Swim Club Racism in Philly?
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.
So, a kid claims “some lady” was wondering about the presence of black kids at a private club that, one gathers, tended to not normally have large numbers of black kids?
“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.”
So, the white kids reflexively exited the pool en masse? Because they’ve never seen black kids before? In Philly?
And pool attendants — in 2009 Philadelphia — not only carried out a policy of excluding blacks from the club but had the incredibly poor judgment to tell the blacks that that’s what they were doing?!
Well . . . maybe:
“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.
Now, frankly, if I’m paying for membership in a private club so that I can take my kids swimming in peace, I don’t want said club to sell season passes to large groups of non-members. Not only does that make the pool more crowded but it rather diminishes the “club” aspect of the experience. Typically, members are vetted and recommended by other members; having a busload of kids coming in from outside the community makes it, in essence, a public pool.
That may be all Duesler is saying. If so, however, the use of the word “complexion” was exceedingly unfortunate. Especially since, if this screencap is accurate, the club does have a rather light complexion.
Of course, it would be nice to have a link to Duesler’s full statement. (Valley Swim Club’s site is currently down.)
Interestingly, Ed Morrissey says there’s only one listing in the Philadelphia directory for a John Duesler: “the man who ran the O-Positive Obama campaign blood drive in Philly before Barack Obama’s inauguration.” If this is indeed the same guy, it would seemingly suggest that either 1) Duesler is not a racist or 2) he’s very confused.
Apparently, this incident occurred several days ago, so it’s not exactly breaking news even though the report came out just yesterday. It would have been better to hold off reporting this another day or two to get more facts (which, I’m given to understand, is what reporters did back in the old days). Were I the city desk editor, for example, I’d have asked the reporter to find out 1) what the racial composition of the club is; 2) whether similar incidents have occurred in the past; and 3) whether this sort of thing is common in Northeast Philadelphia or it’s contained in one club. Perhaps she could try to find out who was at the pool that day and get some quotes from some of the members. And, certainly, I’d have her follow up with Duesler to see if he’d dig himself any deeper or offer a plausible explanation. And find out if he’s the O-Positive guy.