June 21, 1949 was the first day black people were allowed in St. Louis municipal swimming pools.
As reported by the St. Louis Post Dispatch on the 60th anniversary, the decision to integrate St. Louis municipal swimming pools sparked the most widespread racial violence in the city’s post WWII history.
Rampaging youth and adults roamed Fairground Park wielding knives and bats and attacking as they wished, when they wished and because they wished.
It took over 400 police officers 12 hours to restore “order”.
The pool riot jump started the movement for racial justice in the city that still works today…because racism still exists today (just read some of the comments to the Post’s article)...because there are still people who think black people are inferior and that they should be able to avoid us and the dangers we bring.
I’ve always found that curious…that the ig’nant point to concerns that our children will change the environment of a place even as their public displays of racism lower the standards of the place they say they are so concerned about maintaining standards at.
Pause...allow to marinate...continue.
Because roaming a public park with bats and knives and beating the shit out of children, women and men while crying out that y’all are doing it to protect your community from black people and our anti-social behavior is pretty damned illogically fucked up.
Just like the club members in Philly clutching their children to their sides and complaining that they fear what those black kids will do to their children, steal from their children and teach to their children is ig’nantly illogical…and, in my opinion, verbally abusive to the children of color and the white children who overheard that evil ig'nant shit.
But fueling the ig'nance is the public perception that black people are dangerous violent fiends bent on getting our freak on wherever we go. Even now some knavish troll is typing a comment defending that opinion…as if I am not black, as if I don’t know what black people are like, as if I have not experienced racism that had nothing to do with me opening up a can of whoop ass up in a public place (never, though I have been tempted)…as if their knavish ass needs to help me understand that the black America I know isn’t the real black America but some separate exception to the rule that has confused my fragile little mind.
When I turn on the television I rarely see black America…I see what the media defines as black America. That’s not to say we don’t have problems…obviously we're not the only ones…but day camp kids in a summer youth program trying to have fun isn’t one of them.
I grew up in St. Louis…in a city where a riot broke out in the 1940’s because they tried to integrate the municipal pools.
And when I went to a pretty public pool in St. Louis county in the 1980’s I watched as parents clutched their children to their sides and whispered instructions on how to avoid me in their ear…I listened as one parent told another “Great, now they’re living out here! There goes our property value.” I hurt as one asshole kid approached me and told me to go to the black people pool…to get out before I stank up the place. And, when I told my mother, I watched tears of disgust and frustration well in her eyes…that not a damn thing had changed but the date and that her children should experience America’s most consistent national product – hate.
Now we have Philly and a two part incident of racism – part one being the comments made by club members, loud as hell because we all know that they were really hoping to upset the kids enough that they would voluntarily not come back and part two being the club’s initial statement.
The thing is that the club president was right – the black and Latino children came to the pool to have fun and play and, judging from the members' reactions, that might not be the reason folks go to that club pool or are members of that club.
Even as I find comfort in the news that other clubs like the Jewish Community Center (yay!) have invited the summer camp kids to come on over and play I can’t help but feel sorry for the children of the people at the club at the center of this controversy and for the community they will one day build having been raised by ig'nant assholes (shudder).
Lawd, have mercy...