At what age do children learn that blackface is offensive? Eight-year-old Sean King was blissfully unaware when he showed up to his second-grade classroom in Colorado Springs dressed as Martin Luther King, Jr. for a school project. Sean was pulled out of class and asked to remove his blackface paint, but was not penalized beyond that.
The local ABC affiliate who reported the story, KRDO, spoke to representatives from the NAACP and The King Center for their thoughts on the incident. Both seemed to agree that there was no ill intent behind Sean’s desire to emulate MLK, but that it spoke to larger issues of awareness and should serve as a teachable moment for the community. Steve Klein of The King Center in Atlanta said, “There is a disconnect here that young people need to know their history a little better.”
For a second grader, a lack of awareness is understandable, but what about his parents? His mother, Michelle King-Roca, is still upset by the incident and says she’s not sure she wants him to go back to school.
Who should be responsible for teaching children cultural awareness?
A Boston native, Amy has worked in the film industry's social media space since 2008. As TakePart's Digital Community Coordinator, she combines her passion for social good with her knack for connecting ideas and people. Email Amy|@amyeicher