Friday, April 5, 2013

How We All May Be Contributing to the Segregation of Proms

Act #95:  Own it.  Move beyond it.

By now you've probably heard about the high school in a small town in southern Georgia that is once again holding two separate proms:  one for black students and one for white students.  The school district hasn't financially supported a prom in 30 years, leaving students to raise money for the events themselves.  Shocking, right?  So my first gut reaction was this.  Protest.  Call the ACLU.  Send money to support the integrated prom that a group of bi-racial students are tyring to organize.  But then it occurred to me that real, live 17 year-old human beings (and odds are, their parents too), are making the conscious decision, in the year 2013, not to co-mingle with classmates of another race during their last coming-of-age teenage ritual.  And then it also also occurred to me that these kids are getting these ideas from somewhere - the idea that humans have different values based on the color of their skin.  The idea that it is acceptable to use force to quell efforts of reconciliation (police escorts have stopped black students from entering the white prom in past years).  The idea that the quality of their lives are somehow better if they could just exclude entire populations of people because of what they look like.  Gee, I wonder where they got those ideas? 

So while this formal act of segregation may infuriate us and make our skin crawl, I challenge us to ask ourselves how we might be unknowingly contributing to a generation of 17-year olds who grow up with these ideals.  We may have voted for Barack Obama, contributed money to human rights organizations, have "Love is Color Blind" bumper stickers on our cars, but how do we choose to live the most mundane, most intimate, most personal moments of our daily lives?  What do our children grow up learning and seeing simply by watching us?  I challenge us to ask ourselves the following questions.  If you're like me, you might be surprised with yourself.  If not, more power to you.  Spread the love.  Segregation, whether intetional or subliminal, will continue to exist only if we refuse to break down our own invisible walls.

1.    Who do you share a copier and a water cooler with?
2.    Who lives on your street?
3.    Who is sprawled out on your sofa when you throw parties in your home?
4.    Who is in your child's class?
5.    Who shares the pews with you at your place of worship?
6.    Who is your babysitter?
7.    Who sits around your restaurant table on a night out with friends?
8.    Who do you sleep with?
9.    Who did you used to sleep with?
10.  Who did you call when you broke up with your last significant other?


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