A private pool in Philadelphia apparently didn't like the idea of black children swimming in their pool, even though these campers had already paid the enormous fee to use the pool.
More than 60 campers from Northeast Philadelphia were turned away from a private swim club and left to wonder if their race was the reason.
"I heard this lady, she was like, 'Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?' She's like, 'I'm scared they might do something to my child,'" said camper Dymire Baylor.[...]
"When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool," Horace Gibson, parent of a day camp child, wrote in an email. "The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately."
The next day the club told the camp director that the camp's membership was being suspended and their money would be refunded. [...]
The explanation they got was either dishearteningly honest or poorly worded.
"There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion ... and the atmosphere of the club," John Duesler, President of The Valley Swim Club said in a statement.
Video and more after the jump.
Perhaps it's apropos that I find this article the day that I traveled up to Chicago to take care of some business. This morning I hopped the MegaBus, Greyhound's new competition in the midwest and the east coast. It's about the same price and the bus stops in Indianapolis and Chicago are almost next door to each other. But I was surprised to see that about 40 people on the bus were white and only one person was black. On Greyhound, which I ride all the time, has almost an inverse ratio here in the midwest.
Which makes for some interesting Greyhound Bus stories. I'm usually one of the first on the bus, so if it gets filled up and people have to start sitting next to each other, guess how they pick which stranger to sit next to? Once the bus wasn't even full, it had about 7 people on it, and the only other white guy on the bus moved from the back to across the aisle from me and gave me a nod. It took me a good half-hour to realize what that meant, but, now that I think about it, it was rather clear.
Anyway, I got off the bus and hopped on the subway to head to the northside. The subway was pretty mixed, but as soon as the Red Line got north of the loop, there wasn't a single African-American person in the same packed car as me. It's something Alberto and I noticed when we visited the city's South Side last year on the subway - we were the only two on board after the loop who weren't African American.
(Just in case you think I'm prone to over-generalizations, I know that there are some African American people in the north side of Chicago, and some white people in the south. Don't read my observations as absolutes that hold true 100% of the time, but as illustrations of a bigger issue.)
The high school I went to had about 4000 students, 17 of whom, my graduating year, were of African descent. A close friend of mine in college showed me his high school year book from the Bay Area, and everyone looked Indian/Hispanic.
It seems like the private club's problem is that they're just a bit more honest than the rest of us. No, I'm not saying what they did was right, but how many of the rest of us live in racially segregated neighborhoods? How many went to effectively segregated schools growing up, even if they went to school in the 70's, 80's, or 90's? Why is that OK but this pool isn't?
Also wanted to highlight this sentence:
There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion ... and the atmosphere of the club.
The issue isn't one or two people crossing the color line. I'm sure they would have been OK with several African American campers or families in their club, or that at least they wouldn't have been so stupid as to say anything. But 60? Tokenism's alright, but the minute these sorts feel out-numbered, even by campers whose parents paid their way like everyone else, well, that's just a bit too far. The power dynamic changes and that makes some people do things that the rest of us look at and think are just plain stupid.
I hope the camp and the campers' parents are going to fight this and get the club shut down. At least then new ownership can buy it up and responsibly handle pool membership and keep the pool as open to everyone as it can be. Private businesses have a responsibility to be good members of the community just like the rest of us, and who knows how much damage to the campers' self-esteem this incident caused.
But let's not pretend like this is an isolated incident or that it's a bunch of racists nothing like us, just a few bad apples acting in a vacuum. Segregation, in many forms, is alive and well.