Inviting any person of color to party like it’s any time before the 1980s (I’m being super-generous here) is less of an invitation and more of a threat. It’s not really even safe to party as a person of color in 2018. Yet, somehow, educators and prom organizers at Cherry Hill High School East in New Jersey thought it was a grand idea to urge students to “party like it’s 1776,” causing extreme discomfort and a lot of complaints.
Because, you know, 1776 really wasn’t nearly a party for everyone, what with slavery and other systemic injustices being the accepted law of the land.
Cherry Hill High School East Principal Dennis Perry has since apologized for the “insensitive” language that was on the tickets, noting that “not all communities can celebrate what life was like in 1776,” the Courier Post notes.
“I am writing to apologize for the hurt feelings this reference caused for members of our school family,” Perry wrote in a letter to the school community Friday. “I especially apologize to our African-American students, who I have let down by not initially recognizing the inappropriateness of this wording.”
Perry noted that all promgoers would get commemorative tickets without the problematic slogan. Perry also promised that the school would make changes “to produce well-thought-out, appropriate communications.”
This is not the first time Cherry Hill has been caught up in controversy. It created an uproar last year when the school staged a Ragtime musical that included the n-word, as the Post notes.
Danny Elmore, a vice president of the Cherry Hill African American Civic Association, said that incidents like these occur because minorities are left out of the decision-making process.
“We lose out when we do not know who our neighbor is,” Elmore said. “Talk about it with people before you take an action, and we won’t have this happen.”
Lloyd Henderson, president of the Camden County NAACP East chapter, slammed the tickets as “another example that the culture at Cherry Hill East is one where the African-American students’ needs are not considered along with the rest of the school.”
Both men, however, did praise Perry’s swift action regarding this particular incident. In the note, Perry promised that the school would make changes “to ensure that a diverse group of people view all information before it is distributed from the school.”
Students will not be required to show their tickets to enter prom.
“We have a record of who purchased tickets,” his letter read. “A name will be sufficient upon arrival.”