UPDATE: John Duesler seems to be acting in a contradictory manner on the issue. In a communication with the Director of Creative Steps Day Camp, he is reported to have said:
‘Miss Wright, I truly apologize, I’m so embarrassed, but the membership has overthrown me in votes and you’re not going to be able to come back to the club.’” (KYW News)
Which seems to contradict his use thinly veiled reference to racial segregation in the comment quoted in the original post below about the “complexion of the pool.” It’s likely Duesler was trying to appease both parties and has simply dug his own grave by ultimately siding with a racist policy over that of small children and PAYING customers.
Also of note, the now defunct website for the Valley Swim Club included images of the pool without a single person of color further reinforcing the image of the pool as intentionally segregated. END UPDATE
Two-days ago The Valley Swim Club, a private swimming pool in Philadelphia, refused access to 65 black children from Creative Steps Day Camp after the camps had paid for access to the pool for the entire summer. The children were allegedly ejected after regular pool members (read white) allegedly complained about their presence, whether they were “safe” to be around, and other similar thinly veiled racial remarks. The Valley Swim Club followed up the ejection of black kindergartners-6the graders with a letter to their camp suspending their membership and offering to refund the money they had paid for access to the pool for the summer. John Duesler, the head of the Valley Swim Club, released a statement to the press as news of this seemingly racist segregation spread:
“There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club,” (NBC Philadelphia)
Yesterday, twitter users spread the word of the story and encouraged people to bombard Duesler’s twitter account. Some also organized a collective tweet bomb of his account this a.m. Bloggers and twitters alike also spread the address, phone, and fax of the club and encouraged folks to let The Valley Swim Club know that segregation and racism will not be tolerated. Several people planned to protest outside the club today as well.
In brighter news, Girard College has offered their swimming pool to the campers for the summer out of shock at the Valley Swim Club and in solidarity with the right to equality of everyone in this nation (the U.S.).
The ability of this private club to target, humiliate, and exclude children is particularly egregious. The fact that it was done by a club owned by a man who sponsored a Martin Luther King Day event and participated in an Obama fundraiser only speaks to the hypocrisy on the left in which people can support their “black friends” and icons of Af-Am history and still disparage and degrade black people as a whole or exclude them from their places of employment, neighborhoods, and clubs when they exceed the no more than 3 rule together rule. While some conservatives believe that Duesler’s involvement in these events exempt him from criticism, one needs only read the quote above to know why that is wrongheaded. And if that quote is not enough, then think of Strom Thurmand, or if you prefer a contemporary example, Rosie O’Donnell (who is extremely liberal and yet made anti-Asian comments on the view).
Nor should this incident be seen as an anomaly. Private clubs have often excluded people of color and women because their private, and often exclusive, membership insulates them from bad publicity and legal accountability. (For those shaking their head, remember the NOW chapter that exposed exclusion of women at an exclusive Atlanta golf course a few years back? Or the article about black face at an exclusive yacht club on the west coast?) Thus we need to think about it in a context in which this occurs all over the U.S. right now, in the present, and act accordingly to expose all private clubs that exclude people on the basis of membership in historically marginalized and/or federally protected groups.
You can send your own letters of complaint here:
22 Tomlinson Road ** P.O. Box 0134
Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006
They have taken down their website to prevent people from using a contact form there or getting their telephone or fax number.
Please also send THANK YOU emails to Girard College for acting so quickly to make sure the campers had a welcoming place to swim. here