Friday, April 5, 2013

Georgian Teens Plan First-Ever Integrated Prom

Continuing along with my rant yesterday's conversation about race relations, today’s news is about the planning of the first-ever integrated prom at the Wilcox County High School in Abbeville Georgia. (Thanks for the lead, Adam.)

I thought that the movie For One Night, starring Raven Simone, chronicled the last of the segregated high school proms, also in Georgia, but clearly I was wrong.

Rochelle City Councilman Wayne McGuinty told WSAV-TV that the traditional segregated prom is not an accurate representation of his community and that "I think it's more of the personal opinions of those involved," which is a pretty funny statement, seeing as it makes absolutely no sense. Aren't community values shaped by the opinions and beliefs of the individuals in the community? No? Perhaps in this case space aliens fell from the sky and hijacked the community values? Give me a break. Maybe not everyone in this community thinks segregated proms is a good idea, but obviously some do. But never mind. The poor guy probably didn’t know what the hell to say.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine, years ago, about the segregated mining town she grew up in in Virginia, during the 1940s and early 1950s. She told me that she never considered her community racist in the slightest. The blacks had their part of town, and the whites had their part of town. They’d work together and then go home to their separate communities. It wasn’t until my friend came to Philadelphia that her views slowly began to change (something I consider ironic, by the way, as I’ve had a few white people tell me that Philadelphia is one of the most racist cities they’ve ever lived in. Oh well.)

Apparently the separate-but-perhaps-not-equal-but-who-gives-a-darn rules have always been strictly enforced in Wilcox County, and in 2012 a biracial student was turned away from the white prom by the police. Nice try, but no. Understand child that you are not, nor ever will be considered, white.

Keela Bloodworth, one of the prom planners, explained the motivation for the integrated prom planning. "We're basically siblings," Keela said, referring to the bond she shares with the three other planners, two white and one black. "We've spent more time together than anyone else.” Keela also said, “If we don’t change [this] nobody else will.”

So, I’m not gonna pretend to be cynical about this. I think what these young women are doing is beautiful and a wonderful testament to the power of friendship and youthful enthusiasm. I wish them a joyful and memorable prom night!

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