NEW CANEY, Texas – The father of a Houston-area high school basketball player is upset after his son, who is black, received a King Kong doll as a trophy for having a good basketball game.
New Caney Independent School District said the doll was not meant to offend or embarrass anyone, but Torrance Brown Sr. believes the trophy has racial overtones.
“It was supposed to be a reward for the most rebounds, my son did OK, he’s a real good player and to get an award would have been a blessing, but the award that was given to him was explained to me by child to be a monkey,” explained Brown, whose son is a senior and plays basketball at Porter High School.
Brown said Porter High School had their first game Tuesday night and his son was given the doll on Wednesday for his efforts.
“I let him tell me sheepishly again that he received the monkey because he was the best rebounder, another one of his player colleagues and friends and students received an award for best player on defense, he received Incredible Hulk, he’s Caucasian,” Brown explained.
Brown said originally his son described the award as a monkey and didn’t bring the doll inside their home and left it in the car Wednesday night. Brown said when he saw the 18-inch figurine the next morning in his son’s car, he was taken back.
“For our children to deal with this, we have worked past this as educators, as professionals, that our children should only have to deal with this type of racism and misunderstandings in the history books," Brown said.
The father of a Porter High School basketball player is upset that his son’s coach gave him a King Kong Ape as a trophy for having rebounds. Torrance Brown Sr. believes the gesture was insensitive. He says the Ape represents racial overtones. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/wcR4hP84fQ— Sophia Beausoleil (@KPRC2SophiaB) November 17, 2017
Brown said he met Thursday morning with the high school principal, who he applauded for working quickly to help him get answers.
The father said he found the trophy to be insensitive and told KPRC he asked the coach why.
“My question to him was, ‘You actually gave thought to this, bought this at Walmart, brought it to the school and handed it to my son in front of all of his players as a trophy, as an award? His answer was, ‘Yes,'” Brown said.
He said the head coach told him he would have given the award to another student if they performed well, too.
New Caney ISD said in a statement:
"The Porter High School Basketball Coach gave out awards yesterday for the best defender and the leading rebounder from the results of the first game. The coach symbolized these awards with dolls that had the likeness of the Incredible Hulk and likeness of King Kong. There was never any intent to offend or embarrass any student and the matter has been handled internally."
“He was told this was an award, for you being a great player in this game, King Kong has never played any games, he’s been destructive he’s been a nuisance, he’s an animal and there are so many levels of dishonor and disrespect and mental destruction,” said Brown.
New Caney ISD said in an email that the King Kong doll was for best rebounding and the Incredible Hulk doll was for best defender. Both awards were intended to represent great effort and intensity put forth by the players in the game and there were no other awards handed out.
Brown said his son was told that since it was his award, that he had to carry it around all day to his classes and was given a draw string backpack to put it in.
“My child carried this all day, the irreparable mental damage with being a respectable student and educated student, he didn’t fuss with his coach when he gave him direction, didn’t call me or his mother to ask for anything, but did what his coach told him to do.” Brown Sr. said. “And to be given this to carry around does mental anguish and also irreparable physical damage to my child because now this is in his mind.”