Friday, July 10, 2009

Two Incidents, Two Races, One Country

Two stories about that state of race relations in America: The first involves a local swim club supposedly discriminating against a camp for black kids. The second involves a white family that was allegedly attacked and beaten by a large group of black teenagers after a 4th of July celebration.

The two stories are cleverly played one over the other on the Drudge Report inviting comparison. Let's compare.

In the first, a camp for inner-city kids called Creative Steps Inc. made a deal with the Valley Swim Club of Huntington Valley, for their kids to use swim the club for 90 minutes, one day a week.

On the first day of camp's use, 65 kids were brought out to the pool. Soon after their arrival, one or two or more of the campers heard comments from one or two or more of the swim club members. One older, (white?) woman member allegedly said "What are all these black kids doing here?"

The kid, or kids, reported hearing the comment (or comments) to their counselors. The counselor reported the comments to the president of the club, who apologized. The kids stayed and swam without incident but a couple of days later, the club cancelled it's deal with the camp, citing overcrowding issues, and refunded the group's money.

The club was quickly denounced and is now being investigated for illegal racial discrimination. The story made front page news in the city papers. The state Human Relations Commission has announced it has opened a probe. Sen. Arlen Specter has even weighed in.

Several of the club's members said the club is being unfairly depicted at racist. The decision to revoke the camp's deal was based solely on complaints of overcrowding. Other club members said if the pool is going to be rented out to day camps with large numbers of kids using the pool, they want their own money back.

Is the club's defense believable? I think so.

The club has no recent history of preventing minorities families from joining it. And its invitation to the camp, knowing full well its racial make-up, suggests a level of innocence when it comes to politically incorrect racial attitudes. Add in the fact, that the sudden arrival of 65 youngsters to scene would be understandably disconcerting to the club members, especially those who didn't know they were coming.

The whole thing sounds poorly planned out by the club's president, who despite his good intentions to provide a place for inner city kids to swim this summer underestimated the affect of such a large number of kids at one time would have on the club's atmosphere. That many kids (white, black or green) are going noisy and disruptive. Kids are kids.

It seems it would be quite appropriate for the club's president to resign for his part in creating the whole mess in the first place.

The camp and some of the campers parents are threatening to sue. It seems to me they have a decent case that has nothing to do with race. They made a deal. They paid their money and the club renegged on the deal. Unless the camp misrepresented the number of kids they would be bringing or something like that, it's club's fault, specifically the leadership's fault, for this mess.

Now, for the second story.

A white family returning home from a 4th of July celebration, is attacked on the street of their neighborhood by large gang of black teenagers allegedly yelling things like "This is our world. This is a black world, now."

Members of a white family were knocked down and kicked in the ribs, arms and head.

From the story:
They said it started when one teen, without any words or warning, blindsided and assaulted Marshall's friend as he stood outside with the others.

When Marshall, 39, jumped in, he found himself being attacked by the growing group of teens.

His daughter, Rachel, 15, who weighs about 90 pounds, tried to come to his rescue. The teens pushed her to the ground.

His wife, Yvonne, pushed their son, Donald, 14, into bushes to keep him protected.

''My thing is,'' Marshall said, ''I didn't want this, but I was in fear for my wife, my kids and my friends. I felt I had to stay out there to protect them, because those guys were just jumping, swinging fists and everything.

''I'm lucky. They didn't break my ribs or bruise my ribs. I thank God, they concentrated on my thick head because I do have one. They were trying to take my head off my spine, basically.''
Question: Which incident is more appalling? Which incident is more worthy of investigation and concern by those worried about the state of race relations in America?

Of course, it is possible the Marshall family made the whole thing up. White people have blamed anonymous black people before for crimes they didn't commit. So all this should be investigated.

But if this attack really did take place, it's far more serious and worrisome than what appears to be a misunderstanding at a swim club.

4 Comments:

Blogger steve mcdonald said...

I really think something fishy is going on with the H-V swim club issue. I know where it is, and it isn't an exclusive type of club (Because those with money in H-V have their own pools).

Who wants to wager that the real problem is that the camp brought 2x the amount of kids estimated and that the club was overwhelmed, understaffed and a regular club turned into an overcrowded city pool? Racism is, of course, a terrible subject, but I have a really hard time believing that in the era of race cards being thrown around for anything and everything, this one is truly race related.

What happened if the club asked that they rotate the kids in every week to keep the volume manageable? Was this a deal breaker?

Just out of interest, I think the media is trying to make this one-sided. I noticed earlier that philly.com is disallowing comments on the pool-related articles.

July 10, 2009 at 11:01 AM 
Blogger steve mcdonald said...

And, if my pal Al Sharpton shows up, I will too, with a dozen eggs. I'm interested in seeing if he's able to "Out-Ego the egging, Out-Duel the Dozen and Out-Dash the Dairy Aisle Salute".

July 10, 2009 at 11:27 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gil-
How about the recent (and often repeated) story of the white cop that shot a black off duty cop who was chasing a suspect?

Trying to justify institutionalize racism by digging out a story of random racial violent is beneath contempt.

July 10, 2009 at 11:28 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These types of racism aren't related. They are both scary but only makes me wonder what decade I'm living in. While the violent attack is horrible for the victims it isn't proof of any widespread racial animosity. The pool incident speaks of something deeper.People might want to call it "playing the race card" because it is easier then admitting a larger problem one that they might even participate in. Could it be a misunderstanding? possibly. Maybe the director of the swim club miscalculated how the number of children would impact the pool (although don't most recreational areas have some zoning laws that permit a number of people?). Paying members could understandably be annoyed that their pool was rented out to a youth group without there knowledge but would they have been so hostile if it had been an all white day camp? Also If the kids were behaving what difference would make? Swim clubs in my experience are for kids. The comments about "complexion" really don't help the swim clubs case against racism.
This blog seems like it wants to be optimistic and write it off as one big misunderstanding compounded by hysterics, But the biggest problem with doing that is that it perpetuates under ground racism. The swim club members might not use the N word or drive around with confederate flag license plates but they apparently drug their kids out of that pool the minute they saw some black faces.

July 11, 2009 at 6:10 AM 

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