Students have junior prom theme changed after perceiving 'Southern Soiree' as racist
The theme of a Suffolk County high school's junior prom has been the cause of some controversy.
Southold High School decided on a "Southern Soiree" theme, which was to take place at a venue some say resembles a plantation.
Some students at the school associated the word plantation with racism and slavery so they started a campaign to change it.
The venue was the Royalton Estate in Mattituck.
A message to students, obtained by The Suffolk Times, describes the venue as having a "southern plantation vibe," and says the event would be "similar to a southern cotillion style ball. A cotillion is a fancy ball where elite southern young people are presented into society."
Some say the theme reminded them of slavery and big gowns, like in the movie "Gone With the Wind."
In 2020, HBO Max gave "Gone with the Wind" a warning label for glamorizing the old South and denying the harsh realities of slavery.
Celebrity chef Paula Deen also lost her TV show after organizing a southern plantation-style wedding for her brother.
A student from neighboring Greenport started a change.org petition entitled "Change Southold's Racist Theme."
Some say that reminds them of...
The school's principal sent a letter to parents and students, writing, "While attempting to clarify that prom attire should be formal, the Royalton Estate was referred to as a southern plantation. The word plantation could express a connotation of racism. This was neither the original spirit of the event's theme, nor is it a representation of Southold's community, school, facility, staff or our students."
Simon Mraz, a recent graduate of Southold High School, says his younger brother who is a senior at the school was "pretty upset" about it.
"It just felt like a misunderstand and a poor choice of wording," Mraz says
Simon Mraz is a recent graduate of Southold High School
The theme has been changed to what is being called, "An Evening at the Royalton."
Students also met with faculty Thursday to discuss how to learn from the events and go forward together.