A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, July 10, 2009

When Stupid (White) People Run Swimming Pools

No, my title today is not an idea for the next reality sensation on the Fox Network, but rather an apt description of a local controversy that is about to bust open nationwide. This is it in a nutshell: a day camp with mostly African-American and Hispanic children made arrangements to use an outdoor swimming pool at the Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. The day camp paid membership fees to cover their charges, and on June 29 attended the first of what was to be a weekly visit to the pool throughout the summer.

During the course of this session, several of the children told the camp’s executive director, Alethea Wright, that they heard some club members question what African-Americans were doing at the club. Wright approached club president, John Duesler, about the incident. According to newspaper reports, Duesler seemed apologetic at the time. Unfortunately, the club’s mea culpa seemed a bit shallow a few days later when the day camp received a refund for their membership, effectively cancelling all future swims for the campers at the club.

Now, parents of the campers are considering legal action against the club for racial discrimination. Club members have been quoted as saying that the club terminated the memberships over concerns of overcrowding. One television station, NBC10, has released a statement from Duesler (see below), but otherwise the club has been strangely incommunicative with other media outlets about the incident.

Okay, let’s examine the overcrowding argument mathematically. There were 65 children from the day camp attending the pool sessions. The pool holds 110,000 gallons of water. Even if there are 100 other people in the pool at the same time as the day campers, that still gives each person 667 gallons of water to frolic in. (In case you’re wondering, yes, I rounded up!) How many gallons of water does one child require to entertain him/herself? It can’t possibly be that much to warrant concerns about overcrowding.

Just as a point of perspective, I’ll offer this tidbit of information. It only takes 8 ounces of water to drown. Okay I don’t know why I brought that up, other than more proof of the old adage that “dying is easy, comedy is hard!”

I question one part of this incident as reported. For one thing, the club members use of the term “African-Americans” is suspect. It is my experience with several residents of the Philadelphia area who, I am sad to report, are not as tolerant of other cultures as I believe they should be, would not resort to this wording.

It’s a matter of economics. Why describe a person of African descent with the hyphenated words African-American (which is probably the current phrase considered the most politically correct), when you can use the two syllable, six-letter word that has become infamous down through the nation's history. Yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if the club members actually let the “n” word fly in front of the children and the reports have been sanitized by the press.

Still, this is all a very minor point compared to the bigger problem that any objections to the children’s presence were ever raised at all. Even more glaring is the quote by Duesler justifying his clubs refund of the membership fee: “There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion (italics mine)...and the atmosphere of the club.”

Another point of perspective is the primary definition of the word, complexion: “the color and appearance of the facial skin.” How unfortunate! How sad! How incriminating!

Okay, you have the threat of a racial discrimination suit staring you in the face and you actually have the cojones to use the word “complexion” in your explanation? Sir, you may not be a racist, but I strongly suspect that you’re an idiot!

Note to campers: the state Human Relations Commission has announced that they will investigate the incident. If you don’t get satisfaction there, you can always look up the Southern Poverty Law Center. Ironically, the Center was created as a result of a similar situation nearly forty years ago.

Note to Valley Club: this incident is about to become a huge firestorm. If Al Sharpton shows up on your doorstep, then you’re definitely screwed. At this point, you’d be best advised to hire a very good lawyer, hire an even better public relations representative, get out your checkbook, and practice writing a lot of zeroes in it.

Thank you for reading. Please remember if you can’t say anything nice, then keep your trap shut!


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