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Campers, Kicked Out For Being Black, Sue Pool

By Madeline Holler |

dymirebaylorLast week, 60 black and Hispanic kids got kicked out of a private suburban Philadelphia pool for, you know, being black and Hispanic.

In an explanation meant to defend the club’s sudden cancellation of the camps fully paid dues to use the pool this summer, the president of the Valley Swim Club in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., John Duesler, issued a statement that said the kids “changed the complexion of the pool.”

Oh, in that case … wait, what?

The Creative Steps Day Camp had paid almost $2,000 to use the pool this summer. But when the kids showed up the first time and jumped in, witnesses say all the white kids got out.  According to one parent, pool attendants came over to campers and told them minorities weren’t allowed in the club. They were ordered to leave before their swim time was finished.

Several of the kids said they overheard racist comments. From NBC Philadelphia:

“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.

Since the alleged incident, people have been protesting the Valley Swim Club and one mother filed a class action lawsuit. Her four children attend the camp and were at the pool that day.

Duesler, president of the board of directors, said the club wants to invite the kids back to swim and that the whole thing is one big misunderstanding. He has dropped his “complexion” talk and now says that there were simply too many kids for the size of the pool.

Several of the pool’s members who were there that day said the kids were well-behaved and that, while the pool was crowded, it wasn’t a problem.

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Spector, the Anti-Defamation League and the U.S. Swim Team have all weighed in on the issue. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission has also opened an investigation.

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Photo: NBC Philadelphia

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About Madeline Holler

madeline-holler

Madeline Holler

Madeline Holler is a writer, journalist, and blogger. She has written for Babble since the site launched in 2006. Her writing has appeared in various other publications both online and in print, including Salon and True/Slant (now Forbes). A native of the Midwest, Madeline lives, writes, and parents in Southern California, where she's raising two daughters and a son. Read bio and latest posts → Read Madeline's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Campers, Kicked Out For Being Black, Sue Pool

  1. cheri says:

    Really? I dont know. Really? You think people were really that bad? I went to a pool recently that was CRAWLING WITH KIDS. Not over the legal capacity, but it was not pleasant with that many kids. If our “exclusive” club pool suddenly had 60 more kids jumping, screaming, and beating each other with noodles….I would not go anymore. Not because of the complexion, but because a bus load of un accompanied children is a freaking nightmare.

    Maybe these whities were really that horrible and racist, but maybe they were just irritated that their normally quiet, safe pool was suddenly overrun with rambunctious little monsters, inner city or not.

  2. Lorraine says:

    I agree with Cheri — and call bullshit on the claim that they were kicked out because they were black and/or Hispanic.

  3. It’s possible, except several members said the kids were polite and not unruly and not loud. Even a guy there with his three-year-old.

  4. Bluster says:

    “changed the complexion of the pool”. If it wasn’t a racially tinged comment, then it comes up pretty short on sensitivity.

  5. Manjari says:

    I don’t know if I’m more shocked that this happened (in such an overt way), or that people commenting here don’t believe it happened! It must be nice to be so far removed from experiencing discrimination that you assume all claims of it to be false.

  6. [...] Campers, Kicked Out for being Black, Sue Pool [...]

  7. cheri says:

    It is just that there are many perspectives here. Since I recently had a bad pool experience, thanks to bus loads of kids being shipping in with little supervision….my mind jumps to the worry that my 2yo would be bashed in the head by a noodle wielding 7yo boy, rather than the concern that brown people might dirty the pool. And, parents all have very different views on what is acceptable behavior from a pool full of kids, so the comments from parents who did not find the kids offensive can be seen as selective. I sat next to a mom the other day (in my exclusive, nearly white-only pool) while her 6 year old was beaten with a noodle by his 9 year old brother. The mother saw nothing wrong with this, even though it was the “kiddie” pool where my baby was playing. So I told the kids to move to somewhere better.

    But really, people are snobs, and racist. No doubts there. I think the jackass that made the “complexion” comment screwed this up so badly that we may never know what really happened. It just makes a good story that a rich country club threw out the little black/brown kids. Hey, maybe it is true, and that was the motivation. I suspect it had less to do with the overt color of the kids skin, and more to do with class ism. Rich folk dont like mixing with the poor folk.

  8. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. All this bending over backward to rationalize on the part of the club’s racist action. The kids *must* be lying. It *must* have been something else. Lord knows it’s worse to be called a racist than to be subject to racist actions.

  9. Lisa says:

    I will say only this. 60 kids of elementary age kids will be supervised at best at a 1 to 10 ratio. I don’t think that is safe for a pool.

    Also, $1900 for 60 kids to use the pool for the summer seems insanely cheap ($33/kid). Most places would only get 6 visits or so for that many kids and that’s with a huge discount.

    Were they expecting 60 kids at that price?

  10. Lisa says:

    Oh.. no, I learn there were 65 kids ($$29/kid) for one day of swimming per week. They really underpriced for that many kids. I wonder how long they were supposed to swim each day and how many weeks the camp was running.

  11. cheri says:

    90 minutes per swimming session apparently.

    And mistress….did you talk to the kids? No? Then how on earth do you know what anyone said. Lots of drama here, truth hard to find. No doubt people are jerks and prejudiced, but some people (you) are really eager to believe one truth. I am trying to point out that this story smacks of sensationalism, and deserves some restraint until the drama subsides, and we find out what really happened.

  12. Marj says:

    I agree that if it was about the large number of kids, perhaps the club should have posted a notice that the club would be there certain days or times, so that people wishing to avoid so many kids could do so. However, I saw a news report where one little boy was talking about the comment he heard about “what are all these black kids doing here” and he was really upset, choking back tears. I don’t think it was a put on because he was old enough to be embarrassed by crying. I think he must have actually heard someone say that.

  13. The big crowd theory? I don’t know. The campers didn’t just show up. It was planned. They knew 60 kids would be showing up. And the kids swam there for a while before being asked to leave. A few other camps also had made arrangements — which were canceled after this incident as well. And, again, some of the other people swimming there said the campers were well-behaved and not a problem. Like Cheri, I’m interested in what the Human Relations investigation finds.

  14. Mistress_Scorpio says:

    Yeah, Cheri. Kids are just *so* dramatic. Let’s not be hasty here, I’m sure there’s a perfectly rational reason for this. I mean there’s a black president now, so racism is over, right? And adults are never mean to kids. Let’s just give the club the benefit of the doubt and when they come up with a third or fourth explaination that is plausable and not an unfortunate choice of words then we will just believe that one! I feel awesome now because I just made blatant racism go away! Who wants cake?

  15. balckqueen says:

    if any of you would answer this question of mine i would appriciate it. How does it happen to be that all 65 kids were Black or Hispanic? Mistress do you think there is a perfectly rational reason for this?

  16. blackqueen says:

    sorry i misspelled my name

  17. [...] area earlier this month, and the pool owners have been fingered for their racist comments since. Among them a complaint that the kids “changed the complexion of the [...]

  18. Mudderland says:

    So what if the people that pay good money for membership at a facility don’t want it over ran with ‘inner city’ kids? They PAID MONEY for an experience/ situationa and that expectation was ruined by the influx of inner city kids. The dues paying members should sue for breach of contract. You know tax dollars provided the $2k the innercity place coughed up so why should the members pay twice to have their facility over ran by screaming unsupervised children?

  19. YT Rules from North Mexico says:

    This is obviously a ‘Hate Crime’ hoax! It is all pure Barbara Streisand!

  20. edro says:

    PRIVATE POOL. They can do whatever they want. If i dont want ugly or fat people in my pool i can tell them to get out

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