An innocent tribute gone horribly wrong by a well-meaning child? Or a subliminal diss supported by parents who just don’t understand (racial sensitivity)? We’ll let you decide after watching KRDO’s TV news report about a second grade student at Meridian Elementary in Colorado Springs, Colorado — ironically enough, named Sean King — who celebrated “wax museum day” at his school by dressing up as Civil Rights hero Martin Luther King, Jr. The crux of the controversy: young Sean’s costume included not just a suit and tie, but um, blackface . According to reports, a faculty member saw the boy before going to class and notified the principal. School officials subsequently told the child to take off the make-up because the face paint violated the campus dress code. Even though Sean was not suspended and was allowed to return to school, his parents were not pleased. “As a parent I think it’s pretty sad that you’ve got a principal and a faculty member that are acting the way they are when they should be setting an example for children,” said Sean’s father Anthony Roca. “He’s proud of what he did and I’m proud of what he did.”
Sean himself told a KRDO reporter: “They thought it was inappropriate and it will be disrespectful to Black people and I say it’s not. I like Black people. It’s just a costume and I don’t want to insult anybody.”
Blackface: apparently, it ain’t so black-or-white anymore. Watch KRDO’s news story, and read the King Center in Atlanta’s response to the controversy, after the jump…
Steve Klein, a King Center representative in Atlanta, GA told KRDO News that he believes Sean is, “a decent kid who wanted to honor Dr. King in some way,” but feels “there is a disconnect here that young people need to know their history a little better” when it comes to blackface. Meridian Elementary announced they plan to start a class for both children and adults that addresses stereotyping.