Why Are There Dissertations About How Black Teens Celebrate Prom?

More Black joy and less judgement please

Prom season is here, and Gen Z’ers are going all out. It’s no secret that prom has evolved over the years, but who said the next generation has to water down their special day? The star studded inspired rollout is deserved and shouldn’t be questioned, yet here we are.

From the classic red carpet to a full-blown stage, 2023 promgoers have taken it up a notch to showcase their vision for the memorable moment in their high school career. Unfortunately, the internet won’t let them enjoy their biggest highlight of senior year.

Read ’13 Prom Dress Styles That’ll Make Your Look Stand Out’

Why was it a massive issue this year about how Black teens celebrate prom? From the online discourse, we see the main problem: respectability politics.

Since the beginning, anything outside the norm has been considered tacky, especially for those growing up in marginalized communities.

Many social media users in the comments have used phrases like these teenagers are “doing too much,” or it seems this send-off is a “waste of money,” but what if these students didn’t get their dream sweet 16 parties or homecoming send-off? Prom could serve as a symbol for teenagers to finally have that glam moment they’ve dreamed about.

“I pray this tacky, overdone prom trend is over by the time mine are ready,” said Real Housewives of Potomac star Candiace Dillard Bassett. “We not doing this. They look nice, though.”

Read ’20 Fashion Forward Prom Accessories To Give Your Dress A Boost’

The at-home critiques are oblivious nor understanding that these students, now juniors and seniors, endured a life-changing event during the pandemic.

Their sense of normalcy was ripped away in 2020, so of course, they want to make these significant moments count after being failed by the system repeatedly.

Read ’15 Prom Dresses To Snag Before The Big Day’

The reality is, that Gen Z is responsible for the “main character movement” that’s trending across generations and will execute their creativity to the best of their ability. What’s the point of working so hard during the school year and not being able to enjoying an extravagant send off to kick off an unforgettable night?

These students have been through and seen a lot through the lens of social media and deserve to be present through a moment of joy and happiness.

Throughout the years, especially post-pandemic, intergenerational bonding has been the main topic of conversation. It is important that we as a community continue to encourage each other to stand out and take up space rather than dim their light in order to blend in.

About Kenyatta: Clark Atlanta University and Medill School alumna Kenyatta Victoria is the Girls United writer covering everything from news, pop culture, lifestyle, and investigative stories. When not reporting, she’s diving deep into her curated playlists or binging her favorite comfort shows.

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