Jim Crow practices may be dead, but old habits die harder in some places than others. Nowhere is that more obvious right now than St. Martinville, La., where a group of graduates from the local senior high school will have to sit out the after-game get-together during their upcoming reunion because, well, they’re black. An invitation for the September 21 shindig weaseled its way into the public eye and it clearly specifies, in parentheses, the color-coded list of events.
I can only guess it’s a white-only par-tay because invitees have been asked to bring food and refreshments… to share. And er’ybody knows no self-respecting bigot would even consider scooping a cup of punch or noshing on a plate of bacon-wrapped scallops that had also been brushed over by a darkie. Clutch the pearls and perish the thought.
Truth be told, the Class of 1973 just stopped hosting segregated reunions—after 40 years—so exclusive, white-only activities must be a transitional phase for party goers who need to take their doses of negro-mixing in smaller portions. Baby steps, baby steps.
But honestly, is this even an insult to the black people who are barred from attending by the most archaic set of standards to ever be printed on stock white paper? That you can’t slap on a name tag and obsess over an overpriced outfit to play nice with some awkward montage of people you can barely remember from the most obnoxious era of your life? Instead of acne and braces, there are receding hairlines and middle-age bloats. But clearly, someone didn’t outgrow their racism. If it was me, I would be more relieved than insulted. It’s an excuse not to go: “Sorry man, can’t be there. I’m black.” Score!
My high school experience was a tragic effort at folding seven black kids into a student body of more than 1,600 and let me tell you: they can send me a gold-plated invitation with diamond-studded stamps and I still would slam dunk that bad boy into the trash. They’re a little more incognito with their discrimination than St. Martinville, but it all boils down to the same. Ain’t nothing changed. I wish I would pay to go to a reunion and be blacklisted from events on the roster—literally.
If you were a black St. Martinville alum, would you attend the reunion?
Image via CarbonNYC/Flickr