Segregated Proms

Not that this was the first we've heard of it, but this piece on segregated proms was pretty interesting. I wish the editors had opted for a full on feature, instead of just a photo essay. Still, one theme came across that I found, at once, depressing and uplifting. The notion of segregated proms, really, is about the inability of white parents in the town to let go:

Black members of the student council say they have asked school administrators about holding a single school-sponsored prom, but that, along with efforts to collaborate with white prom planners, has failed. According to Timothy Wiggs, the outgoing student council president and one of 21 black students graduating this year, "We just never get anywhere with it." Principal Luke Smith says the school has no plans to sponsor a prom, noting that when it did so in 1995, attendance was poor.

Students of both races say that interracial friendships are common at Montgomery County High School. Black and white students also date one another, though often out of sight of judgmental parents. "Most of the students do want to have a prom together," says Terra Fountain, a white 18-year-old who graduated from Montgomery County High School last year and is now living with her black boyfriend. "But it's the white parents who say no. ... They're like, if you're going with the black people, I'm not going to pay for it."

"It's awkward," acknowledges JonPaul Edge, a senior who is white. "I have as many black friends as I do white friends. We do everything else together. We hang out. We play sports together. We go to class together. I don't think anybody at our school is racist." 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."

It's obviously cool to hear that young people are leading integrated social lives. You could see people like this ending the tradition once they become parents. Or not. I kept thinking that if you're the sort of person who is pissed that your town had a segregated prom, you're also a likely candidate to leave and raise a family elsewhere.