I read the story - this situation must be addressed. The swimming pool management reacted in a very negative manner towards children. They do not deserve to be in charge of anything. I know there are some people who want to turn the clock back to a period before the Magna Carta, and this incident is just that kind of demonstration about intolerance.
Good move - it helps the children from Philly. I am sure the incident left a bad taste in the mouths of the children and the parents involved. I am happy to know that the NAACP is now involved; hope they can turn things around.
My activist friend, Michael Morrill, Keystone Progress, in PA, (but from the eastern end of the state) made an email blast on this topic today. Here is what he wrote.
Two weeks ago outside Philadelphia, sixty-five children from a summer camp tried to go swimming at a club their camp had a contract to use. Evidently, the club didn't know the kids were largely Black.
When the campers entered the pool, White parents took their kids out of the water, and the swimming club's staff asked the campers to leave. The next day, the club told the summer camp that their membership would be canceled and that they would refund their money. When asked why, the club's leader said the "kids would change the complexion ... and the atmosphere of the club."1
A "Whites only" pool in 2009 should not be tolerated. The club's actions appear to be a violation of section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act.2 Whether or not any laws were violated, a "Whites only" pool should be something every American condemns.
We're working with our friends at ColorofChange.org to do exactly that-condemn the club's discrimination. Your signature will also be used to call on the Department of Justice to evaluate suing the facility under federal law. It takes just a moment:
After you've taken this simple step, please email your friends and family and invite them to do the same.
Obama is President but that doesn't mean that suddenly all is fine when it comes to race in America. This is a vivid reminder of what we know still lies beneath the surface.
We all know stories like this one -- similar incidents play out quietly every day in different communities across the country. The difference in this case is that folks got caught and there was a contract in place that makes for a potentially illegal act.
Standing up now isn't just about making things right for these kids in Philadelphia or bringing consequences to this swim club (called the Valley Swim Club). It's about creating a climate of accountability everywhere. If we can publicly shame the Valley Swim Club and hold them accountable for this incident, it will make others think twice before engaging in this kind of discrimination.
Please join us in condemning the Valley Swim Club's blatant discrimination and calling on the Justice Department to investigate whether they violated civil rights laws. And please ask your friends and family to do the same. http://www.keystoneprogress.org/page/s/pawhitesonly
Yesterday I had an extensive conversation with a Pennsylvania Congressional Chief of Staff from the area of this unfortunate event. During our conversation I pointed out the many concerns you have voiced via this website as well as your personal emails and calls. They assured me that they are very aware of the situation and both Pennsylvania Senate and House Members have requested an investigation into this matter.
With that said I believe that our top priority right now should be to insure the children's needs are met. Let us begin by focusing our energies, concerns and resources on the children first.
Again, thank you all for the input on this very important subject matter and I encourage further dialog.
Please note I will try to return your emails and calls in a timely but brief manner in that I am currently out of the country.
Diversity in Aquatics
As I discussed with Shaun, we should push press on this issue at the close of the summer, and change the tone of the discussions and the debate. I drafted an open letter that we can push out to the major newspapers Labor Day Weekend. Let me know what you think. Feel free to edit this open letter as appropriate.
OPEN LETTER FROM DIVERSITY IN AQUATICS
With summer coming to a close this Labor Day Weekend, the Diversity in Aquatics Network would like to address the race-related incidents at aquatics facilities that occurred this summer.
While we are saddened and disappointed by the recent race-related incidents which have made national news, such as the student group in Pennsylvania that were expelled from an aquatics facility because of their "complexion", we see it appropriate to fight fire with water and use this opportunity to report good news.
The members of our Network have promoted and supported the creation of _________ new aquatics programs nationwide, and maintained _______ aquatics programs nationwide. In 2008 alone, we estimate that we have trained __________ students with basic aquatics and water safety skills. This programming is intended to develop aquatics skills within the demographics which do not often have ready access to aquatics programs, regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age or disability. Considering over 3,000 people drown in the United States each year, this programming provides opportunities to save lives every day. In addition, this programming enhances safety and preventative measures in aquatics facilities and water recreation nationwide. We see the recent incidents as testimony of our great strides to expand programming into areas where diversity and integration may have never occurred before, and we are proud to be pioneers in this effort.
We hope to continue to expand these efforts in the future, and invite anyone of any background interested in supporting these efforts to join our organization.
Diversity in Aquatics Network
Note: Diversity in Aquatics is a network of individuals working in the field of aquatics that are dedicated to promoting diversity in aquatic programming, water safety programs and water recreation