frequently storming into immigrant communities to rip families apart and deport as many people as possible.
Those are hallmark policies and Trump was proud of the chilling effect. In thinking about Cara and her apparent values, it seems fitting that “Taking” and “Babies” are in the company’s name.
Some of the lesser remembered cruel and anti-family policies promoted by the Trump administration range from nixing protections for transgender kids, repealing DACA, and even watering down a nonbinding World Health Organization resolution that promoted breastfeeding.
This list can go on and on.
In response to the firestorm, she was quoted defending her political donations by stating, “…there were aspects of the Trump Administration that I agreed with and some that I disagreed with…” A modern-day equivalent to acknowledging that Mussolini’s trains ran on time.
Her response is far from adequate. I don’t expect her to grovel for her political donations and values but what she is failing to acknowledge is that her brand is betrayed by her political values and renders her a fraud.
It is worth mentioning that in light of her political values, another problematic part of her platform is her eagerness to loftily promote multiculturalism and post cutesy graphics quoting Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. both in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and subsequent national protests and to commemorate MLK Day. In the comments section of one such post, she boasts of having an “anti-racist” folder of work.
One cannot claim to be sincerely interested in anti-racism and support the Trump administration. Those two values are antipodal.
This whitewashing of MLK’s legacy is offensive and misrepresents the progressive radicalism of his strive for racial justice. Anyone can copy and paste a MLK quote — as plenty of nice white ladies like Cara do — to promote nonconfrontational ideas of inclusivity and harmony. But it’s disingenuous to MLK’s legacy to ignore the depth of his activism and the scope of his uncomfortable and confrontational but nonviolent work.
It is so deeply disappointing that Cara peddles — for profit — parental empowerment and family harmony to some families but supports an administration that harmed so many others.
My baby sleeps through the night — I do wonder, how does Cara?