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."
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. Whether or not any laws were violated, a "Whites only" pool should be something every American condemns.
I've just joined ColorOfChange.org in doing exactly that -- will you join me, and email your friends and family asking them to do the same? We're also calling on the Department of Justice to evaluate suing the facility under federal law. It takes just a moment to do both, here:
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 me 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.
Here are some links to more info:
"Pool Boots Kids Who Might 'Change the Complexion,'" NBC Philadelphia, 07-08-09
"60 Black Kids Booted from Philly Pool For Being Black -- Speak Out," Jill Tubman at Jack and Jill Politics, 07-08-09
"Valley Swim Club: Day Two," Adam B at Daily Kos, 07-08-09
"Section 1981 Summary," Employment Law Information Network