Racism keeps kids from swimming at pool in Philly

Last week, over 60 black and Latino day campers were turned away from a swim club in Philadelphia because of complaints by white adult members of the club that, according to the club’s president John Duesler, “[A] lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.”
Community blogger zp27 beat us to the punch on this story, an absolute nightmare and truly telling to the stark reality of the racism and bigotry that exists in this country. The club is of course backtracking and saying that the issue wasn’t race, despite some of the kids overhearing racist complaints by the members of the club right before they were asked to leave and the club returned the $1,950 check Creative Steps Day Care had given them to use the pool.
The good news out of this is that the day care center has gotten tons of support from surrounding clubs and schools since, some who have offered their pools for the campers to use. But this doesn’t change the fact that these kids, as young as five years old, have already been told that they aren’t allowed to swim in a pool because of their race. It’s just unreal.
Shark Fu has a great piece up at Angry Black Bitch about this, as does Melissa Harris-Lacewell at the Nation. Go read them now.
A local video on the story after the jump.

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/video.

Join the Conversation

  • LalaReina

    We’ve been talking about this for a minute for a minute in different sites. It’s one of those “you’ve got to be kidding” moments, if it were Philadelphia Mississippi I wouldn’t have been as surprised. But like Melissa said you hate to see little kids have to encounter this so early in life. What do you say to them?

  • Anathema

    I tried to flag as much as possible but I couldnt get past page 3 without becoming insanly angry. I wish I could say I cant believe this could happen today, but our nation still has such a long way to go and this proves it. This is such a horrible event, and for it to happen to children..oh my god..

  • AnatomyFightSong

    I wonder if legal action can be taken against the club. It won’t undo the damage done, but it seems like the club needs to pay for this somehow. It’s awful.

  • Jos

    Here is a petition to the Valley Club put together by Color of Change: http://www.colorofchange.org/swim/

  • courtship dating

    This is shameful.

  • cattrack2

    In some ways I’m glad this happened in PA & not MS. It highlights how racism exists even in the North. (MLK said Chicago was the most racist city he had ever visited & many blacks today consider Boston to be the most racist city in the US).
    From a feel good perspective in the last 24 hours this has gotten attention from the US Senate, the state government & the NAACP. I chipped in my 2 cents of protest by writing the club. I feel good that the situation will be rectified.
    Every now & then we need a wake up call, even with Obama in office.

  • argon

    An issue like this has a silver lining: There is no question of its wrongness. No debate. No conservatives/FoxNews anchors trying to tell us it was all a “misunderstanding” or that the pool was just using a color-blind test on aptitude, or whatever their usual line is. No Drudge counter-story saying “but, but, but, the Dems do it too omg!!!1″
    Finally, an incident of racism so blatant, so bald, so honest, that it deprives the shadow-racists, those who try to express their racism with subtlety and plausible deniability, of any excuse. A stark reminder even they can’t deny, that racism of whites vs. POC still exists in all its Jim Crow harshness.
    Some say it’s shocking that this pool’s owners apparently thought they existed in 1950s Alabama… and it is shocking… but on the other hand, I kind of appreciate the honesty of their racism, stripped of all the usual conservative horseshit. The pool owners in one day cut through the shadow-racist talking points far better than a thousand civil-rights activists toiling for years could.

  • Kathleen6674

    I just wrote a loooong comment and this site wouldn’t post it because it had logged me out…
    I’m from Philly. Swim/pool clubs are routinely, typically, openly whites-only, or at least they were when I was growing up. My family belonged to one. The place allowed groups of kids in for the members’ kids’ birthday parties, but would turn nonwhite kids away at the door. Ask me how I know this.
    I’m 35. Looks like things haven’t changed all that much.

  • hoppipolla

    #041 Post-Racial America (a political cartoon)


    That’s absolutely true – Boston is the most racist city I’ve ever visited too!(Jena, Louisiana is a close second)
    Boston is the only place I’ve ever been where I literally had a Starbucks barista refuse to make eye contact with men – and toss my change on the counter so her pure White hands wouldn’t have to touch my Black hands.
    And, when I sat down at a table with an empty chair a White man actually stood up with his Sunday Boston Globe and drank his coffee standing up with his paper awkwardly in his free hand just so he wouldn’t have to sit with an African American!
    So I’m not surprised by the in-your-face racism in the Philadelphia suburbs – not surprised at all!


    I meant “refuse to make eye contact with ME”

  • Shaniquequa

    That is fucked up on so many levels. But sadly, many people in the world are still like that. I have seen older white people look down on black/Hispanic teenagers and kids and I’ve even had successful middle class white women clutch their bags when i sit next to them on the bus. I have to go through racism like that at my high school which is mostly white and mostly middle and upper middle class. It’s sad that kids that young have to listen to that type of racism. At least at 17, I know better not to believe and feed into racism but a kid can’t really comprehend that well that the person who is being racial towards them is probably ignorant. Kids shouldn’t go through that especially in 2009 on top of that.

  • utilitytester

    This is a test

  • rdingizsxy

    How is this different from “black” universities that do not accept white students for attendance? I live in Atlanta, and Spellman is one of the best universities here for female biology majors. However, I cannot attend Spellman University because I am white. Rascism is a two-way street, and I think we would all do well to keep that in mind. And before anyone makes the argument that black colleges are necessary because of the educational disparity between blacks and whites, I would like to point out that Affirmative Action laws have leveled the field.

  • Peepers

    It seems pretty generous for people to take the time to point out how, from a lot of people’s perspectives, this incident is not all that shocking-as-in-surprising. The thing about privilege is you don’t always know that you get to be in the pool this summer just ’cause you’re one of the White kids.
    This incident fills me with rage and sorrow.

  • robertscarpino

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  • robertscarpino

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  • robertscarpino

    In the early 1920’s Women fought for their freedom, They won and now are equal to man, but in alot of place man are still getting paid more and getting better opportunities but also there are jobs out there just for women. You rarely see or read about these cases on the news or online news, but when a white person says or denies a black person then we hear it none stop, why is this? Obama ran with the saying, its time for a change, well yes we should change. We need to go by this saying, UNITED WE STAND, DEVIDED WE FALL, this is proven fact, look at the vietnam conflict(war) many people protest this, while others fighting for civil rights, well we were in three wars and peoples consideration was some where else then the war it self. we all should have equal rights, let the better man win, not by the color. Let me ask you this and I’m done, say there is a company that had 9 people and 1 opening 5 white and 4 black and well it came down to two people, one black and one white, so they tested the two to see who was the best, the white person got 100% and the black got 95%, so the white person got a better score, and was hired, but the black person threw up racism charges saying that the company was unfair cause 6 white and 4 black,so the company chooses the black guy so they dont get sued, is this right, especially with this economy? in my opinion the white person won fair and square but he gets penalizes because he is white. WE ALL SHOULD BE EQUAL AND PEOPLE SHOULD STOP USING THE WORD RACISM.

  • robertscarpino

    the website mention by Jos, http://www.colorofchange.org/swim/ states this
    “Sixty-five children from a largely Black summer camp in Philadelphia were turned away from a swimming club in the suburbs because of their race.”
    to me this camp is racist, because this cam is a black camp. also I would like to point out, February is black history month, to celebrate all the famous black people.
    well im happy for this, but what about all the famous white people, like the ones that helped get where we are today, just a couple to name, Albert Einstien, Thomas Edison or General William Travis? Alot of people don’t know what travis did.
    so we all need to be equal.

  • Shaniquequa

    How can the camp be a black camp when there were latino children as well? If anything it’s a mostly black camp, that doesn’t mean they don’t accept other races, it just means most of their kids are minorities.
    And the reason there is no white history month is because we learn about white people all through the year.

  • robertscarpino

    or what about a native ameriecan month?

  • robertscarpino

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  • Diana