No doubt most of us have heard of the incident this week where a group of 60+ day campers were removed from a private swimming club. The staff and children say it's because the club is racist - the club denies the allegations.
What it comes down to is that the day campers had paid nearly two thousand dollars for swimming privileges at the club. As the kids arrived, they said that club members wanted to know why "black kids" were there and said some parents talked about the campers "doing something" to the kids or "stealing something". The daycampers were asked to leave and their payment was refunded.
The campers claim racism and the club claims they under-estimated the amount of children coming in. There was not enough room in the pools.
One rather sad on-camera interview was of a little boy who cried and lamented that even today, it's tough being black and people point and whisper. Quite heart-breaking to see the little boy cry like that and to know that at this age, and in this day and age, he is made to feel this way.
We have no idea if racism was to play. Some members may indeed have been upset. Paying dues to a private club usually ensures an uncrowded space. An additional 60+ people would be an annoyance. Our old apartment community had a private pool and residents were allowed to use the swimming pool, and each resident could bring one guest. I remember rolling my eyes when I'd see residents bringing in all their cousins and friends because the pool ended up packed and I was no longer able to swim. Other residents complained to the management. And they had every right to. So this reaction to 60+ extra people is normal!
But if racism is at play, this must not allowed to be 'normal'. I'm not sure how the club didn't know 60 kids were coming. Surely they would have asked for a head count and the fees would have been associated with the amount of kids coming in. More worrisome is the statement made by the club's president ""There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club." It's understandable how an additional 60+ kids would change an "atmosphere" (when we have playdates in our home, the "atmosphere" does indeed change as more kids come over!) Using the word "complexion" is either very racist or a very poor choice, under these circumstances. The president did concede that his choice of words was bad and that he's not used to making statements or speaking on camera. In other words - he doesn't have that smooth, polished and political way of speaking. That's understandable. They said they knew the kids were from "the city" (this may mean they knew they were minority kids) but a major issue was that the club was unaware that many of the daycampers could not swim and thus had to be removed. This too, is understandable. Kids who cannot swim should not be playing in deep swimming pools!
Maybe we'll never know what really happened but it's a sad day when a small child is made to feel bad for being born the way he is. But for now, it seems that each side is adamant that their interpretation of the event is correct.
Have you or your children been affected by something like this? How would you explain this incident to your child?
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