Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sadly, racism is alive and well

I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia. Not more than a mile from my house, just across the border in Huntingdon Valley, sits the Valley Swim Club. It was not so quietly known that families from my neighborhood should not bother trying to join, since the club was renowned for its anti-Semitism. Today’s Philadelphia Daily News confirms that the problems that existed at this club decades ago lives on today.

The newspaper reports that a Philadelphia day camp paid the Valley Swim Club $1,950 for its mostly black and Hispanic campers to use its pool for a week. After several of the club’s white members made disparaging comments about the campers, the club rescinded the contract and refunded the fee. While the club’s president claims that race had nothing to do with the decision to break the contract, he has also publicly stated that the club “underestimated the impact” the campers would have on the club, that they “fundamentally changed the atmosphere,” and that “there was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion” of the club.

Philly’s Fox 29 provides more details, including interviews with children who overheard moms at the club saying, “What are all these black kids doing here? They might do something to my child.”

This non-employment story serves as a sad reminder to everyone that racism lives on, although usually not as openly and obviously as what appears to be practiced at the Valley Swim Club. Even in 2009, businesses need to remain vigilant in combating discrimination

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