Last weekend, Wilcox County High School, a rural high school in Georgia, had its first integrated prom ever. This made national news about a month ago when it was announced, causing people to be equally as relieved as they were outraged.
The prom was organized thanks to some ambitious students who wanted to see real change happen in their small school. Through social media and word of mouth, they raised enough money to put on their mixed race prom (I know—I hate having to clarify that the prom was integrated; it’s 2013 for crying out loud), and they still had money left over to help the homeless.
I know that we should be praising this high school’s students for organizing a prom that breaks the norms of their school and their state (it’s still allowed in the state of Georgia for high schools to hold segregated proms and other social events if they see fit—the NAACP recently started a petition to overturn this), but I would like to say what everyone else is thinking:
Should we really be treating this like a massive achievement for civil rights, when all that happened was a seemingly backwards state finally caught up with the rest of the nation?
That might be a harsh way of putting it, but seriously—imagine you bought a puppy and tried and tried and tried as hard as you could to house train it. Nothing you did worked until, suddenly, at the age of six, your dog told you that it had to go outside (not by speaking; likely by gesturing or barking). Would you praise the dog or would you be disappointed in it and yourself for having not punished it or given it away earlier? Is it right to forget about the past six years and immediately let the dog back on your good side even though it took them six years to do what most dogs can get the grasp on in six months—and would you have even tolerated a dog for six years?
I’m not saying we shouldn’t be proud of the kids responsible for this—it takes a lot of guts to step out of the norm and do something that people might think is wrong.
What I’m saying is that we should shame the people that think it’s still okay to have a segregated prom. Why are we paying attention to the people that still think it’s proper to treat people as sub-humans, when I think it’s safe to say that the majority of the country has gotten out of the bigoted swamp that it used to live in?
Let’s just treat the people who do good for this world the right way and bring negative attention to the people who still want to pretend that it’s okay to turn a fire hose on a crowd of minorities—is that too hard to ask?