The First Neegah President

Kids can be ignorant. So, one has to consider the context as to whether or not a child is being malevolent or is merely uninformed. 

During a recent class the kids were working together on group projects. The assignment: If you could be like anyone famous, who would it be and why?

One group of girls chose Kim Yuna; another group, a footballer, while another chose to focus on President Barack Obama. There were 4 kids working on the project, and their reasons included that President Obama is smart and handsome. One rogue group member was off on a tangent drawing a rather koonish picture of Mr. President.

Rather than take offense I let him continue his art undisturbed. I felt that he had freedom to express his own ideas, and I wasn’t going to chastise him over [my interpretation of] the picture. 

Now, one of his group mates proceeds to ask me, “Teacher, what is Barack Obama…he’s the first what….his skin color???” I told him that Obama was the first black president, and he retorted, “Teacher he’s not BLACK, he’s BROWN.” “Ok,” I responded. “You’re right. You can say that he’s the first African-American president.” Suddenly, our portraitist went into a spasm. “Neegah, he’s the first neegah president!”

What would you do in this situation?