Illustration for article titled At Some Pools, Still Waters Run Deep

From Melissa Harris-Lacewell at The Nation:

"For my daughter the moment came in kindergarten. Even though she was the only African American girl in her classroom, she made friends easily, adored her teacher, and was growing in confidence as a student. Then in May, just a few weeks from the year's end it happened. She and a little white boy were playing together at recess as they had done all year when he looked at her and said, "You know, I would like you better if you would take off your brown skin and put on some white skin."


It was 2008 and we live in a liberal enclave in the Northeast.

She was confused, hurt, and surprised when she told the story. She wasn't completely sure what it meant, but I could hear in her voice the creeping, sticky shame of inferiority. I sat listening with my stomach in my feet and a voice in my head screaming, "Not yet. It's only kindergarten. Not yet. Not yet."


I had a similar reaction when I first heard the story about the racism at a pool just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania . A group of black and Latino children from Philadelphia's's Creative Steps Summer Day Camp were turned away from the predominately white Valley Swim Club because "There was concern that a lot of kids would change the complexion … and the atmosphere of the club." They were turned away despite the fact that the day camp paid $1900 and prearranged the swimming period. It appears the core resistance to the presence of black and brown children came from white adult members of the pool."

Read the rest of the article here.

Yesterday when we posted about this incident, some felt we were wringing our hands and acting like little children since we had the audacity to post about it at all. If shedding light on shameful acts of discrimination is the stuff of children and hand wringers, then children we are and hand wringer we shall remain.

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