Instances of minor racial skirmishes and extreme racial intolerance have risen greatly since the election of America’s first Black President. From the eastern seaboard to the west coast, Black people and African-Americans have been on the receiving end of what some would suggest is a symbolic beating. Police brutality is at an all-time high as civil unrest fuels racially motivated injustices in nearly every community. No person of color is safe. Not even children.
Tuesday presented more than sixty children from Northeast Philadelphia with their first brush with racism after they were turned away from a private swim club for seemingly no reason at all. The sixty children were all a part of The Creative Steps Day Camp, an organization that offers recreational and educational opportunities for youths during summer months. The group paid $1,900 to The Valley Swim Club, which operates as a private entity but advertises openly in public, for the opportunity to swim in their pool.
“Open” is hardly what the club is; firsthand accounts by Horace Gibson, a parent-guardian that works with Creative Steps, reveals the type of bigotry and intolerance exhibited by the swim club and their staff. “When the minority children got in the pool, all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool. 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,” recalled Gibson in an email.
Valley Swim Club offered to refund all monies paid by Creative Steps to the camp’s director, Aetha Wright, who immediately turned down the refund in what some might see as a symbolic gesture. When asked for the reason that she chose that particular course of action, Wright said that, “The parents don’t want the refund. They want a place for their children to swim.”
With the camp nearly $2,000 poorer and parents still awaiting an apology of some kind, it was the hope of those whom were wronged that a feasible reason for the entire ordeal could be given. Those hopes were dashed almost as quickly as the children were kicked out of the pool as the president of the Valley Swim Club delivered the club’s reasoning.
“There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club,” said John Burwell, president of the Valley Swim Club, in a statement that was either shockingly politically incorrect or worded horribly.
Abraham J. Herschel once said that: “Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”
I can’t think of many 21st century examples that add more validity to his legendary quote than this. . .