Oct. 24, 2002

HOME | NEWS | SPORTS | ENTERTAINMENT | CLASSIFIEDS | CARS | JOBS | REAL ESTATE | CUSTOMER SERVICE |

NEWS> STATE NEWS | NATIONAL/WORLD NEWS | OBITUARIES | BUSINESS | SCHOOLS | LIFE & FAMILY | OPINION | COMMUNITIES
CITIZEN-TIMES NEWSROOM

Submit a News Tip

Ethics Policy

Write a Letter to the Editor

FEEDBACK

E-mail the newsroom

Questions or Comments about CITIZEN-TIMES.com

 

 

All-white debutantes are free to gather as they wish

Sometime over the next 50 years, America will no longer experience all-white associations of any kinds: clubs, fraternities, sororities, benevolent groups, professional leagues, debutante brigades will inevitably become as extinct as the Dodo bird. That is because the white population in this country faces an irreversible decline.

The recently published 2000 census, for example, revealed the white segment of the nation's population dropping from 76 percent in 1990 to 69 percent in 2000. Therefore, the guest commentary "All-white debutante club surprising, sad in 2002," (AC-T, June 12), by Monroe Gilmour, will not need to be followed by a storming of the bastions of the 25 member Rhododendron Royal Brigade of Guards in order to effectively end its alleged institutional bigotry. Nature will do that for him.

I am wondering, however, if he or anyone else should really be contented by this? He says we should care about the Rhododendron debutantes because it is the little things that "cumulatively define and set the tone for our community."

Well, the Royal Brigade has existed for 70 years and during that 70 years has been an association which has brought young women together for social events harming no one, while harmonizing the lives of several dozen young women who would otherwise have spent their time more idly in disassociation. The Western North Carolina Citizens for an End to Institutional Bigotry, Gilmour's group, on the other hand, during its much shorter history, has used its energies to defame and tear down associations of individuals, leading to an increase of idleness, and possibly some degree of misery.

The First Amendment to the Constitution, the very first part of the original Bill of Rights ratified December 15, 1791, assured "Congress would make no law abridging the freedom speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble." This at once gives WNCCEIB the right to dissent, the Asheville Citizen-Times the right to publish that dissent, but also the Rhododendron Royal Brigade of Guards the right to assemble in whatever manner they desire, in so as that assembly is peaceable.

And there is no question, nor has the issue been raised elsewhere, that the Royal Brigade has been anything less than peaceful. So why would WNCCEIB be in the disagreeable business of challenging their right, the very foundation of which grants their own? For this, we must go beyond what was envisioned by the First Amendment. First, WNCCEIB laments the Rhododendron Royals are not open about their operations, the cost of participating, or their application process. But as the right to privacy is sacrosanct for the individual, so should it be for a private club. After all, such a club is made up of individuals, 25 in the case of the Rhododendrons, and if they wish only to display their yearbook photos, announce their coronation ball or issue a short news release in the Asheville Citizen-Times, where's the rub? In part, the rub resides in what WNCCEIB imagines.

For as WNCCEIB is wont to point out the debutantes' club is not open about its operations. They are obliged to make such statements as "it appears to be simply an expression of self-defined social status," and "There is apparently no opportunity for young women from lower income families or those of races, other than white, to participate." There is even the uncanny statement "The all-white make-up of the debutantes is not the result of participant's choice, as with many other organizations, but, it would seem, one of an ongoing fixed-in-stone tradition."

On these points, WNCCEIB is apparently guessing. This means they are making statements based not on solid fact, but on pre-conceived notions: notions of personal opinion and even prejudice.

They recognize, for example, the existence of an un-named, all-black Asheville sorority and yet glibly dismiss it as "quite different" on the pretext of its openness, unwilling to comprehend the fundamental truth of the description "historically all-black" (i.e., fixed-in-stone tradition). It is quite obvious WNCCEIB never obliged this black sorority to add a non-discriminatory clause to their bylaws or agree not to publicize their activities until changing the racial composition of their membership. Perhaps the fact these restrictions have been imposed on the Rhododendrons explains the lack of openness WNCCEIB uses as a pretext for bigotry?

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary (1986) defines a "bigot" as "one obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his own opinions and prejudices." While WNCCEIB has not made the case the Rhododendron debutantes hold any intolerant opinions or prejudices, the fact they regret the all-white make-up of the Rhododendrons, but not the historically all- black nature of an Asheville sorority or the "all-whatever" of any other ethnically composed group, conveys the definite impression WNCCEIB is guilty of what they so glibly accuse. Odd that such a group claims they seek an end to institutional bigotry. For rather than an end, they are indeed a continuance.

As to the Rhododendron Royal Brigade of Guards, I, for one, find their whiteness a refreshing form of diversity, and am therefore not offended by their yearbook photos or coronation ball. Because they have existed for 70 years as an association of young women who have done no harm, though possibly some good, and because they have a right to peaceably associate according to their preferences, I proclaim the all-white debutantes something both rare and welcome.

Ms. B. Fay Parks is a housewife and citizen-at-large, with an interest in women's affairs.


Back to WNCCEIB's Debutante Index Page

TOOLS: Back Email Print
 

 

 


 

HOME | NEWS | SPORTS | ENTERTAINMENT | CLASSIFIED | JOBS | REAL ESTATE | CUSTOMER SERVICE

2002 ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES
14 O.HENRY AVE., ASHEVILLE, NC 28801, PHONE: 828-252-5611
USE OF THIS SITE SIGNIFIES YOUR AGREEMENT TO THE TERMS OF SERVICE

THE ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES IS A GANNETT NEWSPAPER ALONG WITH USA TODAY.

USA Today     Gannett Foundation