Segregated proms are a relic of a Jim Crow past

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The past is more than history; it’s still with us today.

In the 20th century the Supreme Court wisely ruled on the case Brown v. Board of Education. The decision concluded that racial segregation of children in public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Most people would assume that since this case happened so long ago, segregation no longer exists. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

Wilcox County High School resides in a rural area of the Deep South in the state of Georgia. Although the high school is integrated, the school has carried on the tradition of segregated proms almost every year since the 1970s, according to the NBC station WMGT.

More perplexingly, the school itself does not fund what is known as the ‘White Prom’ and the ‘Black Prom.’ They are privately funded through the students’ parents. For the school to approve of this absurdity for so long is a disgrace and serves as an example of why we still have racial issues today.

Ethnocentricity, when one race believes that they are superior to another, is an invalid mindset. While it is true that some races have certain culturally dictated advantages over others, many people often confuse that with inherent racial superiority.

We have adopted the idea of an ‘us versus them’ mentality as a result of failing to understand others’ cultures in our society. It’s important to teach and expose youth of different ethnic backgrounds to each other. One of the best ways to do this is to provide and encourage diversity within schools; even if it’s something as little as an integrated prom.

It takes more than a conversation to gain insight into how other people feel; you need experience. ‘A Class Divided’ was a program documenting a racial discrimination lesson to third grade Caucasian students. One day the students were divided into two groups: “blue eyed” and “brown eyed.” At first the blue eyed students had more privileges, and the brown eyed students wore a scarf to show they had fewer rights. The next day the roles changed.

The meaning of the study was to illustrate that in comparison to eye color, skin color shouldn’t make a difference about how people are treated. It is important to start educating students at a young age about discrimination, but it is never too late if for anyone.

Society will experience social, economic and political benefits in our increasingly diverse nation if we work among one another despite physical appearances.

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’” Yes, we are all equal as far as having the opportunity to get an education, shelter, clothing, etc.

Having equality is what King’s dream was about. Equality sees no color and no difference in ability or value. As a nation we have to realize and accept the reality that segregation and discrimination still exists. In doing so, we live out the dream that Martin Luther King Jr. so sincerely wanted.

-Chelsea Keyes is a sophomore communication major from Tacoma. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.