When Kevin Brown's 11-year-old son Kaden came home from school last week, he asked his parents a question that caught them off-guard. "Why can't I be all white?"
Kaden, whose mom is white and dad is African American, had been referred to as a "mutt" earlier that day by his teacher. Not understanding the word, he asked his classmates and teacher what she meant by it. His father said her response made him feel like he was "less than nothing."
Kevin quickly took to Facebook when he heard the story to express his concern. He posted a photo of Kaden holding up a defiant sign reading, "I am not a mutt!!!"
"This is my beautiful, smart, joyful 11-year-old biracial son Kaden," Kevin wrote. "This teacher made my son feel dirty, calling him a mutt, a dog with no identity who doesn't belong. I AM OUTRAGED!!! This racist behavior should not be allowed in our schools, our children should never be faced with this BS, especially in the classroom from people that we (parents) entrust our children's protection."
He called on viewers of the photo to "let my son know he is loved and special" and "light up the darkness!"
In 2010, a U.S. Census Report showed that approximately 9 million people identified as multiracial in the United States. Brown and his son's story sheds an important light on the prejudice that many of those Americans may experience.
Ken Tanabe, the founder of Loving Day — an organization that is fighting racial prejudice through education and multicultural community building — emphasized that Kaden's experience probably isn't unique.
"I understand how Kaden must have felt," Tanabe told A Plus in an email. "It's important to balance those experiences with positive ones. Caring parents can do that. Celebrating Loving Day can amplify that. And even supportive Facebook comments are uplifting."
Loving Day organizes global celebrations of love every year around June 12. Their name comes from Loving v. Virginia (1967), the Supreme Court case that declared laws against interracial relationships unconstitutional in the United States.
Kevin suggested that the teacher in question be let go, but Tanabe cautioned against extreme measures.
"No one learns from being shut down," he said. "Even negative experiences can become opportunities to learn and to further the conversation."