How the dream of going to the prom transformed a teen girl's life

by CynthiaYockey on April 9, 2010

Two themes came together for me in a post I just read by Afrocity celebrating the first birthday of her blog yesterday, April 8. One is the power of a dream to transform one’s life — the dream of going to the prom, the dream of marriage. I’ve been too emotional about the story of the lesbian teen who sued to attend her prom with her date to write about it, yet, but this post illustrates WHY THE PROM IS SUCH A BIG DEAL and worth going to court over.

The other theme Afrocity brings up was featured in a reply I wrote to a comment this morning asking how many black entrepreneurs, millionaires and billionaires never came to be because of the Great Society welfare system’s vision of blacks as helpless victims — and the viciousness with which it punished getting a job and working one’s way out of poverty.

Well, Afrocity wrote the most moving story of how the dream of going to the prom in a beautiful dress gave her the motivation she needed to get out of the welfare system that destroyed her mother’s life:

One of the reasons I am against government assistance is because I grew up on it. And yes, it fed me, kept me adequately healthy, but did it advance me or my mother? No. Did it pay for my prom dress? No. Prom was a big deal to a 17-year-old girl. How would the $250 government check pay for my prom gown, my hair appointment, my #352 pink-dyed shoes to match my dress and my jewelry? The answer was, it would not. Mother went looking for dresses at the Salvation Army store, meanwhile Afrocity began looking for a job. This image of one of us actually working was a bit much for my mother to handle, “you know they will cut us off,” she warned.

I did not care, I had a date with a Victor Costa gown at Nieman Marcus. School by day, working until 1am as a hostess at a Mexican restaurant was tough. In retrospect, it was dangerous to take the bus home so late at night. My school work was neglected B’s morphed into C’s. One night I was so tired, I fell asleep with the curling iron still rolled in my hair. When you are young, you can put up with a lot and my first paycheck made all of the trouble worth it. My first paycheck — that I earned for my work. Money not for nothing but for something I did besides being black and poor. I came to a particular understanding that my mother had yet to achieve. Welfare may let you survive but it doesn’t let you live. Maybe I got the job out of necessity. I had a need that a welfare check could not fulfill. I had a dream about a dress but what about my life beyond the dress? What happens when welfare will not pay for your dreams?

What happened to Afrocity is wonderful and you will feel blessed to meet her — go read the rest of the story and wish her every blessing always.

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  • Amy

    I’m eager to here your thoughts on this issue, and so will wait to give mine until you post on it (except to say that I expect we agree on the core issue, which is that Constance should have been allowed to bring her girl to prom).

    Afrocity’s post is amazing…she’s a powerful voice.

    • Amy,

      Dang, girlfriend! Now I have to finish the post! 😉 OK, I’ll have it up by Sunday afternoon. It’s going to include a photo of me circa 1968-69 dressed up for my first dance. Oh, yes — I bring the hawtness!

      Cynthia

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