Original URL: http://www.jsonline.com/news/metro/may03/140734.asp
We'd better hope folks in
Segregated, as in "Whites Only."
For young people in some parts of
Just over the weekend, two high
schools in rural
"It's always been like that," said Carla Rachels, 17. "We don't see it as a big deal."
Predictably, many residents -
black and white - in these small communities are upset at all the negative
attention. For all but the most backward minds, having a "Whites
Only" prom seems downright archaic, a throwback to the days of
"Colored" water fountains and "Whites Only"
bathrooms. "We're getting beat up unfairly, our students are," said
Wayne Smith, superintendent of
If you think the idea of an
"all-white" prom has to do with different styles of music, dress,
slang or anything other than white parents deathly afraid their fair-skinned
daughter might dance too close to a black male, it's time to take your head out
of the sand. Interracial sex is one of the great hidden secrets behind
Maybe it's a sign we need to get our own house in order before dictating to others how they should live.
From the May 15, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
May 28, 2003
I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed Salena De La Cruz's column ("Turning back the clock on civil rights," ODE, May 12) about the first integrated prom.
I wanted to inform your readers that it is not only going on just in
I am very sad to have missed out on my 10-year high school reunion, but I am
told I did not get invited because I married someone "not white." I
am married to a man who is Arab. In
my school, I remember being friends with kids whose fathers were in the Ku Klux
Klan. I remember some boys who could not attend the football games because they
had a KKK meeting that night. This was in 1999. For homecoming, we could dress up in
costumes. Some people just wore their father's KKK outfits to school... and
there would be this one small kid who they would dress up in black (paint his
face and all) and call him "nigger," and for the lunch break they
would chase him around school. I am not proud of this at all! I am just
surprised that the rest of the
I had lots of friends in the public school system. From what I know, the
public school system in my parish, and any parish I know of in
I have lost contact with most of my friends from high school because I do not agree with most of their ideas. The ones I do still talk to agree that we were raised wrong. I am happy to not live there anymore because I am a mother of two and plan on bringing my kids up where they treat people based on how people treat you, not on the color of your skin.
Your column brought me back to my high schools days, and unfortunately, I have a lot of kin who are still living this way. May God show them a change of heart.
Koddie Al-Rahbi lives in
Memories of a Prom -- In Color
May 13, 2003 -- When it comes to prom,
Nia Hightower says the only issues of black and white should be about tuxedos.
She recalls her own prom and shares what she thinks students at
The cars have been waxed. Shoes shined, makeup applied. And high school teens are looking for a good time. Isn't that what prom night should be?
For most, prom is an American tradition. It's the last formal, social event
for students as they're on the way out the high school doors. Seems like mere
days have passed since I was running around trying to make sure that last curl
was in place and that forehead-shine stayed powdered. In fact, it was only days ago that I
helped my little sister prepare for her foray into a "Night Under the Stars" here in
As I snapped the final photo and watched her ride off with her date, I
couldn’t help but feel relieved that her night would not be marred by the
heavy weights of exclusion or separation. The same could not be said of some
The return to a whites-only prom came after last year's integrated prom, which had broken a chain of segregated proms spanning more than 30 years. Why? Nearly 50 years after Brown v. Board of Education, why are there still segregated proms?
"It's just the way it has always been, a tradition," one student told
CNN as she attended the May 3 whites-only prom. Thank heavens we had the
foresight to break away from the "tradition" of slavery, the
"tradition" of prohibiting women from voting, the
"tradition" of living without electricity. I say this jokingly, but
these young people decided, and were supported by their parents, to exclude a
group of people from a social gathering on the basis of skin color, and that's
a "tradition" that should have changed long ago. "But there's
going to be black people catering there, so it's not a racist prom," said
another attendee. Luckily, a more inclusive prom was held a week later for the
More than students at fault
While I don't agree with the nonchalant attitude of the students toward this antiquated tradition, I find it hard to blame only them for their decision. Although the school system says it has nothing to do with the segregated affairs, it most certainly contributed to the success of those promoting divisiveness. After much national attention, school Superintendent Wayne Smith came out to divert blame from the school district. He told the Columbus (
Maybe in some bubble of a world the students, who deemed it necessary to have a separate event from their African-American classmates, will be able to function without having to socially deal with people unlike themselves. That's unlikely, though, and I fear they will have a hard time coping with the reality of a world filled with people of different cultures, classes, ethnicities, religions, hair colors and shoe sizes.
What remains sad about this situation is that, in 2003, this is not an
isolated incident. East of Taylor County at the other end of the state sits
Looking back on my own prom, way back in the day, I have to say the most memorable moments were those with my friends, black and white. I couldn't imagine not being able to see the quiet girl in my Algebra II class tear up the dance floor or the opportunity to see the class clown be turned away after strutting into the building with cut-up jean shorts, a tuxedo shirt, bowtie and tails. None of that would have been possible if my white classmates had not been invited to my prom. Students should not be cheated out of an all-inclusive high school memory.
Prom, as an American tradition, a rite of passage, shouldn't be about segregation. The only issues of black and white for prom should be limited to tuxedos.
Nia Hightower is a research analyst for the Southern