Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How Do You Spell Whites Only?: B-E-L-L-A



From a reader:

2016 in the "Land of the Free," right? Not only has the South displayed constant intolerance of homosexuality and oppression of African Americans, my town has a "Whites Only" club. Literal segregation in a public school. It's 1956 all over again.

The club is called Belleza Bella, or "Bella" as everyone refers to it. Bella replaced what had previously been "Vanity Club", which was an all-wealthy-white-female organization that would make new members do horrible and humiliating things (my grandmother ate a live bee) and claim them to be their "initiation". Bella is based on those same principles. If you aren't a white female willing to spend a nice thousand dollars or more a year, you cannot be in this club.

Recently Bella began allowing male students into the club, but of course only white males. This club has a strict "whites only policy." If you're African American, Asian, biracial, etc, you cannot be a member. The club claims no affiliation with the public school but only because of the Title IX policy which would make this club basically illegal. However, only students from one specific school can join and every white female in 8th grade from said school is invited to join. I once asked an older "officer" from the club why they didn't allow African American female students to join. Her answer was, "because they're ghetto and Bella is all about class".

Bella also does the destructive initiations. The new girls experience what the club calls "hell week". In this week, the majority freshman girls cannot wear makeup and have to wear ridiculous things such as pigtails and red lipstick as an attempt to make them feel embarrassed about their physical appearance.

Also on a random night, they come and literally destroy your house by putting shredded paper and hay all over (and I mean ALL OVER) your house inside an out: each and every inch of your home and yard and "kidnap" you at 3 AM. This is known as "rush."

This club is solely run on popularity of the white students of the school. You are literally voted out if too many members don't like you; teenage girls voting other teenage girls out of a teenage club. You are voted out if you attempt to date outside your own white race or attempt to bring anyone who isn't white into a club function. You are not allowed to discuss bringing other races into the club.

This club kills self-esteem. The worst part of all of this? Even our board of education knows and does nothing about it. It's a literal under-the-table segregated club at a public school in 2016!

It's been addressed to the head of our school system so many times and yet the club still stands. I'm sick of such an unfair club existing at the school I have to attend. It's 2016! We worked so hard to establish equal rights and this school can just ignore its wrongs.

Please don't let this voice go unheard. I cannot end this club on my own and no one in the town seems to care. The members of this club attack me over social media whenever I try to bring light to the subject, and the administration ignores my complaints. I want to see this club left in 1956 where it belongs.

*****

So what do we think of Bella? While it may be a private club, we have found that members and their "social work" are mentioned in yearbook credits. If anyone knows a good lawyer in Tuscumbia, we think this could easily be taken care of.

Will Bella now go underground? It's certainly possible. We'll add the same advice we've previously given students/parents concerning unfair conditions at local public schools. No one stays in high school forever; in a few years you or your child will be in college, the workforce, or the military. You won't be subjected to these unfair conditions forever. Of course you may find new ones wherever you go.

And those who make and enforce these unfair policies? They'll still be stuck in Podunk monitoring halls for a skirt that's a half-inch too short, any glimpse of underwear, or hair that's not a prescribed color. Doesn't that sound like an exciting life? Whatever it sounds like, it has nothing to do with learning...and that's extremely sad.

Now we'll give some advice to Bella members: If you think all black students come from the ghetto, if you think you're better than anyone because of your skin color, if you think a racially segregated club is pleasing to God...we certainly think you should remain a group unto yourself. We don't want you to rub off on any decent people in Tuscumbia.




43 comments:

  1. No where in Bella's by laws does it say that they are an only white organization. They do not "allow male members" there is a big brother program that has been in place since the organization was established. Also I am of strong mixed ethnicity and I not only was a member I served as an officer. Deshler High has absolutely nothing to do with Bellezza Bella therefore no matter how many go to them there is nothing that can be done by the board. Also I am by no mean popular in fact the majority of this town can't stand me so popularity is not an issue. There are girls that where let in strictly to boost their self confidence. Hell week is nothing they do not haze and nothing they do is illegal and honestly nothing happens to the girls if they choose not to do it, but most of them enjoy it because it's fun to be goofy with your sisters. Thank you

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    1. It would seem you and the reader who wrote to us agree that it is not a school sponsored club. That leads to my question as to why it's included in students' bios in the annual? One could just as well say that Jane Doe is a member of the Uptown Downstairs Benevolent Feline Baptist Committee, which may be wonderful, but has nothing to do with the school.

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    2. Lauren both your parents are white....

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    3. Actually, I'm Lauren's mom. Her biological father is Italian/German.

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    5. Unless we've missed a recent memo, both Germans and Italians are 99.99% Caucasian.

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    6. I suppose I left out that I am a member of the Echota Cherokee Indian Tribe. Unless I missed a recent memo, the American Indian is not considered Caucasian. However, the comment Lauren made was that she was of mixed ethnicity. I suppose your definition may be different but it is my understanding that ethnicity refers to cultural heritage, not the color of skin.

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    7. And if you read our June 22nd comment, you would see that is exactly what we said. We have no idea why your daughter brought up ethnicity when the subject was race.

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    8. Simply a misused word, however, anonymous stated that both of her parents are white. That is not the case. As the daughter of an American Indian she is not only of mixed ethnicity (as she has many cultural heritages) but of mixed race as well.

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    9. So if she's not white was is she a little tan? Still a white girl....

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    10. So she's white but not white? Slightly tan?

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    11. So, in your opinion, the only way you can be considered mixed race is if it is black and white? That is ridiculous.

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    12. Not only is that ridiculous but it is offensive not only to my race bUT all othere as well. Biracial, multiracial, mixed race, whatever you want to call it does not only apply to African American/Caucasian children. It applies to anyone that has one parent of one race and one parent of another race.

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    13. You aren't "another race" Lauren looks white both her parent appear white. You are probably .15 Indian. She's majority white..... Bella didn't say "oh I think Lauren is a seventh Indian better leave her out"

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    14. How dare you tell me that I'm not "another race"? I'm sure my ancestors would greatly disagree with you! You have no idea what my ancestry is nor do you have any idea what her "majority" is and I do not pretend to know yours. I highly doubt that you would make the same comments about a child of mixed African American/Caucasion race and I highly doubt their "majority" would be questioned. I very seriously doubt you would tell them they weren't "another race". Apparently you are not as open minded as you like to think you are but we will certainly have to agree to disagree. If you don't want to believe that I am American Indian that is certainly your right. It would be inaccurate, but it is certainly your right. I'm definitely finished with this discussion as my entire point was that it was stated that both her parents were white and that is inaccurate. I am a member of the Echota Cherokee Indian Tribe and my race is that of American Indian. I'm sorry that my skin tone isn't red enough for you. I'm proud of my ancestry as you should be of whatever your ancestry is. If I thought that you truly wanted to know then I would tell you my legal percentage. As I just think that you would use that for more comments that you would never dare say to anyone of African American/Caucasian ancestry then I will refrain. However, it is much, much more than that low number of .15.

      Have a great day and may God bless you! This discussion has truly been a pleasure!

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  2. What "bios" are you referring to? My mother is the yearbook advisor, and as far as I can tell, the only "bios" are senior ads. These students pay for ads, so I'm assuming they can very well put whatever the heck they want in their own ad.
    Also, feel free to friend me on Facebook to see what I really think of you and your slanderous articles Shoalanda. I do know some very good lawyers.

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  3. LOL, Grace Kennington...what exactly do you think a lawyer is going to do? This blog isn't about the yearbook. Also, Lauren Sims, I'm sure it doesn't have anything in the bylaws about it being "whites only" but give us some proof that there's EVER been a black girl invited to rush.

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  4. Also, ethnicity isn't a race. We could say we're of some very mixed ethnicity since we have both French and German ancestors. That doesn't make us any less white. Now if someone is of mixed race and was/is a member of Bella, we're sure the letter writer would like to hear from you.

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  5. I should have made it clear that I'm not defending Bella or the writer of the article, "Ms. McCrotch." My problem is with Shoalanda and the lies that SHE writes. She wrote the section that mentioned the yearbook, and she wrote lies about me and my family a few years ago. She asked if anyone knew a good lawyer if you need to go back and read her excerpt from the article. I was simply responding that, yes I did, but if needed, they would be used again her and the lies that she writes. Again, nothing to do with the part you wrote..... I mean, whoever it is that wrote it.
    LOL

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    1. You will note a search feature at the top left corner of this blog. Key in your name and nothing comes up. Were you living under another name at that time? If you weren't, then we've never written anything about you. Yes, we certainly see a great many lies here.

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  6. I think the most important issue here is why Bella doesn't allow black girls or biracial girls into their "social club." The Bellas and their mothers always seem to respond with how much community service the girls perform. No one is questioning what they do. The actual question is "Why are only white females from Deshler allowed to join?" Both the club and the school claim no affiliation, yet if you look on the Bella FB, it specifically says, "Deshler High School." The bios Shoalanda is referring to are the actual student bios where they're allowed to list what clubs they've been in for the previous four years. And yes, the girls list Bella (but again, no affiliation with the school). Another argument the Bellas combat with is, "Zuri is for only black girls." But again, their argument is invalid because Zuri is for ALL girls (although they have traditionally been black, all races are invited to join). They too perform HOURS of community service. One of the Bellas specifically said on FB, "I don't know why blacks aren't allowed to join. Our parents made that rule." Would you or wouldn't you agree that is a little bothersome?

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    1. Like I said, I'm not defending the club or writer. I'm only speaking about the lies that are written here. And there are no bios in the yearbook.

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    2. Whether paid for or not, the bios contain references to Bella. Can you honestly tell me that a bio would be published that listed a Junior KKK membership or a Neo-Nazi Youth party affiliation? We sincerely doubt it.

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  7. http://shoalandaspeaks.blogspot.com/2014/12/local-nepotism-in-government.html?m=1

    Here, I am the music teacher you wrote about. You implied nepotism. The superintendent was my aunt, not mother-in-law, but more importantly, she did not hire me... the previous superintendent (no relation) did. Lies, slander, posting before getting your facts straight, whatever you want to call it....

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    1. Here is a link to the blog that actually works: http://shoalandaspeaks.blogspot.com/2014/12/local-nepotism-in-government.html

      You will note that the item you referred to is one of two READER COMMENTS we published that day. We'll add that you have never before contacted us to refute the comment. It seems to have taken a reader's view on Bella for you to comment...not once, but several times.

      As always, we're happy to publish comments on any side of an issue that is legal and moral. Don't shoot the messenger. Again, we're curious why you've waited 18 months to request a correction...to put it nicely. We'll be happy to publish the correction tomorrow. Now, don't you feel better?

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  8. Yes of course I saw that. You still posted it in your article so as to imply nepotism without checking the facts. Now, legally you may be allowed to do that, but as a writer (or whatever you are), do you not feel obligated to write the truth? Shouldn't you always try to get your facts straight before publishing them for the world to see?
    Obviously, I did not care enough about it to say anything. I mean really, what would it matter anyway? I guess when I read this post and saw the lie about the yearbook, it struck a nerve because it makes my mother look bad as the yearbook advisor. Anyone who knows my mother, knows that she wouldn't allow things in the yearbook that aren't supposed to be there.
    After reading your comment, I am starting to get a sense of who you are as a person and realize that there is no point arguing with you. Do what you want and continue to be the trash journalist that this community knows you to be. You must be proud.

    You know what? I do feel better.

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    1. Note: There is NO LIE about the yearbook. As we said, even paid bios should be edited...at least we would think. Should we expect those KKKs and Neo-Nazis next year?

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    3. Do you pay for this site? Even if you don't, you seem to be able to write whatever you want.
      And if you take that as me saying that KKK and Neo-Nazi ads should be allowed, then you've missed the point.

      And, correct me if I'm wrong (because you've obviously looked through every page of the yearbook), but there is no mention of Bella in the yearbook at all.

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  9. Are you seriously comparing a teenage girl's club to the KKK and Neo-Nazis??? I am totally through with this! It's obvious that you aren't even aware of the truths. You are hearing one side of it and not even allowing anyone to oppose their view.

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    1. No, the point is that paid ads are edited, I would assume. There would be certain things not allowed, and again I would assume that non-school activities would not be allowed in a paid bio, even if they were worthwhile activities.

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    2. And please tell us how we have "not allowed" anyone else to "oppose their view." We have approximately 10 comments here supporting the Bella club. We have one unpublished comment due to it being it being libelous in nature. We do reserve the right to not publish comments with profanity, libelous statements, support of child sex or rape, support of other illegal activity.

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  10. Unknown -- please make us aware of these truths. Just note, no one CARES to hear more about the community service Bella provides when they don't allow black girls to help in said community service. Also, no one CARES about how they cleaned up the TVCC to be able to use it for their all-white event. But please, other than making excuses for why Bella is so "wonderful" because they teach girls how to "set tables properly," please enlighten us as to why the parents made the "no blacks allowed" rule. Better yet, since you know so much, maybe you could even toss out which parents made that rule so we can throw our pitchforks at them.

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  11. I always wondered what those girls were Talking about a club called Bella... It makes since now... Hum

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  12. I HAVE HAD IT WITH ALL OF THESE CRAZY ACCUSATIONS AND COMMENTS!!! My daughter is a member of Bellezza Bella and I am proud of her and all her accomplishments AND "Community Service". In saying that, I would like to address a few things that are in the "blog". First, $1,000.00 a year to be involved? WHATEVER! We do not spend anywhere near that amount. Male students in the club? They are big brothers and have always been involved in Bella. They are there to help in many things including the Community Service that you all are bashing! Destroy yards? What is the difference in that and rolling yards? Board of Education? They have nothing to do with it so leave them out of it! Whites only? I read a post on facebook today by a founding member and she stated that there have been whites, blacks, biracial and hispanic little sisters. Has anybody thought for a minute that if a girl (of any race) does not want to be in this club they are not by their choice?? And last but not least... You call yourself's decent people of Tuscumbia? But you are referring to these girls as KKK members?? THAT IS SHAMEFUL!!!

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    1. They're addressing membership - not "little sisters". You're further supporting their premise that there's the stench of perceived Aryan superiority coming through this club, whether or not you acknowledge it. --signed Annetta Cole

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  13. I went through the initiation and rush for Sub Deb for Sheffield... Then quit. It was dumb... And it did bother me that a friend of mine wasn't asked to join (she was a black female, who happened to be one of the school's top students). The whole Bella idea is stupid. If it's not open to good young women of all races, how is it considered right? You can't say "oh, they do charity work!" and expect that to make it ok. Good for you for speaking out. I was honestly wondering if I was the only one who thought all that horse crap was ridiculous. My daughters will NEVER be allowed to join any kind of club that is based on race, wealth, or any other superficial mumbo jumbo.

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  14. For starters, if I pay for a yearbook ad I feel I have the right to write whatever I want about my daughter as long as it isn't profane or disrespectful. It's my ad and I paid for it along with paying for the yearbook itself. Ads should not be edited to please others. Second, my daughter participated in Bella. The girls "destroyed" my yard and yanked my daughter out of bed. I was so angry I made cookies for them! I won't pretend to know the history of Bella b/c I dont. I do know there are girls in the club who live in $350k houses and girls who live in $70k houses. I also know my daughter helped to raise a lot of money for charities and was required to have a certain # of charitable hours to be able to stay in the club. Were there any people of color in Bella? No, but that doesn't mean my daughter was a racist. At least none of her many african american friends have never said anything to her about her being racist. I also don't think the deshler area is the only one around here with such clubs so why are they singled out? And why aren't the objectors forming their own club for anyone to join? If I were so upset of feeling left out of a club I'd just form my own.

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    1. We agree that school bios and paid bios are different. A paid bio can be misleading. Second, we've been told that mentions of the Bella club are not allowed in any paid bios. We were offered some to look through, but took the word of the person who gave us the info. If you have paid for an ad that mentions Bella, we would appreciate seeing it.

      No, we couldn't care less if the student describes themselves as a follower of Charles Manson, the whole point/question is allowing students to call Bella a "Deshler High Club."

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  15. I had to read this a few times to get the point of this. I really thought this was about why the members are all white rich kids but then I read a comment about why this group is allowed to be called a Deshler High Club. While I would agree that having an all white only club is wrong and shame on any person hiding the truth about a club that is based on race or "heritage" as many racist seem to say. I also find this whole excerpt to be a bit fuzzy on the exact point. You could have mentioned that this group is not supposed to be affiliated with the public school system yet is being published in the yearbook as if it were. And added more on that. However I must say you have hit the nerve of many and seem to be reaching a wide audience. Kudos to you and hopefully you will have a long successful career as a journalist. I know nothing of the Bellas or how they do things. I just wanted to state that I read this twice and still thought it was about a group of white girls in a club doing silly things and only recruiting other white girls.

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    1. Certainly the point of our letter writer was the racial bigotry found in this club. There's been some debate about it being mentioned in the Deshler annual, and we now believe that it has not been under the current advisors. Club members do refer to it as a "Deshler Club" in online bios.

      Since it is a private club, there's not much the Tuscumbia school admins can do about it. We have attempted to add that the school should do a better job making sure its name isn't connected in any social media to the Bella Club.

      Our personal opinion? We were totally surprised that something like this existed in this day and time...at least among educated individuals. Yet we know there will always be those to will flock to racist clubs, churches, etc. Tuscumbia parents need to educate their children about this club. If enough did, we believe it would soon be disbanded.

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  16. Okay, so (as an adult) you're basically calling an entire group of CHILDREN racist, snobby, and hateful. Many of these girls are gracious, well-rounded, kind young women. This is unfair and really ignorant on your part. Bella is basically a high school sorority or social club. It is exclusive from the school though, so there isn't much you can do about it since it receives no state or federal funding. You should consider fact checking as well. Guys are not allowed in the social club. Most of the girls in the club are middle class. $1,000 a year is pretty exaggerated. "Hell Week" is for fun and it's not emotionally or physically damaging to the young women. They have every right to say no without any repercussion. I'm not saying that they should exclude any race from participating in the club, because that's blatantly wrong. I don't think they purposefully do that though. Even if one person is responsible for doing so, dragging an entire group of young women with her is despicable. To attack a group of high school girls in a social club that bases its existence in community service, is pretty petty for a grown woman.

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  17. "You are voted out if you attempt to date outside your own white race or attempt to bring anyone who isn't white into a club function." this should be the rule everywhere

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