Mississippi Mother Says School Giving “Monkey Award” to Her Son was “Unacceptable”
A Mississippi mother is upset after her son came home with a "Monkey Award" from his preschool.
Shemekia Ellis told WMC News that her son Braylen attends pre-kindergarten school at Batesville Elementary and she was shocked to see what was sent home with her child.
Braylen was given a "Monkey Award" for "entertaining others" in his Pre-K class.
Initially, Braylen was excited to show his mother the "Monkey Award" along with the other accolades that he collected at school, but at his young age, his mother says he was oblivious to the racial context attached to the word "monkey"—a term that has historically been used to refer to Black people in a disparaging manner.
He was excited about the award but he had no idea what he was holding. It’s unacceptable for me.
Ellis reached out to school officials with the South Panola School District and was able to meet with the superintendent as well as the principal of Batesville Elementary.
The officials explained that her son's class had an animal-themed award ceremony and they had previously warned the teachers to be mindful and cautious with the awards that were being given out.
She [the principal] stated that she had a meeting with them and she stated that they were not to pass out any awards that would be offensive or raise a red flag but they did it anyway
According to Ellis, school officials said Braylen's teacher was also unaware of "the racist history of referring to Black people as monkeys."
Regardless of whether or not she knew, Ellis says she still wants an apology.
These teachers have messed up. They were wrong. The superintendent knew they were wrong. The principal knew they were wrong. They need to be held accountable for what they have done.
The story has been met with mixed reactions on social media, with some people in agreement with Ellis—claiming that there is no excuse for the teachers involved.
Others felt like the mother was overreacting and making the award out to be something more than what was intended.
Obviously, this is a sensitive subject and it is understandable why the mother is upset. Tell us what you think about the situation and if there is anything you think can be done to rectify the situation.