in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania
This post is a follow-up to one from last week on the swimming-club debacle in surburban Pennsylvania. CNN reported yesterday that after rejecting a group of inner-city children, the Valley Club has offered an "olive branch after racism allegations."
After reviewing these most recent reported reactions of the club's representatives, I think there's a common white tendency at work.
Most white Americans do not think of themselves as "racists." Indeed, that label, as commonly understood, is not a fair and accurate description of most white Americans. However, given the ongoing, de facto white supremacy of American society and its institutions, most white Americans do have racist tendencies. And as a result, these tendencies do sometimes result in racist actions.
When these racist actions happen, most white Americans will do almost anything to deny that what they did, and/or the effects of what they did, were "racist." After all, they seem to think and more or less say, "that would mean that I myself am a racist. And let me assure you, I am not."
Although the Valley Club has offered an "olive branch," as if to admit that it did something wrong, it seems to me that what its representatives remain reluctant to admit is that what it did was wrong precisely because it was racist.
Here's part of the CNN follow-up:
A suburban Philadelphia swim club has invited children from a largely minority day-care center to come back after a June reversal that fueled allegations of racism against the club, a spokeswoman said Sunday.
The development came during a hastily called Sunday afternoon meeting of the Valley Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. Club members voted overwhelmingly to try to work things out with the day-care center, which accused some swim club members of making racist comments to black and Hispanic children contracted to use the pool, said Bernice Duesler, the club director's wife.
Duesler said the club canceled its contract with the Creative Steps day-care because of safety, crowding and noise concerns, not racism.
"As long as we can work out safety issues, we'd like to have them back," she told CNN.
She said the club has been subpoenaed by the state Human Rights Commission, which has begun a fact-finding investigation, "and the legal advice was to try to get together with these camps, " Duesler added.
Alethea Wright, Creative Steps' director, said, "They should have done that before."
Wright has repeatedly lambasted the club for its tepid response to the charges and said the children in her care were "emotionally damaged" by the incident.
"These children are scarred. How can I take those children back there?" she said. . . .
Swimming privileges for about 65 children from Creative Steps were revoked after their first visit June 29. Some children said white members of the club made racist comments to the children, asking why "black children were there" and raising concerns that "they might steal from us."
Days later, the day-care center's $1,950 check was returned, Wright said.
Club director John Duesler told CNN that he had underestimated the amount of children who would participate, and the club was unable to supervise that many kids. He called his club "very diverse," and said it had offered to let day camps in the Philadelphia area use his facility after budget cuts forced some pools in the area to close.
Wright has rejected the camp's contention that the swim club's pool was overcrowded. The club had accepted a 10-to-1 ratio of children to adults and was considering adding up to three lifeguards, according to e-mails obtained by CNN.
But John Duesler said last week that the Valley Club also canceled contracts with two other day-care centers because of safety and overcrowding issues.
The Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission launched an investigation last week after allegations of racism at the Valley Club. The commission said that as part of any investigation, the two sides eventually could be asked to sit down face-to-face with its investigators.
"We always encourage opposing parties to communicate with one another if they feel they can resolve these issues amicably," Commission Chairman Stephen Glassman said.
Bernice Duesler said she wasn't yet sure how the club will "reach out" to Creative Steps and the other two camps. . . .
(The entire story is here)
What do you think of the Valley Club's response?
Do you think they'll ever admit to racist actions, on the part of the club or the members?
Have you encountered white folks who bend over backwards to explain that something they've done, which was clearly racist, was anything but?
Update: Abagond points out in a comment:
That CNN story is pretty troubling in its own right: they left out the most damning piece of racism in the whole affair: that the swim club president at first was not concerned about safety at all but the "complexion" of the club!
Not only do they leave that out, but CNN prints the club's claim that it is "very diverse" without challenge.
Abagond has since expanded these observations into "How the press is soft on racism," a solid critique of the white-framed corporate press.