Wilcox County High School in the southern part of Georgia will be hosting their first racially intergraded prom. Wait, why is there discussion about a racially intergraded prom in 2013?
The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was adopted on July 9, 1868 only three years after the end of the Civil War.
The Equal Protection clause of the Fourteen Amendment states, “. . . No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. . . nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The wording of the Equal Protection Clause means that any institution receiving public funding, like a school, can no longer discriminate based on race.
However, it was not until eight-six years later in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) that the Supreme Court ruled that legalized racial segregation of school children was unconstitutional. Before Brown the courts had accepted “separate but equal,” but Brown ruled that separate schools were fundamentally unequal since they discriminated on race which made the children of color feel they were inferior.
Even with the ruling in Brown it took a second case Brown v. Board of Education II in 1954 to begin implementation. However Brown II left it up to local authorities to desegregate. Many local authorities did not want to desegregate. Many local authorities simply shut down entire districts. The white parents sent their children to private white schools and many of the people of color were left without an educational option for years.
Another Supreme Court case Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg came in 1970. A full sixteen years after Brown a North Carolina school district with over 14,000 students had schools that were all or 99 percent people of color. The Court made another ruling and forced integration.
However, it appears the Court was unable to reach the prom. The reason why the Court cannot reach the prom is because the Court mostly focused on ‘de jure’ discrimination which is discrimination written in the law. For example, “school A will have white students, and school B will have non-white students.” ‘De facto’ discrimination or discrimination in practice is nearly outside the reach of the Court. Just take a look as the Detroit Public Schools. While the northern whites were cheering on desegregation in the south, Detroit was probably the most racial segregated school system in the country.
I fully support Quanesha Wallace in her creations of a desegregated prom. Similar to segregated schools, segregated proms are societal institutions that perpetuate a cycle of oppression and privilege.
Segregated proms are clearly racist.
Wilcox County High School should hold a desegregated prom and forbid the advertisement of a segregated prom on campus. Further, there is possible legal action that can be taken against the place holding the segregated prom and the coordinators who organize the segregated prom.
I am glad Quanesha Wallace was able to bring attention to this subject and I wish her well.