American southerners can be a wee bit defensive at times about how their part of the country is seen not just in the rest of the United States, but also throughout the rest of the world, and they're often quick to tell you that not only has racism ceased to be a central piller of Southern life, but the South is actually a leader in some ways in terms of race relations. To some extent this argument is correct, at least going by my experiences - most of the white Southerners I've met have been as far from matching the "latent Klansman" stereotype as it is possible to get - but now and again one runs across stories which belie the cheery image many Southerners would like to portray as the new reality: take this story of belated integration, for instance.
ASHBURN, Georgia (CNN) -- Students of Turner County High School started what they hope will become a new tradition: Black and white students attended the prom together for the first time on Saturday.
In previous years, parents had organized private, segregated dances for students of the school in rural Ashburn, Georgia, 160 miles south of Atlanta.Huh? There's "nothing racial" about school proms being segregated by race? Is Ms Bryan trying for the Monty Python writing team or something? "It's just a flesh wound! It's not dead, just resting!"
"Whites always come to this one and blacks always go to this one," said Lacey Adkinson, a 14-year-old freshman at the school of 455 students -- 55 percent black, 43 percent white.
"It's always been a tradition since my daddy was in school to have the segregated ones, and this year we're finally getting to try something new," she said.
Adkinson's sister, Mindy Bryan, attended a segregated prom in 2001.
"There was not anybody that I can remember that was black," she said. "The white people have theirs, and the black people have theirs. It's nothing racial at all." (emphasis added)
From the passages above one can tell that this racial divide has been actively fostered the parents of these students, but if there were any doubt about the matter, the following should settle it:
Nichole Royal, 18, said black students could have gone to the prom, but didn't.It isn't surprising that there are white parents who still think like this; what is surprising is how forthright they are about what they're thinking - no euphemisms about "crime", etc., just a flat-out declaration of opposition to "being with the colored people." Something to think about next time some troglodyte starts mouthing rubbish about how all those "minorities" should quit whining because racism is "dead" in America ...
"I guess they feel like they're not welcome," she said.
Nichols said while her parents were in support of the integrated prom, some of her friends weren't allowed to go.
"If they're not coming tonight it's because either they had to work and they couldn't get out of it or because their parents are still having an issue because they grew up in south Georgia," she said.
"I've asked, 'Why can't you come?' and they're like, 'My mommy and daddy -- they don't agree with being with the colored people,' which I think is crazy," she said.
PS: Anyone thinking of trying to emulate one dumb-as-rocks commenter here by equating racial prejudice with a lack of such prejudice on my part can expect summary banning for brazenly insulting my intelligence. If you can't think clearly, at least do yourself the courtesy of not revealing your mental shortcomings to the entire world in this manner.