In 2013, a Georgia high school held its first integrated prom.
That's right. White students and black students went to the same prom. Until this last weekend, all of the proms at the local high school were segregated: white students went to the white prom, black students went to the black prom, and nobody - no, nobody - crossed that line.
The nation, and really the civilized world, was stunned that this was still happening - that people were not only being treated differently based on race, but that it was being supported, and implicitly condoned, by a school district in America. How, we asked ourselves, was this still going on? The simple answer: nobody really questioned it. The school district "decided" not to hold prom, and the parents were left to their segregationist ways. Until this year, the community gave this division their full support. It goes to prove that in order for evil to thrive - or, in this case, bigotry - the only thing that has to happen is for good people to stay silent.
Here in Cleveland, we know a thing or two about community support of ignorant exclusion, and it's happening this Friday as part of Ingenuity Fest.
I just finished reading the entirely excellent article on Freemasonry and Ingenuity Fest by Frank Sandy in the Scene. To recap: Ingenuity Fest is holding an event at Halcyon Lodge in Ohio City. Halcyon, of course, is a Freemason temple, and as a Freemason temple, they don't let women in. You read that right: Ingenuity Fest is supporting a group that, as part of its core principles, excludes half of the world based on gender. Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot would all be allowed to apply; Jane Campbell, Mother Theresa and Aung San Suu Kyi would not, just because they don't have penises. Ignoring their long history of racism, which isn't a focus of this article, it's shocking to me that Ingenuity Fest would support this sort of organization with money and attention, particularly when there are so many other places in Cleveland at which this event could be held without this sort of controversy. I'm sure that they would never think to hold an event at, say, a KKK hall, or the headquarters of the American Nazi Party, no matter how beautiful the inside might be; to support an organization that symbolizes "No Girls Allowed" is just baffling.
So it is strange that a progressive organization like Ingenuity Fest would want to put money in their coffers and help them stay solvent. It is exceptionally odd that progressive people in the community would pay to support this sort of sexism. I mean, didn't anyone think this through? Didn't anyone question where the money was going, or the basic tenets of this group? Were they so blinded by the opportunity to see inside this windowless building that they decided to ignore their own principles and shell out the cash to support sexism - in 2013?!?
Apparently not. Apparently, for far too long, good people in Cleveland have been staying silent.
Stop holding events at Masonic halls. It is a disgrace that your otherwise fine institution would support this sort of blatant bigotry in the community, and a stain on our city that these sorts of organizations exist at all. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Meanwhile, the burgers at the Local Tavern are exceptional. They are tender, juicy, and they're all served with fresh-cut fries. What's more, they don't keep any group out based on whether you are a man or woman, black or white, gay or straight. If you have spare progressive dollars to spare, why not spend them at the Local Tavern? It is certainly a decision you can justify to your grandchildren.
“I see a man taking a break in his highly structured life, reading a newspaper in the park, or a young man sitting on a curb eating a sandwich and reading a book, taking the moment for himself. I celebrate these moments in bronze.” J. Steward Johnson, Jr.