Memo to Valley Swim Club members: racism is seen in action more than words

A week after showing up to protest the Valley Swim Club’s seemingly racist policies – things have cooled down a bit. The club offered to have the camp back, the camp said no, and the story will soon fade from memory. Before that happens I want to have one last say.

One thing I’ve come to believe is that words can’t obscure racism. Since the Creative Steps day camp was booted from its agreement with the Valley Club, we’ve heard that the president’s comments about the kids changing the “complexion and atmosphere” of the club were foolish, stupid, or taken out of context. What they weren’t, according to the members,  were racist – the whole event had nothing to do with race and everything to do with space.

To that I say bullshit.

It’s very convenient when you’re caught with your pants down, to try and straighten things out by saying you’re misunderstood. The facts are this – regardless of how many other camps had their contract terminated, the action to cancel the contract took place the very next day after the camp full of blacks and hispanics made the mistake of showing up and expecting to be welcome. The very next day. The booting of the other clubs then appears to be a move to save face. The members who are saying it’s all about space should ask themselves what would have happened if the 65 kids that showed up were white instead of black and hispanic? Would they even have noticed?

The statement that the club released mentioned a diverse membership, but member John Flynn told CNN that they have one black member. Which is it? Or are they counting the grounds keepers as members? Plus isn’t one of the first things someone says when they’ve been caught in a racist moment: “but I have black friends!”?

Let me make this point: you may think you are not racist, but until the moment when that belief is put to the test, you really don’t know. Racism is seen best in what you do. And often, no matter what your words say or what you truly want to believe, your actions tell a different story. So to everyone who has told me that these people weren’t racist – I can’t believe that until I see their actions proving otherwise.

Valley Swim club backtracking

It seems as if the Valley Swim club has realized the errors of its ways and decided to go back on their decision to remove the three day camps from their clubs. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer – the club has decided to invite the day camps back to their club as soon as they figure out how to deal with their safety issues.

“Safety issues.”

I still don’t believe the safety issue excuse and I don’t believe race wasn’t an issue. First off : Timing. I don’t think the banning of the children a day after they showed up for the first time is a coincidence. Second: if safety was an issue, the quote about the the “complexion and atmosphere” made by club president John Duesler don’t make sense whatsoever. Finally, even though it’s only hearsay, it’s hard to dismiss the reported racist comments from the parents.

The club is making strides, and I really hope this situation has led to some soul searching – but I hope they are being more honest with themselves than they are with the public – otherwise nothing will change.

Protesting at the Valley Swim Club

IMG_0349Today I went to the Valley Swim Club to protest the very egregious statements of their president and how they have treated the children of the Creative Steps daycare. In the morning we had 4 people and reporters from CNN, ABC, NBC, and the Inquirer and Daily News. In the afternoon they were joined by every national news outlet and the story had blown up.

It all started with a tweet last night. The power of twitter. There were only 4 of us out there this morning, but we were enough to shut down the club. And by the time 5:30 rolled around, there was a renewed protest with many more people and a lot more vigor. I feel like we did something. But we still don’t have an apology – and there needs to be one.

The club changed it’s website tonight – and let it’s members do the talking instead of having an official come out and make a statement. It was an amazing show of poor crisis communication and showed amazing cowardice. And the statement they made doesn’t address the comments of the president. I am tired of apologies that are not apologies. The president made insulting comments and those need to be addressed. You say the reaction had nothing to do with racism – and that there were other camps that were barred – but the comments were made about the minority camp and the barring happened the day after they were at the club.

BTW – Thanks to the Preston and Steve show for talking about this on their morning show on late notice. Their help was surely felt in the later hours as this story built momentum.

Black kids booted from a swim club in Philadelphia

Just read a story about a swim club here in the Philadelphia area that booted a group of black kids from the club because of their skin color. The news stories state that all the white kids left the pool once the black kids entered. That the black kids were asked to leave because the club doesn’t allow black people in the club. That parents complained about the safety of their children.

If you don’t believe me, read the following quote:

Then the swim club president  John Duesler issued this statement: “There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.”

I can’t believe, given time to craft a response, that the response they came up with. I do believe in this day and age that we have racist bastards out there.

The story has blown up to a national story on the Huffington Post. If you think racism is dead in this era of a black President, think again.

I’m ready to march on this club. We need to embarrass the members (the ones that can be embarrassed) and out the ones who support this policy.  Who’s available Thursday morning?

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