Ah, class photo day. The chance to immortalize all of your young awkwardness in print for all to see..forever. But for whatever reason, one second-grader at Sawgrass Elementary School in Florida didn’t turn in the required parental permission slip to be in final print. He wasn’t the only one whose parents did not provide permission — another student was Photoshopped out of the class picture — but Photoshopping someone out of the front row just wouldn’t do. The solution? Put a brown smiley-face over the kid’s head and everybody will be happy.

Broward County Pictures has been doing school photos for almost forty years, so their first suggestion was to reshoot the picture. Then someone suggested putting a star over the child’s face. Finally, the Parent Teacher Association decided that a brown Milk Duddish cartoon head would be the best choice. They make Band-Aids in brown skin colors, so why not a smiley-face, right? Wrong.

When they caught wind of it, parents called the photo “offensive” and “degrading.” When the principal saw it she was “outraged” and ordered that a new picture be taken. The school also decided to not publish this photo in the school yearbook and to give all of the parents who ordered copies of this weirdo photo a free copy of the yet-to-be-taken photo that will not include the brown boy with the cartoon head.

Sometimes I can’t figure out which is worse: people who mean no harm but do ridiculous boneheaded things that teeter on the edge of racial insensitivity, or people who get so upset over such things that a mad rush to cover everyone’s behind and prove that no one is a racist ensues. I wouldn’t want to open up a yearbook and see this randomness in its pages, and I don’t know where the clip art for such a bizarre smiley face came from. Although I can’t figure out what on earth made the PTA decide on this particular course of action, it seems that some people are offended by anything that reminds black folks that we’re brown. The whole thing is just plain unfortunate and, beyond all else, goofy.

What do you think?


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