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The Column

Keeping Your Prom Misses
5/4/03

Could you imagine what it would be like to have gone to school in Georgia's Taylor County 50 years ago, where your choice of prom was determined by your race? Well, you don't have to - as a special tribute to ignorance and racism everywhere, that fabulous tradition has returned!

Thanks to the parents and students at Taylor County High School, you too can know what it is like to be separate but equal. Gone is that pesky punch bowl interaction with people of a different skin color. In its place, good old fashion 19th century oppression. Yeehaw.

If you can't tell I'm being sarcastic, you're probably one of the people dumb enough to think this is a good idea. And by "this," I mean a rural Georgia high school propagating racism like David Duke in an election year.

Since Taylor County High School does not fund the prom, parents and students get together and create one. Or two. Last year, the prom was integrated, much like the rest of the country has been for the last few decades. But this year, there will be separate white and black proms. And what bothers me most is not this year's reversion. It's that last year was the only integrated prom since the school stopped funding them in 1972. That's right - racism and close-mindedness have been proud traditions of Taylor County for over thirty years.

My family is white, but my sister is adopted and black. And growing up with her taught me both not to judge people based on race, and that unfortunately some other people do. When I see my sister, I don't think about her skin color - the same way she doesn't think about mine. Besides, I'm too busy thinking about how glad I am not to live in Taylor County.

Taylor County is located about 150 miles south of Atlanta, a city best known for being burned to the ground during the civil war. But this week, Taylor County is 150 miles and 40 acres south of Atlanta, and the only way to get there is by mule (see history book, yours).

And though there are two proms this year, only one is segregated. The prom hosted by the parents of many of the black students is open to everyone - as both of them should be. However, the second prom (though organized first, it is second in class) is open only to white people. And if you don't want to rent a tux to attend, I hear Bed, Bath, and Beyond is having a white sale.

There are 439 students at TCHS, 232 of whom are black. That's right - the whites are the minority, and somehow, they're still busy segregating. Can you imagine the meeting it must have taken to organize a whites only prom?

"I really like the idea of 'Zack and Kelly's Prom' for the theme. But what about if we replace 'Zack' with 'White People' and 'Kelly' with 'More White People.' I think that will really jazz it up."

"So you're saying you want the theme to be 'White People and More White People's Prom?'"

"Um, yes."

"Cool, me too."

The defense for why there's a need for segregated proms is perhaps the most ridiculous part of this story. According to a writer from the Associated Press, "they wanted to avoid problems arising from interracial dating." Halle Berry, Lenny Kravitz, and Tiger Woods arose from interracial dating, and I don't see much of a problem with any of them.

I am embarrassed to be an American when we allow this to happen. Yes, private parties are private parties. But that fact that this has been going on since 1972 and just now made the papers is as ridiculous as it happening in the first place.

I am very patriotic, because I believe in the ideals set forth for us in our Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and other such old and yellowed things. So if anyone in a position of power is reading this, as Americans (and humans), we need to make sure we stick true to our own ideals before we go imposing them on other people.

Imagine then, a country where people stick to those ideals. Imagine a country where people stand up for what they believe in. And imagine what this country could be like if we actually kept our promises.

It's easy if you try.

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