“It’s hard to imagine that the practice of segregation still exists in the United States,” bleated Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a University of Florida law student in a column in the Los Angeles Times last week, “but it does.”
What’s really hard to imagine is that any person old enough and bright enough to go to law school could write such a sentence. [May 14, 2003, Separate Proms -- and Racism -- Linger in Parts of the South,Los Angeles Times, Florida version, no registration req'd]
The reason for Mr. Shapiro’s lack of imagination was the announcement by white students at a high school in Wrightsville, Ga., that they would hold a spring prom restricted to whites only.
Their school held another, official prom that students of all races could attend, but the whites wanted their own prom.
For that reason, for the last couple of weeks, the high schoolers have had to endure the sneers, insults, denunciations and ridicule of people like Mr. Shapiro, who know exactly what the students in Georgia should do and how they should do it.
One such denouncer is pundit Bill O’Reilly, who screamed about the wickedness and backwardness of the white students for days. In a recent column, [Prom Night - All White, May 08, 2003] Mr. O’Reilly pontificates about how helpless he, you, the federal government, the courts and presumably the United Nations all are in preventing the prom or punishing the students.
“You can’t sue because the event is being held off-campus. It’s a private party, and no person of color is welcome. Yet the party is being held under the banner of Taylor High’s junior prom. Yes, there is an alternative prom where everyone is welcome, but still a number of your classmates do not want to celebrate with you.”
It’s terrific that Mr. O’Reilly recognizes that there are limits to the power of the state to interfere with private social events, and so does Mr. Shapiro, who sadly acknowledges, “Authorities are powerless to interfere” with the white prom.
Yet it apparently has never occurred to either of them that the white students, like all other Americans, have a right to freedom of association and that there is absolutely nothing anyone or anything can or should do to interfere with what is basically merely a private party.
What is wrong with whites holding a whites-only prom? As a reader of Mr. O’Reilly’s column in the Washington Times wrote in response to it,
“As a young adult not too far removed from an ‘integrated’ Prince George’s County high school, I can tell you that there were a number of clubs to which whites need not have applied. Mr. O’Reilly should know that it is considered normal, even encouraged, for blacks and other minorities to form groups in clubs just for themselves. Even at school sporting events, blacks would congregate on one side of the gym, whites on the other. At lunch, blacks would sit with other blacks, whites with other whites. Heterosexual whites constituted the only group that did not have an organization of its own.”
The point, which neither Mr. O’Reilly nor Mr. Shapiro seems capable of grasping, is that “segregation,” if that’s the right term for the voluntary association of people of the same race, is commonplace, and nowhere more so than among blacks.
There are black student unions, black dormitories, black student associations, and black professional groups, not to mention black caucuses and wealthy, powerful national organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People explicitly devoted to the advancement of the political power of blacks.
This week the Washington Post carried a front page story [Diversity Or Division, by Michael A. Fletcher, May 19, 2003] about how blacks and other racial minorities are holding racially separate graduation ceremonies and events at the University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt, Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, and other prestigious schools, all with the approval if not the sponsorship of the colleges’ administrations.
I await with bated breath Mr. O’Reilly’s and Mr. Shapiro’s fulminations about such “segregation.”
I expect I will suffocate first.
Why can’t whites have their own private dance without being damned and denounced by self-righteous prigs like Mr. Shapiro and Mr. O’Reilly?
Quite simply because white racial identity and white racial consciousness are today verboten, virtually illegal under public law and certainly a taboo enforced by self-appointed watchdogs like our two valiant apostles of color-blindness, while non-white racial identity and consciousness are not only legitimate but encouraged and actually promoted by the government and dominant culture.
In fact, there is nothing wrong with either racial group holding its own parties, proms, ceremonies, and social events, and the commonplaceness of non-whites doing so means that there is no legitimate reason why whites cannot and should not do so as well.
Those like Mr. Shapiro and Mr. O’Reilly who haven’t heard about it need to catch up with the times.