The family of a biracial middle schooler is rallying support from their community after the tween’s language arts teacher allegedly insulted his mixed heritage.
Kevin Brown, the boy’s father, posted a note to Facebook last week describing the incident involving his son, Kaden.
“In October 12, 2016 at Wolfe Middle School in Center Line, Michigan his teacher (a white middle age woman), his educator look at his beautiful curly hair and asked my son, ‘Are You A Mutt?'”
Brown went on to explain that, at first, Kaden didn’t understand the comment, and only after a fellow classmate explained the word’s derogatory meaning did he begin to feel the hurt of his teacher’s remarks.
“This left my son, my heart and joy feeling like he meant nothing, that he was less than nothing,” Brown wrote. “He even went home and asked his mother, ‘Why can’t I be all white’, he wants to disown his African American heritage for his mother’s German, Italian, Irish heritage (guess his mom is a Mutt too)!!!!”
The post included a picture of Kaden holding a sign reading “I am not a Mutt!!!”
Speaking with Detroit news outlet WJBK, Kaden expressed a similar sentiment, telling the station, “I don’t really want to be two different races now, because people ask me if I’m adopted because I’m mixed.”
In response to the teacher’s comments, a school official later confirmed to WJBK that the incident was being investigated.
“I can tell you that [the teacher] is quite upset as the student is quite upset about the whole situation,” assistant superintendent for human resources Andrew McKinnon told the station. “Nobody likes to be in this position. None of the actors in this, I’m sure, are happy to be in this position.”
Since he posted his Facebook note on October 13, Brown’s message has inspired other people with mixed race heritage to come forward with their own stories of discrimination in support of Kaden.
In a second Facebook post made after his initial note went viral, Brown shared video of Kaden, taken several years ago. In it, he is shown asking his son “Who defines you?”
Without hesitation, Kaden answers, “me.”