Debate and Discussion

looks like old habits in the deep south is hard to break!
Aurora Moon at 8:50AM, May 25, 2009
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http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/magazine/24prom-t.html?_r=2&em=&pagewanted=all

article
About now, high-school seniors everywhere slip into a glorious sort of limbo. Waiting out the final weeks of the school year, they begin rightfully to revel in the shared thrill of moving on. It is no different in south-central Georgia’s Montgomery County, made up of a few small towns set between fields of wire grass and sweet onion. The music is turned up. Homework languishes. The future looms large. But for the 54 students in the class of 2009 at Montgomery County High School, so, too, does the past. On May 1 — a balmy Friday evening — the white students held their senior prom. And the following night — a balmy Saturday — the black students had theirs.
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Photographs and Interviews by Gillian Laub: Voices From a Divided PromAudio Slide Show
Photographs and Interviews by Gillian Laub: Voices From a Divided Prom
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Gillian Laub for The New York Times

The white students’ prom was held on May 1 at a community center in nearby Vidalia; the black students had theirs at the same place the following night.
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Gillian Laub for The New York Times

Niesha Bell, a senior, was voted queen of the black prom. Niesha’s mother, Angela Bell, graduated from Montgomery County High School in 1978 and also attended a racially segregated prom. “I don’t see how things will ever change around here,” says Angela, a cashier. “It’s hard to see my girl in the same situation I was in 30 years ago.”
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Gillian Laub for The New York Times

Friends and family come together to watch the white students parade into their prom.

Racially segregated proms have been held in Montgomery County — where about two-thirds of the population is white — almost every year since its schools were integrated in 1971. Such proms are, by many accounts, longstanding traditions in towns across the rural South, though in recent years a number of communities have successfully pushed for change. When the actor Morgan Freeman offered to pay for last year’s first-of-its-kind integrated prom at Charleston High School in Mississippi, his home state, the idea was quickly embraced by students — and rejected by a group of white parents, who held a competing “private” prom. (The effort is the subject of a documentary, “Prom Night in Mississippi,” which will be shown on HBO in July.) The senior proms held by Montgomery County High School students — referred to by many students as “the black-folks prom” and “the white-folks prom” — are organized outside school through student committees with the help of parents. All students are welcome at the black prom, though generally few if any white students show up. The white prom, students say, remains governed by a largely unspoken set of rules about who may come. Black members of the student council say they have asked school administrators about holding a single school-sponsored prom, but that, along with efforts to collaborate with white prom planners, has failed. According to Timothy Wiggs, the outgoing student council president and one of 21 black students graduating this year, “We just never get anywhere with it.” Principal Luke Smith says the school has no plans to sponsor a prom, noting that when it did so in 1995, attendance was poor.

Students of both races say that interracial friendships are common at Montgomery County High School. Black and white students also date one another, though often out of sight of judgmental parents. “Most of the students do want to have a prom together,” says Terra Fountain, a white 18-year-old who graduated from Montgomery County High School last year and is now living with her black boyfriend. “But it’s the white parents who say no. … They’re like, if you’re going with the black people, I’m not going to pay for it.”

“It’s awkward,” acknowledges JonPaul Edge, a senior who is white. “I have as many black friends as I do white friends. We do everything else together. We hang out. We play sports together. We go to class together. I don’t think anybody at our school is racist.” Trying to explain the continued existence of segregated proms, Edge falls back on the same reasoning offered by a number of white students and their parents. “It’s how it’s always been,” he says. “It’s just a tradition.”

Earlier this month, on the Friday night of the white prom, Kera Nobles, a senior who is black, and six of her black classmates drove over to the local community center where it was being held. Standing amid a crowd of about 80 parents, siblings and grandparents, they snapped pictures and whooped appreciatively as their white friends — blow-dried, boutonniered and glittering in a way that only high-school seniors can — did their “senior walk,” parading in elegant pairs into the prom. “We got stared at a little, being there,” said one black student, “but it wasn’t too bad.”

After the last couple were announced, after they watched the white people’s father-daughter dance and then, along with the other bystanders, were ushered by chaperones out the door, Kera and her friends piled into a nearby KFC to eat. Whatever elation they felt for their dressed-up classmates was quickly wearing off.

“My best friend is white,” said one senior girl, a little glumly. “She’s in there. She’s real cool, but I don’t understand. If they can be in there, why can’t everybody else?”

The seven teenagers — a mix of girls and boys — slowly worked their way through two buckets of fried chicken. They cracked jokes about the white people’s prom (“I feel bad for them! Their prom is lame!”). They puzzled merrily over white girls’ devotion both to tanning beds (“You don’t like black people, but you’re working your hardest to get as brown as I am!”) and also to the very boys who were excluded from the dance (“Half of those girls, when they get home, they’re gonna text a black boy”). They mused about whether white parents really believed that by keeping black people out of the prom, it would keep them out of their children’s lives (“You think there aren’t going to be black boys at college?”). And finally, more somberly, they questioned their white friends’ professed helplessness in the face of their parents’ prejudice (“You’re 18 years old! You’re old enough to smoke, drive, do whatever else you want to. Why aren’t you able to step up and say, ‘I want to have my senior prom with the people I’m graduating with?’ ”).

It was getting late now. KFC was closing. Another black teenager was mopping the floor nearby. A couple of the boys mentioned they had to wash their cars in the morning. Kera had an early hair appointment. The next night, they would dress up and dance raucously for four hours before tumbling back outside, one step closer to graduating. In the meantime, a girl named Angel checked her cellphone to see if any of the white kids had texted from inside their prom. They hadn’t. Angel shrugged. “I really don’t understand,” she said. “Because I’m thinking that these people love me and I love them, but I don’t know. Tonight’s a different story.”

“It’s awkward,” acknowledges JonPaul Edge, a senior who is white. “I have as many black friends as I do white friends. We do everything else together. We hang out. We play sports together. We go to class together. I don’t think anybody at our school is racist.” Trying to explain the continued existence of segregated proms, Edge falls back on the same reasoning offered by a number of white students and their parents. “It’s how it’s always been,” he says. “It’s just a tradition.”

“Traditional racism” -

C'mon Montgomery County, what is it you are trying to teach the younger generations?
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:10AM
Jonko at 9:06AM, May 25, 2009
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Out of curiosity, doesn't this go against Brown v. Board of Education (banning segregated schools) or does it not apply because it's a segregated school event and not a segregated school?

Either way I had no idea that this still existed. It's absolutely shocking.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
Polkster at 9:35AM, May 25, 2009
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I don't think it counts because they're organized by student committees, not the school board.

Honestly, if they're not hurting anybody, who the fuck cares? Those white kids are probably dicks anyway.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:47PM
Aurora Moon at 9:56AM, May 25, 2009
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Polkster
I don't think it counts because they're organized by student committees, not the school board.

Honestly, if they're not hurting anybody, who the fuck cares? Those white kids are probably dicks anyway.

you're correct… this was organized by the students themselves and hosted at a different location out of school, because apparently their gym sucks or something.

again, right in that nobody was hurt, etc.

but this is still a very disturbing trend don't you think? Just because something is legal doesn't always make it right.

it makes me wonder about what could had motivated them to do such a thing.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:10AM
Hawk at 10:17AM, May 25, 2009
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Wierd… It's like one little county in the south didn't get the memo.

I wonder what would have happened if a few students wanted to switch it up and go to the opposite dance.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:46PM
Product Placement at 10:55AM, May 25, 2009
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Jonko
Out of curiosity, doesn't this go against Brown v. Board of Education (banning segregated schools) or does it not apply because it's a segregated school event and not a segregated school?
It's not hosted by the school so it's doesn't break any segregation laws that the school is forced to follow. According to the article, the only people left in the area that's clinging to this tradition are the old generation(the parents). And since they're paying for the prom, they get to cling onto their outdated traditions.
Those were my two cents.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:50PM
Skullbie at 12:20PM, May 25, 2009
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article
Kera and her friends piled into a nearby KFC to eat.
slowly worked their way through two buckets of fried chicken.
KFC was closing. Another black teenager was mopping the floor nearby.





 
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:47PM
Skullbie at 12:26PM, May 25, 2009
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No but seriously that's pretty crap, we have an amendment to change the way “it's always been” for a reason and I was wondering, do they let hispanic or asain kids into the white prom? What about half black students?
Wait that last part might be too much to hope for :x
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:47PM
TheFlyingGreenMonkey at 5:04PM, May 25, 2009
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Like the article said its the older genaration. I'm sure with each newer one this will just fade away.

last edited on July 14, 2011 4:17PM
Puff_Of_Smoke at 6:03PM, May 25, 2009
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Ironic that your president is black, and there's still some residual racism towards black people within the very same country.
I
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:56PM
megan_rose at 8:48PM, May 25, 2009
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Skullbie
No but seriously that's pretty crap, we have an amendment to change the way “it's always been” for a reason and I was wondering, do they let hispanic or asain kids into the white prom? What about half black students?
Wait that last part might be too much to hope for :x


Yeah, why do people seem to think there's black, there's white, and nothing else?


Pff_Of_Smoke
Ironic that your president is black, and there's still some residual racism towards black people within the very same country.


Oh man, just because we have a black president, doesn't mean racism is over. It just means the racist white people get to say “See? We have a black president now? We don't need to pay any attention to racial issues anymore!” when really, we still have a lot of racial issues to deal with.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:59PM
DAJB at 12:42AM, May 26, 2009
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As disgraceful as the attitude of the parents is, the number of kids (both black and white) saying they can't understand it, don't approve of it and actually want a single, integrated prom because they already have both black and white friends suggests that this kind of bigotry is on its last legs anyway. Even in Montgomery County!

Yes, it's shocking that this kind of ignorant nonsense still goes on, but even from the article itself it's clear that it won't for much longer.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
Jonko at 8:03AM, May 26, 2009
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Polkster
Honestly, if they're not hurting anybody, who the fuck cares? Those white kids are probably dicks anyway.

I actually think it sounds like both the black AND white kids were offended, although I can't tell from one article.

Another question I had about the article is whether this prom is separated into a “white prom” and a “minority prom” or if Hispanic, Asian, Native American, etc students get to choose which prom to go to? Either way this is all kind of lame, and I feel like I'm hearing about “Negro Day” on Hairspray or something, which was supposed to have taken place about 40 years ago! (bad example, but you see my point).
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
Puff_Of_Smoke at 8:41AM, May 26, 2009
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megan_rose
Puff_Of_Smoke
Ironic that your president is black, and there's still some residual racism towards black people within the very same country.


Oh man, just because we have a black president, doesn't mean racism is over. It just means the racist white people get to say “See? We have a black president now? We don't need to pay any attention to racial issues anymore!” when really, we still have a lot of racial issues to deal with.
I was merely stating that it was ironic. I never said it was over.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:56PM
bravo1102 at 9:25AM, May 26, 2009
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They have separate proms in New Jersey (Hispanic, black and white all kinds of mixtures)

However that doesn't fit in with the stereotypes of Racism in the US with the dumb Southerners and the oh so enlightened Northerners. Hispanic only proms are big in areas with large Hispanic populations. Indian only proms (ahem, dances celebrating their diverse culture) And a traditional Black only prom in Northern NJ, reported every year in the Star Ledger with one thing left out… no white faces seen (or wanted) anywhere.

It's a celebration of their culture. Just because the skin colors are different all of a sudden it's a big deal. Who gets all out of joint when there's an Italian-American only dance?

That doesn't fit in with the stereotype so it isn't reported.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
AwesomeUnicorn at 12:11PM, May 26, 2009
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I know that Skullbie referred to this already, but…they really make a point out of describing the black kids going to KFC and eating lots of fried chicken. I seriously thought the article was going to start adding in quotes about watermelon and rap music next.

Is adding the parts about KFC and fried chicken really necessary?
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:13AM
Aurora Moon at 1:45PM, May 26, 2009
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AwesomeUnicorn
I know that Skullbie referred to this already, but…they really make a point out of describing the black kids going to KFC and eating lots of fried chicken. I seriously thought the article was going to start adding in quotes about watermelon and rap music next.

Is adding the parts about KFC and fried chicken really necessary?


I noticed that too as well but I didn't say anything because, really, it sort of spoke for itself in terms of stupidity.

the article might had been written by somebody who weren't black, who thought it would be funny to add in that part… as if to say: “oh hey…the proms might had sounded racist here… but black people are like, different lololol maybe that's just the reason for this stuff happening? besides, here's my chance to make jokes about how different black people is!”

Never mind that white people love kfc, watermelon and rap music just as much as blacks do. :P so we're not that different at all….
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last edited on July 14, 2011 11:10AM
Orin J Master at 1:57PM, May 26, 2009
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AwesomeUnicorn
I know that Skullbie referred to this already, but…they really make a point out of describing the black kids going to KFC and eating lots of fried chicken. I seriously thought the article was going to start adding in quotes about watermelon and rap music next.

Is adding the parts about KFC and fried chicken really necessary?

not really. but who DOESN'T love fried chicken? well, the real stuff….KFC can continue to fester where it is. or better yet, leave.

the other black kid working there mopping was the perfect touch of “oh yeah, and the reporter's racist too!”
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
megan_rose at 7:45AM, May 27, 2009
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Puff_Of_Smoke
I was merely stating that it was ironic. I never said it was over.

I know, but there are a lot of other people who really see Obama being president as reason to start ignoring racial issues. (My reply was stemmed from your comment, but not to much TO you.)



Back to the subject at hand, one thing I'd like to bring up is the fact that these kids said they wanted an integrated prom, but didn't do anything to make that happen. So your parents won't pay for you to go to integrated prom? So what? Pay for it yourself! Some people are only for racial equality if it doesn't inconvenience them, like these kids.

Nothing is going to get better if people only say they want progress, and only do things in the name of that progress if it doesn't cost them anything or take too much effort.

If these kids actually truly wanted an integrated prom, they could have organized one themselves, and paid for it themselves. It involves some effort, but not a whole lot.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:59PM
Monstro at 8:01AM, May 27, 2009
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It's things like this that make me ashamed of being from the South.

bravo1102
dumb Southerners
I can't figure out if that was intended for insult or for sarcasm.

The KFC comment really wasn't neccesary. It almost makes the whole first part of the article null and void. If the kids were so confused as to why their prom was segregated, they should have done something to prevent it from happening that way in the first place. Actions speak louder than deer in headlights looks. It's honestly disgusting to know that people still hate others because of their skin color. Even if the idea of racism is dying out with the youth and the newer generations, there are still some people my age and younger who are still being taught to hate because of race. Honestly, it's not the kids fault, it's the parents fault. You have a racist parent, you have a racist child. On the other hand, some children do figure out it's complete bull and do think for themselves. those are truly shining lights in a dark world we live in.

As far as the Obama thing, having a half-black president in office caused somewhat of a disturbance where I live. There was nothing but comments on someone was going to take care of the situation, and it wouldn't be the black people. In a sense racism is over looked because of the election, in a sense and most definately it's not. Think of it this way, if racism was overlooked, I'd be able to get a scholarship for just being white.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:07PM
Dojo at 6:47PM, May 27, 2009
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Being in the diverse and accepting community that I am in, I look at this and am a bit shocked. It is true that tradition is hard to change. But this isn't tradition, this is division through race. Which is almost laughable to think that this still exists as strongly as it does. Having this separation can't be a good senior memory.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:13PM
isukun at 7:00AM, May 28, 2009
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Honestly, if they're not hurting anybody, who the fuck cares? Those white kids are probably dicks anyway.

How is it not hurting anybody? It reinforces old prejudices and encourages children to have the same views of race as their parents. It also forces kids to find dates of the same race, reinforcing this idea that a mixed relationship is somehow wrong. The article even claims that many of the kids do date outside their race, but have to hide it.

At least, on the positive side, if the majority of kids have the same attitude as the ones who were interviewed, I doubt we'll be seeing this trend continue into the next generation.

It's also not like this sort of thing is limited to the deep South, either. Northern prejudices often show themselves in different ways, but are just as bad, so it's not like the South is the only place struggling with racism.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:04PM
ipokino at 9:23AM, June 2, 2009
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I think the situation is sad. The kids themselves obviously think it sucks. The trouble is, the dances are arranged and set up by a bunch of bigots and their kids buy off on it because Mommy and Daddy control the $$$. As much outrage as I read here from you all…the fact is, you cannot legislate this phenomena away. People will and do have the right to associate as they will–even if that is within a racial divide. And racism–as evidenced by the New Jersey Article–cuts many different ways!

I also noted the bit about the KFC and chicken–but I didn't see that as stereotyping at all. I'm white, and I love KFC, watermelon, ect. In fact I have a black friend whose parents ordered her to never been seen in public eating chicken, or watermelon because it was ‘racial’ And Rocky loves KFC! So I think that bit was coincedental…though perhaps a bit tongue in cheek.

I do wonder if on the night of the Black Prom, a group of white kids went to the KFC to commiserate over the whole sordid thing–and…why wasn't THAT reported on?!?
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:02PM
Hakoshen at 10:46AM, June 2, 2009
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It's a somewhat different story here in central Louisiana. Given we live within an hour's distance from multiple military installations, there's a strong federal presence in the area, plus a lot of people with worldly views on life and society. Then again, there's also the fact that all of the proms are organized by the schoolboard, and if the minorities of one school were more or less “encouraged” to attend a separate prom there would be federal inspections going on by midnight. It's a different story with certain after parties, but that depends more on where it's held than who was invited.

Now we have plenty of little towns in the area, some so small they have no schools others with graduating classes of about 50 or so people, but the thing about those schools is the black population is less than 10%, so having the 10 black kids have their own prom would be a much bigger red flag. These same towns mind you, are part of a collective group of places where minorities “tradionally” don't go, or at the very least, you don't stop there (even though I've been to all of these places and came back just fine).

We have to consider that many of these parents were old enough to remember when segregation was legal, and they still have the mindsets they were raised with. If you grew up believing something, it takes a LOT to change you permenantly and completely, so even if they don't hate minorities per se, they still might be bigoted towards them, ie “tradition.” While everything is equal on paper and lot more kids have exposure to other ethnicities, allowing them to have a more unified view of humanity, it's not something that's going to go away even within a single generation.

As for the whole KFC bit… come on. Notice how they left out anyone else working at the place that might have taken away from their point? Like the white teen cleaning the bathroom for example? Or the white family enjoying their meal two tables over? The article almost invalidates its point by trying too hard to make it.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:41PM
tea_green at 11:39PM, June 3, 2009
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As a black woman, please let me take a moment to say “What the f**k?!”

I'm so stunned that I don't think I can properly express my outrage. I'm from Kentucky and was raised in North Carolina. In Kentucky, they tried the segregated prom thing and it was met with a combinations of protests and white kids sneaking into the black prom. Didn't happen the next year.

The fact is that we only got over the whole segregation and “Jim Crow” deal a mere 40 years ago. That's not long time. The fact that this still happens makes me a little more scared that the rules will revert to the way they were. Maybe I'm just paranoid.

It's not right but as somebody before me said, it's the people controlling the $$$ calling all the shots.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:08PM
Lord Shplane at 5:18AM, June 4, 2009
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Wow people are stupid.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:44PM
bravo1102 at 7:18AM, June 4, 2009
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Monstro
It's things like this that make me ashamed of being from the South.

bravo1102
dumb Southerners
I can't figure out if that was intended for insult or for sarcasm.


Sorry I thought the next part with the “Oh so smart Northerners” made it clear it was sarcasm. My family goes back four centuries in Virginia but I know that the state with one of the strongest wings of the KKK in the 1930s was New JerseyAnd why do so many white supremecists seem to come from the Midwest?

My point was that too many Americans think that the South somehow has the monopoly on racism.

I also love BBQ, fried chicken and watermelon. They're the staples the Southern diet. So in the 1920-30s during the Great Migration of blacks to the North they brought their native food with them and Northerners thought only blacks ate it.

Judge by the content of their character; not what they eat or their skin color.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
megan_rose at 9:15AM, June 4, 2009
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There's a very active KKK a few miles east of me, in Michigan. I see Confederate flags all over the place. The South certainly doesn't have a monopoly on this shit.

As far as the chicken thing goes, there's no stereotype that white people eat fried chicken and watermelon. There is a stereotype that black people do. The fact that the reporter devoted several graphs to a very irrelevant fact is not racist persay, but perpetuating a stereotype. As Hakoshen said,

Hakoshen
Notice how they left out anyone else working at the place that might have taken away from their point? Like the white teen cleaning the bathroom for example? Or the white family enjoying their meal two tables over?

There's the black kids who are the focus of the story, so yeah, mention them. But the black kid mopping? Had nothing to do with anything other than being a black kid in a fried chicken store.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:59PM
bravo1102 at 5:46AM, June 8, 2009
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I glossed over it because that's the “Local color” stuff journalists put in stories to punctuate things that are really ridiculous everywhere. When reading a story about the TLC (taxi-limosine commission) in NYC do I need to know the color of the cab driver on the ride over? Seems every taxi driver speaks Hindi when in fact many more are Pakistani?

Maybe when he stops to get a Slushie in NJ he has to mention the Indian Accent of the person in the Seven-eleven? I guess it's because of where I live. I'm so accustomed to pointing out stereotypical racial diversity and Local color I don't read it anymore? Enough is enough already. I just roll my eyes and read on. Should I care more? I don't know.

I know too many exceptions to care about stereotypes anymore but I don't notice them in news reports.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
humorman at 1:59PM, June 10, 2009
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:51PM

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