Saturday, May 23, 2009

Proms in black and white -- part 1

One gets the sense that Ebony & Ivory won't be played at the segregated proms in Montgomery County, Georgia. (Okay, given the song's high cheese factor, Ebony & Ivory probably won't be played much of anywhere else--nobody's that lactose tolerant).

From the New York Times,
Racially segregated proms have been held in Montgomery County — where about two-thirds of the population is white — almost every year since its schools were integrated in 1971.

...The senior proms held by Montgomery County High School students — referred to by many students as “the black-folks prom” and “the white-folks prom” — are organized outside school through student committees with the help of parents. All students are welcome at the black prom, though generally few if any white students show up. The white prom, students say, remains governed by a largely unspoken set of rules about who may come.
The quotes from one white student effortlessly reprise some of the "greatest hits" in racial excuse-making.

Remember this classic (beloved by Confederate flag-fliers everywhere):
Trying to explain the continued existence of segregated proms, Edge falls back on the same reasoning offered by a number of white students and their parents. “It’s how it’s always been,” he says. “It’s just a tradition.”
Or how about this timeless favorite?
I have as many black friends as I do white friends. We do everything else together.
And of course the grand-daddy of rationalizations
I don’t think anybody at our school is racist.
Of course not.

The lone bright spot in this story is that it is rare enough to be news.


Brenda Bowers said...

I have been aware for years of the black white proms that are taking place all over the country, and have come to understand that they are by choice in most cases. When students are interviewed it is a matter of the choice of music that is played that caused the problem. This is not to say that racism doesn't play a part in the deep South. However it surely doesn't play a part in Pennsylvania schools which have always been integrated and in most cases one prom was held for all students until from what I have read, the mid-1970's when Black students were the first to demand their own prom. I remember Pittsburg schools had a big to do about these separate proms where the school administration wanted to keep the prom as one entity for all and the Black students and parents revolted by sponsoring their own affair.

And another thing, it was always traditional at schools for the junior class to give the senior class a prom. It wasn't until the separate proms began that they became parent sponsored rather than school sponsored.

You are painting racism with too broad strokes here. BB

Dave Ribar said...


Thanks for your comment.

Your experiences may be different, but the article makes clear that the white parents are the ones perpetuating this particular split.

Hall Monitor said...

Check out for an AWESOME video trying to end segregated proms!