The president of the Valley Club swim club doesn't want us to think they're all racists, even though the entire country now thinks so.
Earlier this week, 65 inner city kids from the Creative Steps summer day camp were disinvited from swimming at the Valley Club, despite paying $1,950 for the chance for the kids to swim there.
After the first visit, there were supposedly a lot of mothers who were shocked — SHOCKED! — that black kids would be allowed to swim with their precious little babies. One student even reported hearing a mother ask why there were so many black kids at the pool.
So, because of pressure from the members, the Valley Club refunded the day campers their $1,950.
Then things got all racisty.
Club president John Duesler issued a statement on Tuesday that said, "There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion. . . and the atmosphere of the club."
The next day, protesters marched in front of the club carrying signs that said "'Privately' excluding some stains everyone's complexion" and "Good enough for the White House, but not the swim club." There has even been a probe launched into racist allegations.
Club member Lori Slowinski told Philadelphia's NBC news station, "This has nothing to do with race. I paid my money for a private swim club…if they're gonna have it out to camps, then I want my money back."
("Private" being rich white people's code for "no poor and/or minorities allowed.")
In other words, it has nothing to do with race, it has everything to do with being forced to be around poor people.
On Friday, Duesler apologized profusely to the world, saying he used the wrong words to say why they weren't allowing inner city kids to swim in their pool.
"This is a terrible misinterpretation of what I stand for. This is just wrong," Duesler said in a United Press International story. "That was a terrible choice of words, I admit."
What Duesler said he meant to say was his site does not have enough lifeguards to safely watch over the 65 extra kids.
Muh-huh. So you're not a racist, you're just incompetent?
In other words, he meant to say that he overcommitted his pool, that he failed to plan properly, that he couldn't find any way to fix the problem without becoming a pariah, that he wasn't able to marshal his resources properly, and basically can't properly run a private swimming club for a bunch of snooty rich people without sticking his foot in his mouth.
Here's a quick lesson in PR 101. If you don't have enough lifeguards to watch over 65 extra kids, you say this:
"We don't have enough lifeguards to watch over 65 extra kids."
It doesn't help when the students said they overheard mothers complaining about black kids in "their" pool, or people who say it's not about race, just about being exclusive. (Which is usually rich white people's code for "race.")
But unfortunately, this may be too little, too late for the Valley Club. With discrimination probes, protests, a state complaint by the NAACP, and worldwide notoriety, you need to do something to clean up your image.
Ironically, they call it "whitewashing."
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