Friday, August 27, 2010

Another Mississippi School Makes Headlines for Bigotry: Racially Segregated Student Council Positions

Another school in Mississippi is making the headlines for its bigotry. Earlier this year, a Mississippi school infamously told a lesbian student that she could not attend the school prom with her date. After the student sued the school, it canceled the prom. Facing national criticism and a lawsuit, the school resorted to trickery. It threw a sham prom for the lesbian and a few other students, while their classmates went to the real prom.

Now, another Mississippi school is making headlines for its bad behavior. MSNBC reports that Nettleton Middle School in Nettleton, Mississippi, has racially segregated the student council positions at the school. According to a memorandum that school officials distributed to students, only whites can run for the position of president. Only blacks can run for Vice President of the 8th grade class, while only whites can run for that position in 6th and 7th grade. The positions of "Secretary-Treasurer" and "Reporter" are similarly segregated. If this news is true, it proves, once again, that there are places in this country where the legal command of Equal Protection means nothing at all.

UPDATE: MSNBC reports that the school has invalidated the policy. Now, it will allow all students to run for the office they choose. Interestingly, school officials say that they rotate the races each year and use the policy to ensure minority representation. If this is the school's actual goal, it is legitimate. Nevertheless, it is carried out in a very bad manner. Furthermore, if black students cannot get elected without this policy, then it appears that white students, who outnumber blacks, are engaging in racialized voting (which exists even for adults). The students need lessons on tolerance, not division.


Hippi Chicki Niki said...

My first thought after reading about this on Gawker was, "So [my mixed-race friends] and my kids wouldn't get to run for anything?" Then I read that they count whatever race the mother is because in our minority homes, the father usually isn't around. So, my next thoughts were "I'm a minority and my father is the single parent. Does that mean I'm nothing?" and "One of my mixed-race friends' mother is Chinese so she can't run for anything?"

My favorite part of the Gawker article is the update they give about the responses they've received. "Some Mississippians have asked me to point out that two of the four administrators listed on the school website are black..." Is it just me, or is that the equivalent of "I'm not racist, I have a Black friend"?

Hippi Chicki Niki said...

My understanding, about the update part is that the policy had existed for over thirty years. This sounds like one of those situations where people do things the way they always did them an no one changes anything or critically thinks about the policies as time and society changes.

Lexy,or Guthrie said...
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