Thursday, July 9, 2009

Allegations of Racism in Philadelphia Swim Club Controversy

Well, at least James Joyner's consistent. He's got a post up on the controversy in Philiadelphia over allegations of racism, "Swim Club Racism in Philly?" Joyner's introduction is worth quoting at length:

A rather thinly sourced piece in the Philadelphia News alleging racism at a private swim club is getting quite a bit of attention.

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.

Yet Joyner's views are consistent, as noted. In June, he hammered critics of Sonia Sotomayor, who had attacked the judge for her membership in an all-women's social club, "Sotomayor Quits Women’s Club." (See also, the Wall Street Journal, "Court Nominee Sotomayor Quits Women-Only Group").

The question for Joyner is how identity politics creates its own vicious loop of discrimination and recrimination. There should be no place for any of this in a colorblind society.

Interestingly, today's lead editorial at the Los Angeles Times' attacks conservatives for their alleged indifference to the "continuing realities" of discrimination in the country today. "
In the Struggle Against Racism, We Haven't Overcome Yet":
As many conservatives see it, we're living in a chastened, post-racial America in which discrimination has been largely dismantled, Jim Crow is dead and gaps are being narrowed. With a growing black and Latino middle class -- not to mention a "beiging" of America thanks to intermarriage -- it's time to end our obsession with righting the wrongs of the past. More specifically, we should do away with morally troublesome policies such as affirmative action, minority set-asides and "pre-clearance" that aid minority groups at the expense of the majority, and revert, instead, to the sounder principle of colorblind justice for all.
Well, yes ... absolutely. Unfortunately, the Times' board goes on to decry (phantom) "de facto" segregation and then concludes with lame arguments for race conscious equal protection, saying "it's not so clear that the battle is over."

So what to say about the Philly case? Sorry to Mr. Joyner, but this is inexcusable bigotry. Folks can't be quoted on the record with worries about "changing the complexion" of the neighborhood pool. Public, private ... it doesn't matter. This smacks of racial insensitivity, at least, and I'm not one to tag along on the racial victimology bandwagon. The question for me is why did the club sell access to the pool for non-member families? The offer of summer swimming to outside groups must have been made with the consent of the club's membership. They can't come along later and say, "Hey, these kids are all black. We can't have them here. We have an image to keep, you know? ... 'complexion' matters."

As Nice Deb puts its, "
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!":
What the heck?! This story reads like something out of Birmingham Alabama circa 1958:

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.

Well, if that kid’s telling the truth, I’d say, yeah, duh! Race was the reason.

Nice Deb is one of the most stalwart conservatives I know. I have to agree. This is wrong, wrong, wrong. There are times for discerning motives and nuance, but this isn't one of them.

What's a bummer, of course, is how an isolated case of racial insensitivity like this gives ammunition to the racial grievance masters who see Jim Crow hiding behing every corner (see, for example,, Jack & Jill Politics, Gawker, Unreported and Alas, a blog).

The administration and members of the Valley Swim Club need to get on the same page, and they need to get in step with the rest of the country. This is pure idiocy. This should NOT be taken for a larger statement on the contemporary (phantom) endurance of some long-ago repudiated pattern of entrenched racial hierarchy.

Conservatives are right to condemn both the swim club's stupidity, as well as the racial grievance lobby's opportunistic reaction to it.

The full video is at the link, "Pool Boots Kids Who Might 'Change the Complexion'." More at Memeorandum.


UPDATE: Skye from Midnight Blue e-mails:
I read this report yesterday, Donald.
Something does not feel right with this story. Too many statements from the alleged victims seemed to be boilerplate racial statements. My intitial gut feeling on this is that there is more to this story than what has been reported. Let me be clear - I will be the first to condem this action if it is indeed true - but I need more evidence that what has been reported.
And to reiterate Nice Deb, "Well, if that kid’s telling the truth ..."


UPDATE II: John Duesler, the president of the Valley Swim Club, is a Barack Obama supporter!

See Moe Lane, "
Yes, the President of the Valley Swim Club is a John G Duesler, Jr."

See also, Sweetness and Light, "Philly Pool Kids Booter Is Obama Fan."

Remember, racism's always cool and hip on the Democratic side!

As they say at Alas, a Blog, "A whole lot of folks in “post-racial” America are still spouting the same old bigotry."

Well, those "whole lot of folks" would be Democrats!

See, "Mainstream Bigotry and Racism on the Democratic-Left."

Added: Dan Riehl, "Uh Oh! Duesler Founder Of The Chocolate Squad?"


Chris Wysocki said...

And here's "reverse racism" in New York State:

During the first five months of this year, with the Senate under the control of its first African-American majority leader, [State Senator Malcolm] Smith, top Democrats bemoaned the lack of minority Senate staffers.

But instead of trying to recruit new hires, they fired nearly 200 almost exclusively white workers and replaced them with a large number of minority employees, many of whom were seen by their fellow workers to be unskilled at their new jobs.

The move produced severe racial tensions, made worse by the fact that, as a high-level Democratic staffer confided, “We’ve been told to only hire minorities.'’

Rusty Walker said...

My abhorrence against racism is well known. But, as I mentioned about the victim mentality in another blog comment this morning, this story sounds strained towards a victim mentality again. This does not add up. There is too much hearsay; too much he-said-she-said, and we seem to be getting alarming statements out of context. Almost like everyone is so excited we finally can show some racism in the country.

There are mean people everywhere. Some prejudiced against Asians, some against whites, some against hillbillies, and Elvis for chrissake. This isn’t going to define the country!

What is amazing to me as someone who went through the civil rights struggles of the 50s and 60s, is the amount of press coverage and drama attached to this small pool incident. If the worst were true, well, that‘s deplorable, but it isn’t something that should be multiplied exponentially by the square root of the United States of America.

These isolated sound bites of society do not define blacks or whites in this country. I would bet Obama would agree.

Anonymous said...

Various neighborhoods in Philadelphia exhibit a high degree of racial paranoia and insensitivity. I suspect this is true in many urban areas where neighborhoods that were formerly inhabited exclusively by particular ethnic groups have seen an exodus of members and a push into their communities by other groups.


Rusty Walker said...

Well, Anonymous, you write like a cold, analytical textbook, but, if you are correct, as you very well may be, Philadelphia and other “urban areas” are unacceptably ignorant, and need to get over their ethnocentric, delusional purebred selves and become part of the human race.

Bob Belvedere said...

Quoted from and linked to at: