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At Central High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, a Friday night in autumn means a football stadium bathed in lights and two teams battling it out on the gridiron in front of a sea of red and black -- everyone decked out in support of the home team, the Bobcats. It's what our school revolves around," said Seth Armstrong, a recent Central High graduate who played for the team. Out in front of the crowd, the marching band and cheerleaders keep the energy high, and in the fall ofthere was a new face on the cheerleading squad — a spirited year-old freshman named Emma Walker.

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They just assumed. I am sorry to say I missed the comment stating the Debutantes must be white. You should see my great looking niece and nephew!

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Seems Jim handled this with a positive approach. Apparently not. I applaud Jim and Phyllis for handling this in a dignified manner and I am not surprised given who they are. Barry and I had a similar discussion after reading the Sentinel story yesterday.

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Jim and Phyllis Nichols at a Moxley Carmichael event. I think mixed race people are the most attractive. Looking back on the two hours we were there, I realized that the only two comments anyone made to Jim the entire evening were based on the assumption that he was part of the entertainment. Assuming that the News Sentinel story is accurate in its details, there is no excuse in for such idiotic blindness to the diversity that enriches us all. As the proud grandmother of a beautiful bi-racial grandchild, I have also witnessed hurtful actions. But Sunday was a wake-up call about how far we still have to go.

I remember going out to eat with my brother and his African-American wife about 15 years ago. There was one big difference.

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I have a theory. And infuriating. We waited an excruciatingly long time to be waited on and received bad service when someone finely relented and came to our table.

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No sooner had the four of us gotten our wine and settled into a couch and chairs around the coffee table than an older woman approached us and introduced herself. Black people have more rhythm and are better athletes.

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Cynthia: Thank you for bringing attention to the continued racial bias that exists in Knoxville. To be fair to the attendees at the awesome event. Can you say Halle Berry? I wish it was not this way, but unfortunately we are all guilty of making assumptions about people based upon appearances, where they come from, or how they dress, etc.

This debutante thing is embarrassing. I thought we were better than this as a community. If the morning newspaper article were not bad enough yesterday, things hit a lot closer to home later in the day. There is always room for improvement in our day to day relations with each other.

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The hostess and most everyone at the event were very welcoming. I really thought we in Knoxville were making progress on this racism thing. And the civic clubs opened up shortly after the story ran. It takes a lot of the prestige out of the experience, if you ask me. I was embarrassed for our city. Pam: You really do have a beautiful grandchild. Cynthia, you demonstrate great courage and integrity in writing this blog as some of your readers will question why you did it.

We are all diminished when any civic enterprise enshrines and perpetuates discrimination, even perhaps especially when segregation on the basis of race is sanctioned by years of thoughtless precedent. The thickheaded need to think. No one even asked him what he did for a living. We have come so far and still have so far to go. Cynthia, kudos to you and the Blue Streak for calling out the Dogwood Ball for the sort of institutional racism I naively thought was ancient history.

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We invited our friends Phyllis and Jim Nichols to go with us. Having grown up in Southern California, I have always been accustomed to having exposure to different cultures from all over the world. Knoxville is for us all! Preach it, Cynthia! I commend Jim Nichols for showing class and grace. Not only is it wrong and shortchanges the debs themselves by not giving them the opportunity to get to know a diverse group of women, but it looks awful to anyone from outside our community who may be considering moving here or even bringing a business here.

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He seemed disheartened rather than upset. That is sad. The shame of it all is that they have to make this accommodation in this day and age. Just a sad statement on our society…maybe this discussion will spur some change. The HOLA festival brought it home to me….

Gina: You are absolutely correct. We did the same, making amiable chit-chat. Laura: I think the fact that the head of the Dogwood debs event flat out said that really cheapens the experience of the young women who have been through the process. People from the north have a smart mouth, people from the south are ignorant. Before heading home, we asked the Nichols to us for a drink at a restaurant because I wanted to see how Jim really felt about what happened.

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Trent says she does not see a problem with the event being segregated. Jim chuckled and shrugged it off, but I was stunned. I have to think that inviting young women of diverse backgrounds to be Dogwood debs would really help break through some of those mistaken assumptions. They are African American.

Laws have changed, but hearts and minds must follow. When will it end? I think Jim handled it with a reed approach to the ignorance he has to face. Held on the same night in March, one featured all African-American young women and the other featured all white women.

Just pointing out that we still have a long way to go in our town. They are oblivious to it. Even stuffy old Cherokee Country Club has changed its policy. Changes in attitudes and world views on these and other subjects of discrimination often take generations.

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Those are only a few, older Knoxvillians…. While Jim was standing outside a local country club after an event recently, someone handed him their valet ticket, thinking he was there to go get their car.

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I jumped in and explained that Jim was our guest and, after a little bit of awkward small talk, she moved on. I am stunned that the Dogwood debs quote made it to print — and even more so that someone actually said it. I will say that things seem to have improved considerably since then, but as your blog points out we still have far to go. Then, unbelievably, she asked Jim what he played.

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Thank you for bringing this to the attention of us all. They also must be white. I have to admit I am disappointed and a little depressed. He is neither a waiter nor a valet nor a musician. And I agree with your comment about mixed race people being the most attractive. I mean, nobody assumed Alan was there as a performer rather than a guest.