Toure's article, “Preconceptions,” published in The New York Times in 2011, opens with a discussion of whether spanking is an essential aspect of the black parent-child experience. Toure's preconception that it is, in fact, essential is overturned at a party when he faces differing opinions. One black man argues that home should not be a place of violence. Another woman, who he presumes to be white, is enthusiastically pro-spanking. Later in the night, another of Toure's preconceptions is turned on its head when he discovers that the woman he assumed to be white self-identifies as black. Toure's article raises questions about race, parenthood, adherence to tradition, and the preconceptions that shape and inform our lives.

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Connection and RelationshipDiversity and DifferenceHeritage and TraditionIdentity and CommunityRace, Ethnicity and CultureSpeech and Expression

Big Questions

What assumptions do we make about others?How do we balance the value of tradition with the need for change?How has my family or background shaped who I am?What assumptions do we make about people from different races, ethnicities and cultures?

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. What's your sense of who the narrator is?
  2. What is the narrator's “internal debate”?
  3. What makes the narrator think the woman at the party is white?
  4. When the narrator discovers that the “white” woman is actually black, he says “I was shocked that she was shocked and indignant that she was indignant." Why is the woman so offended? Why is the narrator so shocked?
  5. What do you make of Tourre's post-script?
  6. How do you relate this story to your own upbringing? Spank or don't spank?
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