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Segregation is not tradition

By , Opinions Editor  |  Sunday, April 21, 2013 8:51 PM

Last week, I was listening to the radio on my way to class when a news station reported that a small high school in Rochelle, Ga., would be breaking tradition by hosting its first-ever integrated prom. I thought to myself, “It’s about time they allow same-sex couples to go to formal dances together,” before realizing that “integrated” wasn’t a reference to gay couples. It was a reference to race.

Here I thought Georgia was taking part in a forward movement for equality. In reality, their version of “breaking tradition” is 50 years behind the rest of us.

I would have never in my wildest dreams considered writing a column on the subject of segregation because, quite frankly, I was unaware that it still existed in America. I assumed that those extremist views had settled themselves in dark closets, next to skeletons of intolerance and hate, not modern day high schools.  ops_logo

I was wrong.

For the first time in history, Wilcox County High School will allow students of every cultural background to attend prom together. Saturday, April 27 marks the inaugural dance, a momentous occasion for four girls who fought back against a deep divide between black and white.

Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker, Quanesha Wallace and Keela Bloodworth are seniors at Wilcox and because only two of the girls are white, the friends would be forced to attend different proms. They only wished to celebrate their last year together, so they made a call for action.

I assumed everyone would be celebrating along with them. Wrong, again.

Georgia governor Nathan Deal refused to take sides on the matter, after a group called “Better Georgia” urged him to support the biracial prom. His spokesman Brian Robison responded on behalf of Deal.

“This is a leftist front group for the state Democratic party, and we’re not going to lend a hand to their silly publicity stunt,” Robison wrote in an email.

I assume it’s because they are much too busy planning a sock hop at the local soda fountain (dress code: leather jackets and poodle skirts, please).

According to Bloodworth, about half of Wilcox students support the push for biracial prom. The girls have placed posters around school and others have been ripping them down.

As for the parents and faculty, Bloodworth said, “They don’t voice their opinions one way or the other.”  CARLY_COLUMN

Huffington Post reported that the only reason these segregated proms are still legal is because they’re considered “private parties.” They’re funded by students, parents and community members to avoid implicating the civil rights that, apparently, don’t apply to them.

Wallace described the reactions of fellow students in response to the integrated prom: “We need to stick with the tradition. This is a traditional thing we don’t need to change.”

According to Dictionary.com, the word “tradition” is defined as “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.”

After Wallace asked fellow students why they had to stick with separate proms, she said, “No one can answer my question.”

That’s the problem. These kids don’t know why they’re promoting intolerance. They don’t know that tradition is not defined as being inherently right, ethical or moral, nor do they care to analyze its rationale. They’re simply internalizing the ignorance of a different generation just like their parents did.

Let’s all participate in a leftist publicity stunt until we break that tradition.

Carly Samuelson said samu5380@stthomas.edu.

This item was posted in Opinions and has 2 comments so far.

2 Comments

  1. Barbara Gorski
    Apr. 22, 2013 9:41 AM

    Carly – What a compelling article you wrote about the prom policy at Wilcox County High School in Georgia. I started at a new high school my junior year (my Dad was transferred for his job), just one year after that school was finally desegregated.

    And, no I did not attend my junior year of high school in 1955! The policy to desegregate this particular school took place in 1972 – 17 years after Brown vs The Board of Education was passed. And I thought place was inappropriately slow to respond to the law.

    But, a high school in 2013 that is still struggling with people of different races seeing each other in prom attire while dancing just seems impossible. Doesn’t it??

    Some UST students have commented that my discussing issues of discrimination are out of touch with the realities of today. They have made comments about “in your day…those issues existed, but come on Dr. Gorski, this is a different era…” But, then we read an article like yours and realize that we all still have work to do.

    Thank you Carly for your insights and your writing. You have prompted me to recommit to my efforts to work for justice for ALL of us!

  2. Eyerusalem Lemma
    Apr. 22, 2013 2:42 PM

    I think its important to remember that the civil rights movement was just 50 years ago. There are still people from that time and more importantly, and more dangerous: ideas. Those views still exist strongly and we still have to be vigilant for civil rights injustices. We are in no way past the civil rights movement and we do not exist in a perfect world right now.

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