For most seniors, prom is one of the most important nights of high school. Ever since they were little, they have seen prom portrayed in movies as a fantasy, complete with a packed venue and a DJ who plays all the right tune. The planning is left to the prom committee, a group of seniors who volunteered last spring to handle everything from choosing a photographer to picking out the decorations.
“I joined prom committee because so far I’ve gone to two separate proms, and they were not fun,” said senior Abigail Dahlstrom.
Reasons for joining the planning committee vary for each member, but Jayla Nickens is doing it for her culture.
“I felt like there isn’t a large representation of African Americans in the senior class on things like ASB, so I wanted to make sure my culture was represented,” she said.
Senior Kai Prim agreed. On a recent Instagram post, Prim complained about the prom being “Asian.”
“I’m being told that the Asians of Cleveland are trying to serve prom, and what they serve I’m not eating,” the post read. Prim also used the phrase “making prom Asian,” but what does that mean to him?
“Black culture and Asian culture are two separate things,” Prim said. “I, along with many other black students in this community, feel like no event at Cleveland embraces our culture.”
The committee is made up of four people: one African American, one White and two Asians.
“There isn’t a specific culture that we’re aiming to represent,” said Elisia Son, one of the two Asians on committee. “We just want to make prom fun for everybody.”
One of the loudest complaints already lobbed is in regard to the DJs.
“I was told [the Asians on the prom committee] are trying to get two white DJs. We need more black representation to sway the decision on things like the DJ,” said Prim.
Son offered a rebuttal to the complaint, saying that one specific race isn’t listening to on specific type of genre.
“We are all young and we all have similar music taste, and even the people with different music taste can request music so we all can be represented,” she said.
In September, statistics showed Cleveland had 88 Asian students and 68 African Americans. Both groups make up the majority of the school’s population.
“There is a fear that since Asians are the biggest population here that if anyone else runs for anything they will lose, because we believe Asians will vote for Asians,” said Nickens.
Son takes issues with the notion that Asians are “ruining prom.”
“It’s upsetting that Asians are being almost put down because of what they heard prom is going to be like,” she said.
With the event just three months away, the prom planning committee is kicking into high gear. The venue is set and decorations have been ordered. Despite his complaints about the planning, Prim maintains that having a diverse committee is necessary.
“Having multiple cultures isn’t a bad thing,” he said. “But I personally see everyone as equal so everyone’s culture needs to be represented equally.”