Over the weekend, the Valley Club membership voted near-unanimously (one dissent) to reinvite the 65 Black and Hispanic kids from the Creative Steps day camp into their swimming pool, having magically found more room in a pool they previously insisted was too crowded.
The problem for the purity pool folks is that the kids turned away from the club, having been traumatized by the racist comments hurled at them by swim club members during that infamous visit, don’t want to go back there. The “offer” to the day camp was turned down and it is slapping a lawsuit on the Valley Club:
“This has nothing to do with safety,” attorney Gabriel Levin said. “It has to do with the color of their skin.” Before a camp trip to a gymnastics event in Huntingdon Valley yesterday, several of the children who made the June 29 trip to Valley Club’s pool expressed little desire to return.
“I don’t want to go back,” Creative Steps camper Jabriel Brown, 12, said yesterday. “I don’t want to get treated the same.”
Dymir Baylor, 14, who said he heard the racially oriented comments himself during the trip to Valley Club, was similarly inclined.
“I’m afraid if we go back, we’ll get put in the same situation,” Baylor said.
Plus, as Creative Steps founder and director Alethea Wright said “unless there’s been some additional footage added to the pool, I don’t see how we could return.” Really. If the safety issue was the real concern (you know how that whole complexion thing is about numbers, right), what’s changed to generate the invitation? No one’s buying it. In order to accept an offer to return to the Valley Club, Creative Steps’ attorney said the club’s entire board must resign, and the bigots who hurled racist comments at the children need to be expelled from the club.
More below the fold.BTW, look at this tidbit of history:
The club, which is unaffiliated with the Huntingdon Valley Country Club, is just outside Philadelphia’s city limits and was founded in 1954, when pressure was emanating from within the city to integrate pools. In 1953, State Sen. Charles R. Weiner (R., Phila.) had offered a bill to desegregate all public pools. In 1951, the Rev. Harrison DeShields of South Philadelphia sued pool operators across the city and suburbs, alleging discrimination.
The new allegations against the Valley Club prompted questions of whether it was resisting decades of racial progress.
It’s up to Alethea Wright and the Creative Steps families to determine whether Duesler and the Valley Club membership are acting in good faith, and whether to try this again. One more first step the Valley Club can take? Expel the members who made racist comments to these kids. Make clear that they are no longer welcome at your pool.
Until the families tell us it’s over, sign the Color of Change petition to urge the USDOJ to investigate. Keep up the pressure.
* Sen. Specter calls for fed investigation of discrimination at Valley Swim Club
* I guess I’ll just sink to the bottom of the pool
* ‘Complexion’ of black camp kids not a problem at new pool
* Black kids booted from Philly club’s ‘whites-only’ pool