Friday, July 10, 2009

Teach Your Children Well

I have always felt that the way we behave around children is exceptionally important. Actions, far more than lectures and rules, shape how our children see themselves and the world.

I was disgusted and dismayed by a story I saw on today’s The Early Show on CBS.

Having been in this position myself this is how I envisioned the scene as the victims described it.

A group of dark skinned children runs down the hill toward the pool. A dozen or so lily white pillars of society are watching their children swim in the pristine waters of their swim club’s pool. Dark children enter pool. All but 3 parents pull their children out.

Got the scene?

It gets worse. These “parents” are being quoted by many sources as saying “they don’t belong here” – “they might hurt my child” – “they’re just here to steal” – and worse.

Once the story became known some of the offensive “offended parents” claim they were merely concerned about the safety of a pool that was about to become overcrowded. I’ve seen photos of the pool – the entire Osmond Family couldn’t overcrowd that pool.

And even if that was the issue – how the hell does pulling your children out of the pool and acting like a pack of wild asshats make the moment safer?

Is this how they want their children to react to situations. Overly entitled and overly enraged.

Everything about the way the parents at The Valley Swim Club in suburban Philadelphia behaved is wrong. And in my opinion it is also racist and demonstrates unfit parenting. I’d love to go there and do some remedial work with them.

The insulted children were with a day camp that paid to use the pool. They have since been told they can’t. The good news is that based on media reports of the incident the children have been invited to another pool.

You can read about all that here and here.

The club put up a statement that basically blames its own members. If they had any balls they would investigate who said and did what and cancel some memberships. I hope the Pennsylvania state authorities look into this.

And, as much as I hate our litigious society, I hope the parents of the insulted children sue the crap out of these fuckers.

When my son was 7 we were invited to a BBQ at the home of one of his little league coaches. My son was playing with another boy his age when the mother of one of the other children told my son to go back to the kitchen and stay with his mother. Now, years later, the look of total bewilderment on my son’s face is comic.

It wasn’t so funny that day.

Seems this woman assumed my dark skinned child must belong to one of the caterers as they were the only black people around and she decided that since he was dark and a servant he could be spoken to in any tone she pleased.

To make matters worse the hostess of the party thought she was salvaging the situation by exclaiming at the top of her lungs. “Oh No! Jeffrey’s not with them. Dianne is his mom, it’s OK”.

Guess we wouldn’t have been invited if I was black.

I took Jeffrey aside and asked him if he wanted me to “make a scene”, which was our code for Mom will tell people how the world is supposed to work. He did not and I respected that. We left. Through the kitchen.

I kicked some major ass at the next parent’s meeting though. And I insisted his little league invite other leagues to play on our field so that the children would all get to know each other. And I insisted the league invite the other parents to BBQ with us on the public field we rented. Otherwise Dianne was going to make a few phone calls.

The parents of The Valley Swim Club should beg the forgiveness of both the day camp children and their own children.

But as always, there is Hope …


Sylvia K said...

As you know by now, Dianne, my ex is black and our kids are a whole variety of colors as they got progressively lighter with each one -- I figured if I had had any more I might have ended up with an albino. We were fortunate to raise them in Montana where being black or half black was okay as long as you weren't Native American -- it's always someone wherever, it seems. And of course I agree with you 100% and will never, ever understand that kind of total ignorance, stupidity and plain shitty behavior. And what are they teaching their kids? To continue doing the same and so the cycle continues. And your granddaughter is adorable!

Anonymous said...

That kind of shit just makes my blood boil. And the thing is they think they are doing no wrong. It's a real shame that parents don't pay attention to their kids and follow their example. Disgusts me. When ya left that party I would have made the snidest comment as if I were a servant or something. I can't control myself in situations like that. And then yes, there is always Hope. Teach us well Hope :)

Queen-Size funny bone said...

Hopefully as the generations to come grow up they will be a lot smarter.

Linda said...

Yes, I agree and appreciate what you've blogged here.

I think I had hope before the 2008 election that we were beginning to beat racism but I no longer think we are.

Thank goodness there's always hope in this world or we would give up living.

pink dogwood said...

I hadn't heard about this - can't believe this. Me being brown skinned often wonders about such stuff for my own case, even though being asian we are more 'tolerable' color. I was sitting in the managers meeting - there were 10 people - 9 white and me and I wondered how I made it in. Then I was ashamed for thinking that, but you always wonder.

I was driving with this coworker Christine - about 12 years ago - at lunch time. There was a nice shiny car in front of us. She casually comments - must be a n*gger - I was appalled. I said Christine, what do you call me when I am not around. She said, don't worry, you are one of us. I said no Christine, I am one of them - needless to say I stopped going to lunch with her.

pink dogwood said...

I missed your previous post somehow - Hope Mia is sooooooooo adorable. I love her name. We have hope now :)

~Just me again~ said...

That is disgusting. It's sad to see that that still goes on. Is that your baby? She's beautiful.

Linda Reeder said...

This was definately a mean spirited story. I have heard about it through several media sources.
But what a sweet ending you used to soften the tone.

bobbie said...

I'm so grateful that my grandson is being raised by parents whose biggest concern, now that they are looking to relocate - possibly back east - is that they insist on a multi-cultural neighborhood wherever they end up. This child will never understand the kind of incident we're hearing about at the pool. No child should have to figure out what this is all about. Sadly, it is not something that can be avoided, even today.

Have I mentioned that your Hope is absolutely beautiful? or had you figured that out for yourself?

kenju said...

Our TV news reported that fiasco in PA and I felt so sorry for the young black boy that they interviewed. That should never have happened.

Travis said...

Some people are determined to remain ignorant bigots. They work so hard at it.

Mrs. C said...

You know, I was reading this and I was furious, too. (Wondered if you'd blog this!) But then I thought about it.

How often do people choose their neighbourhoods the same way? I live just outside the area where the "free blacks" of the town lived. Their descendants still live there and worship at the same church!! And a little further up the street, you could buy a slave every month on the courthouse steps. What must that have been like, to live up the street from that?

When they developed the land around that neighbourhood, do you think they stuck the fancy houses there?? Just saying.

And how often do people give "statistics" about black children over and over and over until you get to the point where you wonder how any kid darker than Woodjie could grow up with any sense of self-esteem. Just look at the NEA or PTA websites about the very colour of a person's skin being a risk factor for dropout and other family problems.

As if.

And I also remember very well in college how the security officers had a meeting with the black organization on campus. Actually they crashed their meeting so they could "get acquainted." Know why? So they could look at them and tell the difference between which blacks belonged and which didn't when they were on patrol!!

Funny, none of us white students was asked to a meeting like that, and the town was about 75% white. I was a reporter on the school paper and they wouldn't do the story. A friend and I purchased ad space that read, "Campus security is racist in our opinion" and they put our names at the bottom! Some of us even protested. No one cared. Local paper couldn't send a stringer.

HEY, did you hear the pool pres was an Obama supporter? Wonder how the story will play out, but glad the kids have a place to go!

Dianne said...

sylvia - I always think of you when I talk about Jeffrey and multi-racial children - I know you know how it feels, thank you

thom - I have the same reaction and a very big mouth but it was about Jeffrey's feelings so I controlled myself - the parent's meeting was a different story. I don't think I came up for air for 20 minutes!

queen size funny - some of them will need to ignore their parents in order to grow up better - sad but true

linda - I think Obama being elected has actually created a backlash of racism among the hardcore - I recently had someone tell me the "niggers were uppity now that they have their own in the White House" - I lifted my cane but then decided I'd be the one arrested

pink - first of all - thank you :) I adore this little one
Kudos for dropping someone who clearly wasn't a friend - some of my son's in-laws feel that way - my ex used to call it the "nigger we know" syndrome, and he was right. he despised it more than outright racsim, as do I.

just me - it's my grand baby - Hope Mia - 1 week old today :)

linda r - as you know so well, grandchildren soften everything :)

bobbie - how wonderful if they moved closer!!
I do know Hope is adorable but I don't mind hearing about it ;)

kenju - I saw the same interview, brought back all the times Jeffrey wondered why people "hated" him

travis - and this pack are rich and overly entitled as well - double whammy in my book

mrs c - I would hope the club cleans out its membership but then again maybe it's not right to refuse membership to racists? surely they can be punished for insulting children!! they said their crap in front of the kids!!

Ron said...

Hello Dear Lady!

Thank you for sharing this because I had not heard about it.

There are several things that I would like to share, but it would take too long.

All I can is this....

....why am I NOT surprised that this occured in Philadelphia???? Especially STUCK UP surburban Philadelphia. Ya see, this is one of the MAJOR reasons why I can't stand this city and hope to eventually move. I was born here, but I've never felt like I belonged.

The consciousness of this city has always had something LARGE stuck up it's ASS. And it's called IGNORANCE and FEAR.

But hey...that's why it's called the City of Brotherly Love.


X to you, dear lady!

Please give Hope a smooch for me!

Cherie said...

I feel so sorry for all the kids in this story for different reasons. One of my favorite lines ever, "In every group of people, there's always a certain percentage of assholes." At least now, they've been publicly humiliated on national tv. Too bad the media couldn't have done it without interviewing the boy. Like he hadn't gone through enough. *grrrr*

Volly said...

The one I hate the most is when people insert color to "clarify" a story.

As in: "I was in the store and this black man came up and asked me what time it was."

Does the man's race make ANY difference? If he were white, would the speaker have said "A white man came up to me and asked..." No! If the man was white, he would have been described as a man, a guy, a dude, etc. but with no other modifier.

One reason I eventually drew away from Protestant Christianity was the story told by a returning missionary who'd been in Africa. He said "...and we stopped and talked to some ladies who were sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch." Then he paused, thought about it for a moment, then amended "You understand, of course, that these were BLACK ladies." As if "ladies" automatically implies white, and he didn't want to be "caught out" insulting the flower of white womanhood by, um, indiscriminately using that term to describe black African women.

What's that saying...sometimes it just isn't worth chewing through the straps...

Grayquill said...

You are my kind of lady -
This is my first visit and I like you already. Next time tell us what you really think,:)
Your remind me of my sister in law.
5'4" thin as a rail but I have no doubt she could and would kick the snot out of any 6'6" male that insulted or harmed her child.

Matt-Man said...

As I always say, "Stupid never takes a holiday." It's a shame and I do believe that State of Pennsylvania has launched an investigation.

As for my son...He is color blind which I am happy about. And it's nice to know that just like his awesome dad, he thinks Tyra Banks is hot. Cheers Di!!

the walking man said...

You know I have strong feelings on this any other issues which I won't bother retyping here.

Send the parents who pulled their kids out of the pool to Detroit where they'll get a dose of reality.

Fuck 'em

Dianne said...

ron - what a shame about Philly, I have such naive visions of a cosmopolitan city. then again, this crap is happening everywhere. wanna buy a house together north of San Fran, that's my dream

cherie - I feel for all the kids as well, the boy who was interviewed told another newspaper he wanted to tell everyone so other people would listen and think about behaving better

volly - thanks for the visit
my father used to preface everything with the person's color or ethnicity - the black guy at the gas station, dianne's Jew teacher and on and on
so I told him I was going to do the same - starting with "my ignorant father" -

grayquill - thank you!! I'm thinkin I like you already as well, and your sister in law

matt-man - ryno is a good kid, and it's cool that he digs tyra - she is a force of nature with legs, but!! please make sure he likes smart women too, just like you do.
tyra is not exactly illuminating the world

walking man - I think poor Detroit needs a break - I want this mofo bastards to take a bus trip to me - we won't even have to leave my yard - I AM a dose of reality and I'm always willing to spread it around
Hope says she likes her Uncle Mark

The Peach Tart said...

I was appalled when I saw this news story.

Akelamalu said...

Both incidents are apalling and definitely racist! I would so kick up a stink! Parents are definitely to blame for their kids becoming racist - children don't make any difference with colour it just doesn't bother them naturally.

Love the lastest photo of Mia. x

CG said...

I think this is terrible, and surprising. I always thought the US was much less racist than many other countries.

Jay said...

So how many of the parents of this "whites only" swim club are also members of a "whites only" golf and country club?

Deborah Godin said...

I was sadden by this, for those innocent, perfect children, and also chilled at the expression of such racist sentiments. It's become non-PC to express such things openly, and that gives the illusion that we are now in post-racial times, but the poison is still alive and well underneath the veneer, and still being handed down, I fear. I was in an mixed-race relationship, albeit w/o children, but I still know something about the feelings a word or a look can generate.

Anonymous said...

Now do you hear that the facility is saying it was a safety issue. That there weren't enough life guards? They can kiss my big white fucking ass.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I read about the horrific incident and thought how incredible the whole thing is....I come from a time of "restricted" places with signs that said, "No Dogs Or Jews"....and "White Only" and :Colored Only"....But for this to happen in 2009...HELP US OH LORD!
The thing that is so painful, too, is the terrible effect that had on those chidren. Like when that happened to your son---that could scar someone, forever!
Sometimes I feel we have made no progress at all, on so very many levels, it is deeply disheartening, isn't it?

Melli said...

I just can't believe... in this day and age... that ANYone could still behave that way.

Dianne said...

peach - as was I !!

akelamalu - it's such a shame when you see children who will be so negatively impacted by the way they are parented

CG - as with most things in the US we're real good at putting on a show - rather than buckling down and doing the hard work

jay - I wonder

deborah - the feeling is awful! the anger seethes and ... I could go on and on
I just had "words" with someone who said that it was "good that Hope was so light skinned, although her is a bit wide and flat but that could always be fixed"
much to the shock of everyone around me I threw them out of my house - and would/will do it again
this BS is unacceptable

thom - originally they said overcrowding, now it's lifeguards! they knew the kids were coming and how many
and even if that's all true - it in no way excuses the parents - I'd put my white ass next to yours any day!!!

old old lady of the hills - it is disheartening, but I refuse to shut up til the day I die
fuck em!!

melli - today is the 100th anniversay of the NAACP and still so much work to do

YogaforCynics said...

As a resident of Philly, I'm particularly appalled...then, despite an African American mayor getting 83% of a vote, and Obama probably winning the city by a similar margin, the racism that still exists here tends to be in-your-face and step forward two steps back, I guess...

Raven said...

What a serene spirit your Hope has. I so agree about the swimming pool incident. Just shocking, though I guess I shouldn't be shocked. There is still plenty of racism out there. I have been concerned that our society's racists are somewhat invigorated by the presence of Mr. Obama in the White House. Limbaugh and many at Fox News spew extremely thinly veiled racism which they pretend is political discourse. The up side is that even though it's still there, I do think we have come far. YogaforCynics said one step forward, two back. I think it's more like two forward, one back. I hope so. That's one beautiful grand daughter you have there. Keep those pictures coming.

Rambling Woods said...

Sadly..I wasn't surprised by that.. Just saddened.

Frank Baron said...

It's a story that I might have read in the 60s. I would have thought then, that in 40-some years we'd only read about such stuff in history books.

Michael Manning said...

Hi Dianne: Yes, I heard the story and pretty much sized up what was happening there. I still believe there is Hope.

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Bob-kat said...

My thoughts are not polite and so I will not sully your blog with my reaction. Safe to say that I share your sentiments though. What narrow minded bigots. The club should aat the very least revoke memberships of the offending parties. Otherwise the message is that it will tolerate such behaviour and that is not acceptable.

Jacob said...

I'm with you 100% on this one...Is this the incident where they were afraid the black kids would change the "complexion" of the group?

Virulent racism is still alive and well in this country, unfortunately.

Ivanhoe said...

Awww...little Hope just melts my heart. Where was I? Ahhh...the asshats at the swimming pool.
What did you expect from a country club? I went to a one with a friend a couple of times - a long time ago - and all I saw was snobs. I will not come back and I do not have a desire to be a member of one either.

Daryl said...

I see color .. your Hope is the color of love!

Bond said...

I am late...but can I leave one final word:


Mrs. C said...

Um, thought you would be interested in this scholarly history of racism and public pools:

NOW we can say everything has been written up and documented in this world LOL!

Hey, the conclusion is that people are getting private home pools because too many of those public pools let in those-there black folks. There's even a hypothesis on when middle and low-class people are going to swim based on admission price (!!). Somebody spent a lot of time on this...

I woulda sworn it was the cryptosporidium (sp?) that keeps getting into our public pool water/ outbreaks etc. that makes people want a private pool. I had no idea that was a "black thing" and that my motivation for the blow-up kiddy pool in the backyard isn't drowning prevention and convenience, not to mention not feeling like paying zillions of bucks to have my kids elbow to elbow with everyone ELSE's kids, but racism. Duh, me, I guess I'm not as smart as these academic folks. (scratches head)

I don't think you can deny admission to racists, but you can make pool rules like "speak nicely to others or we kick you out. Oh, and the staff gets to decide what 'nice' is. Deal with it." Then they need to change the staff so they quit getting so worked up about complexion and realize that God looks on the heart. (Black IS a bad colour for hearts.)


fermicat said...

I'd like to think that some day society will be colorblind, but I am not sure that will ever happen. And it sucks.

Felisol said...

Well spoken, Diane.
As long as parents are brave and engaged like you are, I see a bright and shining hope for the future of our world.
It is sad, though, that it's the wealthy and "enlightened" who often are the worst racists.
I have wondered about that since we those horrible pictures in front of southern churches in the early sixties.
I am a firm believer that the longer we live, the better we get.
Hopefully this Phillie incident may turn things there to the better?
From Felisol

Hilary said...

I almost had to check the date to make sure we weren't in some kind of time warp. It's hard to believe that in this day and age, in this multi-cultural continent, in this time of change and awareness, that you still hear stories of this disgusting nature.

“There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club.” That just sends a chill down my spine