President Obama just gave us another sign that a post-racial America might be in our future someday with his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, but elsewhere in this country folks are still stuck in the Jim Crow era. Take the students of Montgomery County Georgia who still must have segregated proms. Yes, in the year 2009!
What’s most fascinating about this phenomenon is that during the school year the students interact with one another normally. Black and white students are even friendly—and date one another. But for some reason when it comes to the prom, parents have a say in the agenda and the school takes a back seat. So in this town when two-thirds of the people are white, they have made it clear that folks that look like us are not allowed to participate in the ‘white-folks prom’ (that’s what the town calls it, yes for real). This has been going on for thirty eight years—since the school district was integrated. Could it be that parents are worried about sex? Newsflash! That’s probably happening anyway.
The black students know this is all crazy so they have petitioned the school to sponsor a single prom. And get this, the school said no citing poor attendance when they tried it more than a decade ago. So the fight seems to die with every graduating class and this Jim Crow-like tradition continues. And it doesn’t seem like the black parents are up for this particular fight (at least none of them were interviewed for the story I read).
This year a few black students went over to the ‘white-folks prom’ to observe and got to see their friends all dressed up. But they were ushered out by chaperones once the father/daughter dance was over. Afterwards, they were understandably disappointed—especially because one young sister said her best friend was at that prom. But the segregation did have some effect that night: the white and black teens didn’t do their usual text messaging at all. I don’t think any of their white friends came over to the ‘black-folks prom’ the next night either.
Now the segregated prom phenomenon is not limited to this town in Georgia. You can bet it is happening in lots of other places too ( and not just limited to the rural South). In fact, HBO will show the documentary “Prom Night in Mississippi” which captures what happens at Charleston High School in actor Morgan Freeman’s home state when the actor offers to pay for the school’s first integrated prom. Hint: let’s just say that the Academy Award winner got a little pushback from white parents.
All this is both sad and ridiculous. But also outdated when it comes to the racial makeup of this country. Now these communities in questions are mostly black and white, but we know that Asians and Hispanics populations are growing (and they’re in the South too!) They may not live in these particular communities right now but one day they might. Has anybody considered what prom they’d attend? Or are they expected to stay home? Clearly these folks are still trying to live in the 1950s in many ways. Holding on to this inane tradition just doesn’t make much sense.Read Also