Offering continued evidence that this nation is badly in need of some serious discussions about race, history and stereotyping, a white second-grader and his parents in Colorado finds themselves in the midst of a roiling controversy because of his decision to portray Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—the historical figure that was assigned to him by the teacher— on his class’s “wax museum day.” Most of the outrage has stemmed from the family’s decision to cover the boy’s face in black paint to complete the portrayal. Now the family of the little boy, Sean King, is asking school officials to apologize to him for being “mean” to him when they told him he had to wash his face.
So many of the issues that we address on these MyBrownBaby pages in the end are about poor judgment and degrees. When it comes to parenting, it seems that most everything we do comes down to judgment and degrees: When your kid screws up, it might be okay to send him to his room, maybe in some households to swat his behind or make him stand in the corner—but punching him the face with a balled-up fist, making him sleep outside or denying him a day’s worth of meals would all be considered punishment that is many degrees too far. A parent who used those methods would rightly be accused of exercising poor judgment. The parenting decisions fly at us at a rapid pace. Some of them we get right; some we get wrong. Sometimes, our judgment feels like the only tool we have at our disposal.