Prom sendoffs… a Black cultural celebratory phenomenon during the graduation season that is full of pageantry, flash, and grandiose fashion, photo shoots, dancing, and well… celebrating the accomplishments of the child.
See Instagram video here.
That video is by far my favorite prom sendoff ever. However, I was both elated and disturbed at the commentary of mostly Black posters… who praised their creativity and then denigrated them for all the pomp and circumstance at a “trap house” with broken steps. I find it sad that we sit in judgment of each other based on our assumptions about the financial cost and financial sacrifice parents make for kids who “probably didn’t graduate” or “can’t count as high as all that stuff costs.” Who cares how others see us when we see ourselves in such marginalized and negative ways.
This year we see even more red carpets, photo backdrops, expensive cars and clothes…a big difference from the 90s Jessica McClintock dresses and President Tuxedo rentals. Kids are in Maseratis, in custom tuxedos, and damn near bridal gowns. That might not be my bag, but those aren’t my kids. I didn’t have to sit in frustration with them and homework. I didn’t have to help them overcome learning disorders or family curses. I don’t know their story. Yet, it seems like everyone has an opinion on how people should spend their money on their children. Well just be prepared, cuz in four years, my kid will be crispy AF…
Ok so 2023 crispy, not 1967 crispy… but you get my point. He might get dancers, I like dancers. We might do a whole Coming to America Remember the Time production. He’ll probably be in bespoke. He’ll likely have on shoes that cost more than any you own. His shoe game now is bananas. He’ll be graduating and going to college on someone else’s dime, trust… so he can have that and more.
Don’t count my money, and perhaps you won’t be so mad.
I’m good over here. My credit score and tax bracket are my own business, but if I’m not asking you for Go Fund Me to help my cause, don’t concern yourself with what I do. I will do WHATEVER I want when I celebrate my kid. And be clear, a celebration is in order. What money I spend, car I rent, the price of the shoes I buy are not an indictment upon your inability or decision not to… it’s my choice. I happen to think someone graduating high school is as, if not more, worthy of a big celebration than a wedding… that’s just me. Other people spend $1000 on a wedding cake… that’s them. Whether you didn’t go to prom, nobody ever did anything extravagant for you, or if you feel like other people’s fancy will out fancy you… those are issues you need to come to personal terms with. But again, you can’t dictate what other people do with their children.
You have a right to your opinion… but your opinion is not facts.
Here are the facts. Black traditions are rooted in our African ancestry. Celebration is in our blood. Holidays, remembrances, harvests, spiritual festivals, praise of the Gods… Felabration in Nigeria, Chale Wote in Ghana, Harare International Festival in Zimbabwe, Timkat in Ethiopia… Africa is a continent of music, dance, food, and praise. Birth, adulthood, marriage, childbirth, death and everything in between has a ritual and an after party. You think a glittery dress and Louboutins are fancy…
… we got fancy in our bloodline. We are extra by God’s design. We put on for our city, our people, our kids, THE CULTURE. African and Black traditions and culture are the most appropriated in the world, yet we are the most subjugated people in history. We can see the affects of that subjugation in the way we sit in judgment when others of us celebrate in grand style.
From slavery, genocide, Jim Crow, Emmett Till, the 16th Street Church bombing, ’67 Detroit riots, and MOVE bombing, to the Central Park Five, Trayvon Martin, Khalief Browder, and Tamir Rice… Black people have been conditioned by American values to believe we have no value. They lied to you. They tried to erase our history from your mind. They tried to tell you that being Black is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being invisible and unimportant. They made them jump the broom quietly in the woods. They wouldn’t let us read. School was a foreign notion. Well now we get to jump the broom in whatever way we want. We can buy books. We can get degrees. We can celebrate. We are worthy of celebration and grandness.
My grandparents graduated college. My mom and aunt got Master’s degrees. I have a doctorate. My brown hued Black child graduating from high school, with good grades, mentally and emotionally healthy, and his life intact is definitely something to celebrate… because he is being groomed to be better than all of us who came before him. This will be just the start of a lifetime celebration. So many mothers don’t get to send their Black sons off to prom. Korey Wise and Yusuf Salaam were in prison while their peers got fitted for prom tuxedos. Trayvon Martin didn’t get to take a pretty girl to prom and dress up. Be mad at that.
My child will be celebrated, he will know he and his life are worthy of rejoicing. He will get to, for one moment in time, of hopefully many more moments to come, be honored for his accomplishments in grand style. He knows no suffering, neither much do I, but I know my deep dark chocolate great great Grandmother who bore a child that could have easily passed as White, saw plenty. In her honor, we will celebrate as big and loud as we can. Be mad… no one cares.
High school graduation is still an accomplishment. Everyone doesn’t go to college. Everyone doesn’t get a doctorate. The child who goes on to learn a trade, enters the military, or goes to work is still as worthy of being celebrated as the kid with a full scholarship to Harvard or Howard. Life is precious. It is to be celebrated. I will celebrate my way, you celebrate yours… but your opinions are your own. And when my kid is shining, say congrats and keep it moving. Do recall, I’m a savage about mine.
Besides, everything they say about minding your own business, does indeed get you closer to the money…