PROBLEM: Nearly 60 percent of African-American children cannot swim, almost twice the figure for white children, according to a first-of-its-kind survey which USA Swimming hopes will strengthen its efforts to lower minority drowning rates and draw more blacks into the sport.
Stark statistics underlie the initiative by the national governing body for swimming. Black children drown at a rate almost three times the overall rate. And less than 2 percent of USA Swimming’s nearly 252,000 members who swim competitively year-round are black.
The solution seems obvious. Teach Black kids how to swim.
BIGGER PROBLEM: More than 60 campers from Northeast Philadelphia were turned away from a private swim club and left to wonder if their race was the reason.
“I heard this lady, she was like, ‘Uh, what are all these black kids doing here?’ She’s like, ‘I’m scared they might do something to my child,'” said camper Dymire Baylor.
The Creative Steps Day Camp paid more than $1900 to The Valley Swim Club. The Valley Swim Club is a private club that advertises open membership. But the campers’ first visit to the pool suggested otherwise.
“When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool,” Horace Gibson, parent of a day camp child, wrote in an email. “The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately.”
The next day the club told the camp director that the camp’s membership was being suspended and their money would be refunded.
“I said, ‘The parents don’t want the refund. They want a place for their children to swim,'” camp director Aetha Wright said.
Campers remain unsure why they’re no longer welcome.
“They just kicked us out. And we were about to go. Had our swim things and everything,” said camper Simer Burwell.
The explanation they got was either dishearteningly honest or poorly worded.
“There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club,” said John Duesler, President of The Valley Swim Club said in a statement. link
65 Black kids might “change the complexion” of the club?
Oops. Looks like somebody didn’t get the memo. Black people do so swim too! Maybe the folks at The Valley Club would just as well let them drown.
You can’t make this stuff up. But you should have to.
Philly.com followed up on how some of the kids were taking the rudely racist rejection.
Alce got worked up when he talked about what happened at the swim club.
“We have that paper – what’s it called? That paper called the Declaration of Independence. That says they can’t do that to us,” said Alce.
Gerard Bird, 14, nodded emphatically.
“Who gave them the right to judge us by our race?” he said. “It’s ignorance.”
Shuron Davis, 11, said she heard the comments, too.
“They said, ‘There’s too many black people at the pool.’ They were afraid we would hurt their children,” Shuron said.
The children were welcomed by a Jewish community center to swim in their pools. A mixed-race group of protestors have picked The Valley Club facility with some carrying signs reading, “Jim Crow swims here.”
Where’s the brotherly love in the City of Brotherly Love?
Well, at least the kids learned a valuable lesson about life here in post-racial America. THERE’S NO SUCH PLACE!