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Balls and beautillions, long a tradition of the marrying Black middle class in Maryland, carry on with a new purpose – Baltimore Sun – Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland 2022-05-26 11:02:22 –

Dr. Camille Hammond was proud to see his 17-year-old sons flocking to the ballroom on the Marriott Baltimore waterfront. This spring day was when Kai and Aaron completed the “beautification” process. At that time, for her, they became men.

“I feel like they’re a little older that night. I heard Hammond, a doctor in Reisterstown, say,” I’m a man now. “

The beauty of young men, such as the Cotillion and the debutante ball of young women, is a rite of passage that officially presents teens to society as adults. Many teens mark that milestone on graduation stages and school proms, but the Black Mary Landers group has its own tradition.

These events have been going on for generations, especially among the middle class and wealthy black families. They started as a way to introduce potential spouses to young people. They have evolved into a network of professionals and the building of long-lasting social circles, providing a way to connect black students who can feel isolated in suburban schools and private schools.

This process typically involves months of mentorship, dance lessons, etiquette classes, and service projects. For example, a beauty Hammond attended cost $ 1,000 per participant, and the process began in September.

Some students are in a bad mood, but almost all students advertise the benefits of the system. Aaron Hammond, a junior at Gerstell Academy in Finksberg, was worried about this process. He was particularly worried about learning some of the formal dances that took place during his beauty days.

“I was a kind of passive-aggressive. I think I was behaving that way-and dance was the most memorable part of the night,” he said. “If you do, I think it was worth it to experience all the pain of learning to dance, getting frustrated, and dancing with family and friends.”

While rooted in the South, Black Cotillion and Debutante Ball can be found nationwide, especially where there are active Black fraternities, sororities and other service-based social clubs.

For example, Hammond’s April 23 Beauty is Jack and Jill of America Inc, a group founded by black mothers in 1938 to bring together children for social and cultural affluence. Hosted by. June debutante ball Organized by the Baltimore County Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc., the country’s first black sorority.

According to Camille Hammond, Jack and Jill’s children usually attend private or suburban schools, which often lack diversity, and require these activities and traditions.

“I wanted them to connect with other children with similar backgrounds,” she said.

Growing up in Richmond, Virginia, through the Debutante process, Hammond wanted his children to experience it. She also wanted to see her offspring who were enrolled in Jack and Jill at the age of four. I was exposed to like-minded children who value black excellence.

Billions and hundreds of billions are still an important part of black society, according to Lin M. Selby, lifestyle expert and executive director at the Caroline Center, Baltimore’s education and career skills training program. She also teaches etiquette classes to black high school students and is a member of several black social and service organizations such as Delta Sigma Theta, The Links, and Incorporated.

“It enables young people to prepare for the corporate environment early on, how to learn proper etiquette, how to network, meet, and talk small stories,” she said.

“I know some people say these are’bourgeois blacks’. But it’s worth more, “says Selby. “It has evolved somewhat beyond the marriage of the arrangement.”

The origin of the Debutante ball was to promote future marriages, but current organizers and participants say the mission has evolved. Today, these events prepare people for the reality of the world, from how to interact safely with police officers to how to play golf.

“Now, in African-American culture, the goal of the Debutante Cotillion is to prepare you. [higher] Alana Younger, 17, a senior at the George Washington Carver Center for the Arts and Technology in Towson, said:

Alana will debut in early June with the Precious Pearl Debutante Cotillion thrown by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Upcilon Epsilon Omega chapter.

“I’m glad it changed. As a young woman, imposing the idea of ​​marriage on you sends the wrong message,” Alana said. “Education is one of the most important things to teach young women.”

Alana is impressed with the requirements for workshops and community services.

“They taught us a lot about navigating life after graduating from high school — we realized we were in the real world after this,” she said.

Alana, who plans to study nursing at Copin State University, also values ​​the connections she has made in the workshop and keeps in touch with the medical professionals she meets.

Kaihammond, a junior at the Carver Center, said the beauty “exceeded my expectations.”

“It’s important because everything around you is just black excellence. Everyone, whether athletics or academic, had a college scholarship,” he said.

Aaron Hammond said he would recommend this process to other students.

“Honestly, I want to be able to have an experience about being around other African Americans doing great things,” he said.

The most memorable part of Aaron’s process was the “Millionaire Manners” etiquette workshop.

“It was a great review of what our parents taught us,” he recalled.

Selby knows that some may criticize training for encouraging students to play good political games and follow white cultural practices.

“I have something to say about credibility. They aren’t asking them not to be their true self,” Selby said. “But there are still social norms. If you don’t believe it, you’ll be sadly misunderstood. Put your elbows on the table, swallow soup, and a law firm supper. Can’t go to. “

Alana enjoyed the process of meeting other Debutantes, but no one went to her school.

“I feel like I have a sister relationship and a bond,” she said. “It opened me to other lifestyles and other people, that is, people who are interested in some of the same things as me. Listening to them makes me more difficult. . “

Thinking about the future, Alana added:It changed my point of view [of things].. All of this is what teenagers need. “

Dr. Jason Hammond, the father of Kai and Aaron, appreciated the interaction his sons had with the other beauties.

“We were able to see their growth,” he said. “They have matured.”

Hammond, who had not gone through a beautiful process of growth, now recognizes its value.

“It was really shining,” said Hammond, a doctor like his wife.

Kai and Aaron’s sister, Simone Hammond, will join Cotillion in the fall. “The beauty made me more excited about the Cotillion. The community and environment aren’t as involved as I’d like,” Simone said.

Simone, a junior at Gerstell Academy, said he plans to expose his future sons and daughters to this process.

“It was a great experience,” she said. “I hope more black kids will hear about it and experience it. It will take a lot of time, but it’s worth it.”

Kelly Mason’s two sons, Jordan and Cole, went through a beautiful process. Initially she was more excited than they were, but eventually they realized the benefits.

“I knew this was the last time I spent with the child before they went to college,” said a Colombian resident. “They gladly did it, but reluctantly. In the end, you could see the group becoming more acceptable.”

On the night of the beauty, she knew that her eldest son, Jordan, was crazy about it.

“He seemed to have a lot of fun. I had never seen my boy dance,” she said.

For Mason, Jack, Jill, and Ball strengthened their children’s self-consciousness because they felt isolated, mostly in white spaces, especially in suburban schools.

“I think it’s a great place for your kids. We all want to expose them to the best they can do. My daughter wanted her hair to be blonde at the age of five. I remember, there were no other black girls around, “Mason said. Her daughter Brooke was later a beauty escort and now attends Spelman College, a historically black institution in Atlanta.

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The tradition of beauty was ultimately passed on to Mason’s children, who historically attended a black college.

“When they applied and visited, it was a completed deal. By putting them in that type of group, it was friendship that they also felt when they went to HBCU,” she explained.

Three of Cynthia Bell’s four children, whether beautiful or dance escorts, participated in the beauty. According to Bell, the president of Jack and Jill’s Colombian branch, her youngest will be attending next year. This chapter has hosted billions of people every other year since 1983, and 300 male teens have gone through that process.

“This is a great program that focuses on leadership, life and culture exposure, and philanthropy,” said a resident of Clarksville.

Bell added: You hear very bad things in the African-American community. This sheds positive light on what our subordinates are doing in the community. “

Camille Hammond pointed out the end result of the Debutante process. It is a guest of the entire ballroom, a politician, a doctor, a judge, and a university president.

“These are people in our community,” she said. “All these kids go to college. Their biggest concern is getting a C on the test. No matter what everyone else is doing, this is our reality. This is our reality. Should be celebrated. “

Balls and beautillions, long a tradition of the marrying Black middle class in Maryland, carry on with a new purpose – Baltimore Sun Source link Balls and beautillions, long a tradition of the marrying Black middle class in Maryland, carry on with a new purpose – Baltimore Sun

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