Fear of a Black Planet Pool.

This has already made the rounds, but it’s worth posting, if only because it’s so ridiculous:

More than 60 campers from Northeast Philadelphia were turned away from a private swim club and left to wonder if their race was the reason.”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.

The Creative Steps Day Camp paid more than $1900 to The Valley Swim Club. The Valley Swim Club is a private club that advertises open membership. But the campers’ first visit to the pool suggested otherwise.”When the minority children got in the pool all of the Caucasian children immediately exited the pool,” Horace Gibson, parent of a day camp child, wrote in an email. “The pool attendants came and told the black children that they did not allow minorities in the club and needed the children to leave immediately.”

I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say, so I’ll defer to Jeremy:

A new political culture has effectively barred the acceptance of 1960s era Jim Crow racism—a racist ideology grounded in biological explanations of black inferiority. However the fall of Jim Crow was accompanied by a more passive, yet equally problematic ideology of black disadvantage. The general public now accepts cultural explanations of black inferiority, citing blacks’ collective lack of mainstream values, norms, and behaviors as the source of their deprivation. This is exactly the rhetoric adopted by Duesler and The Valley Swim Club—a rhetoric rooted in the unfounded fear that these black kids simply won’t know how to act right.

I would also add that the widespread acceptance of “cultural explanations of black inferiority” aren’t merely a social inconvenience, they have a real and lasting impact on social and economic opportunity.  In 2003, researchers at the Cambridge-based National Bureau of Economic Research published a paper suggesting that the mere presence of a “black-sounding name” on a resume was a detriment in the hiring process.  The researchers found that  “resumes with White names have a 10.08 percent chance of receiving a callback. Equivalent resumes with African American names have a 6.70 percent chance of being called back. This represents a difference in callback rates of 3.35 percentage points, or 50 percent, that can solely be attributed to the name manipulation… Put in other words, these results imply that a White applicant should expect on average one callback for every 10 ads she or he applies to; on the other hand, an African American applicant would need to apply to 15 different ads to achieve the same result.”  The reasoning for employers – the solid majority of whom are white – is pretty straightforward: “black-sounding” names are indicative of “black culture” which in turn is an unconscious signal that the person in question might not “fit in” or “meet the standards” of the employer.

This, if you’re wondering, is why race-based affirmative action is still necessary; the glow of our glorious post-racial president – strong as it is – isn’t nearly strong enough to dispel the negative, ingrained cultural attitudes towards African-Americans.  And more importantly, isn’t strong enough to erase the effect those attitudes have on depressing economic opportunity for African-Americans and other historically disenfranchised minorities.

(x-posted from U.S. of J.)

7 thoughts on “Fear of a Black Planet Pool.

  1. Winslowalrob July 10, 2009 at 11:08 am Reply

    Great post, but the title could use some work. Were you listening to the album as you were writing it up?

  2. Grump July 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm Reply

    Where’s Mr. Pride at when you need him?

  3. Leigh July 10, 2009 at 12:29 pm Reply

    Is this example really about whites worrying about black “behavior” and not just good old fashioned racism? I actually find Jeremy’s explanation too charitable, and not that well supported by the whites’ behavior and statements.

  4. Leigh July 10, 2009 at 12:36 pm Reply

    What I mean is that if pushed, I’d be willing to bet that these whites could admit still a belief in biological inferiority – the rhetoric might be “blacks act different” but if asked why, eventually, I think, it’d come down to, well, they’re born that way (after saying, they’re raised that way) or, more vaguely, that’s just how they are. We live in a world where we still hold fast to biological gender differences as causing differences in men’s and women’s behavior. Despite moving it underground, I don’t think as a society we’ve really let go of the race-based biological differences, even if we couldn’t easily or readily articulate it anymore.

    But after reading Jeremy’s full post, I get his analysis a little better.

    • Jeremy July 10, 2009 at 1:13 pm Reply

      The further background on this story is that the Swim Club’s President actually held a big blood drive for the Obama campaign, and was an outspoken supporter of Obama during the presidential campaign. He’s also the chairman of Peace-Action Philadelphia, a collection of “progressive” folks in the area.

      In general, I think the actions of some of the parents might be of the more vicious racism, but I think Duesler and some of the rest represent the kind of contemporary racism that is increasingly common and widely accepted–the laissez-faire variety. I actually disagree with the notion that these folks and others like them, if pushed, would eventually revert to the more biologically based explanations of black inferiority. I think they would talk about cultural values, learned oppositional behavior at home, cultures of violence etc etc. They’re “born into it” so to speak (so the logic goes), but that’s largely due to culture, not biology. Stick ’em with, Harvard educated blacks (like Obama), and they wouldn’t turn out so bad. So, racism isn’t fading, but rather shifting in its ideological justifications. Just my two cents, of course.

      • ladyfresh July 10, 2009 at 3:31 pm Reply

        i agree So, racism isn’t fading, but rather shifting in its ideological justifications. Just my two cents, of course.

        or maybe it was always present but was drowned out by the more violent aspects of racism which are now entirely unacceptable and this is what remains. mlk jr’s next agenda was going to be poverty and classist views would have gone hand in hand with that fight

      • Leigh July 10, 2009 at 7:41 pm Reply

        I didn’t know the background story – interesting. And ladyfresh’s point is a good one.

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