Posted by: Ophelia | July 9, 2009

Racefail of the week

Campers’ “Complexion” No Problem for New Pool Sen. Arlen Spector looking into accusations of racism

For kids in the summertime, there’s nothing better than jumping full-speed into a pool to cool off. So when 65 kids from a Northeast Philadelphia camp were banned from taking a dip at a private swim club because of fears they would “change the complexion” and “atmosphere” of the club, they couldn’t understand why.

Creative Steps Day Camp paid The Valley Swim Club more than $1900 for one day of swimming a week, but after the first day, the money was quickly refunded and the campers were told not to return.

At first there was no explanation, but some of the campers recalled overhearing comments about the color of their skin while at the club.

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.”

So the staff at Girard College, a private Philadelphia boarding school for children who live in low-income and single parent homes, stepped in and offered their pool.

“We had to help,” said Girard College director of Admissions Tamara Leclair. “Every child deserves an incredible summer camp experience.”

The school already serves 500 campers of its own, but felt they could squeeze in 65 more – especially since the pool is vacant on the day the Creative Steps had originally planned to swim at Valley Swim Club.

“I’m so excited,” camp director Alethea Wright exclaimed. There are still a few logistical nuisances — like insurance — the organizations have to work out, but it seems the campers will not stay dry for long.

And to sweeten the deal, the owners of Gumdrops & Sprinkles treated the kids to a free day of candy and ice cream making.

The banning has caused so much controversy that U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) plans to launch an investigation into the discrimination claim.

“The allegations against the swim club as they are reported are extremely disturbing,” Specter said in a statement. “I am reaching out to the parties involved to ascertain the facts. Racial discrimination has no place in America today.”

(NBC Philadelphia)

“There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.” This guy must have brass ones to literally issue a statement that epitomizes “If you’re black, get back” in 2009. So much for the era of hipster/pseudo racism which is thinly veiled in would be irony. They’re just bringing out the old timey racism.  The mere presence of black children is enough to make the patrons clutch their pearls, drop their monocles, and demand that they be removed lest they change the atmosphere of the club. They’ll probably issue some other statement and claim the kids were being rowdy since no matter what the behavior, malice tends to be imputed to children of color. One of the first reports mentioned a parent saying that she was afraid the black children would hurt her child when she complained about their presence. It’s things like this that make it difficult for me to agree with those that would posit that the negative portrayal of blacks in the media is just entertainment and it doesn’t change the way people behave. 64 kids just got the message that they’re not good enough because the color of their skin threatened the atmosphere of some club. In 2009. I’m spent.



  1. I linked back here in a piece I did at the CA NOW blog:

  2. “Change the complexion”? Did they really think that was an acceptable excuse? What the hell… Can companies get out of affirmative action if they claim that a minority would “Change the complexion” of their company’s image? I’m waiting for Abercrombie and Fitch to use this excuse now…

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