I saw the news clip of the black, summer camp children who were rejected from the private Huntingdon, Pennsylvania swimming pool. It’s a familiar story. Some white patrons felt that the didn’t have to tolerate black people taking advantage of their facilities so facility management made the decision to err on the side of Caucasians and eliminate the not white interlopers. According to management at The Valley Club, the pool simply couldn’t accommodate the influx of so many black people and offered to refund any money paid on behalf of the black kids.
Other pools have stepped up to the plate and offered to take the kids of the Creative Steps Day Camp. To some, that’s supposed to take care of the situation. Racial discrimination is okay as long as black people can find separate but equal facilities or resources or services. As long as black people can swim somewhere we can tolerate racial discrimination that makes black children aware of their place in our social makeup.
The fact that their unfortunate experience has been brought to light is an unfortunate double edged sword. First the bad news: their story catches the public’s attention and everybody is made aware of their predicament. It’s rather embarrassing to have people know that you’ve suffered such humiliation. And the more people who know the greater the embarrassment. And now that the world wants to know every little detail of your story, all of that attention can make emotions raw, pouring salt into that humiliating wound. People can holler platitudes of our society being post racial all they want, but the fact of the matter is that racial disparity is alive and well.
But on the other hand, what better way to rid ourselves of this ugly behavior than to expose it for the world to see. Black kids being rejected from a swimming pool under whatever pretenses bigots can conjure up needs to be brought up every time somebody wants to assure us that racism is now the rare exception instead of our normal operating procedure.
If I had a dime for every time I’ve had to deal with racial intolerance I would be a very rich man. And while I often made the choice to leave the subject alone and move on, I wished I had the ability to expose racists for the awful excuse of humanity, these people truly are. These children should take solace in the fact that they have helped to expose blatant racial discrimination. Their ordeal is disgusting for sure, but these children will not have to suffer their humiliation in vain.
Hopefully these children have learned a very important lesson that all black people should learn. These children shouldn’t be so oblivious and buy into the hype that they are automatically welcomed everywhere. Contrary to the popular belief that we share a racially equal existence, white people appear to be more racially equal than their black counterparts.
And hopefully these children will learn that they shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the discrimination other people suffer. Whether it’s racially oriented, gender oriented, age discrimination, religious discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation, or whatever the case may be, to sit back and tolerate it simply because it was happening to someone else. We should never tolerate blatant discrimination.
Discrimination is like a snake in the grass slithering along to find its next prey. Just because the snake can slither along out of the view of everyone doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or that some rodent somewhere is going to come up missing. Its effects are very real. Its impact on the community is real. Discrimination is no different. Simply because we normally don’t see it happening as blatantly as we did in this swimming pool example doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening. If we care to open our eyes and look all around us we will see the effects of racial prejudice all around us.
To their credit, a lot of people, both black and white and everything in between the two, are coming out on the side of the summer campers. Some of these people are even members of the pool, picketing their own organization. It’s always good to see when people are able to point a wagging finger at their self. But what happens when the story dies and the news people move on to something else. Will these same people maintain their vigilance for other snakes of discrimination? Or will people let their guard down and go back to their happy existence oblivious to racial disparity with the belief that we are in a post racial society? Snakes really do best when guards are down.