Friday, July 10, 2009

Incidents at swimming pools…

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...


Unknown said...

It makes me cry when I see this shit. Then, it makes me angry...very, very angry. Children of color should not have to deal with this shit, in this era.

Anonymous said...

Stumbled on your site by way of Show Me Progress. You are successfully living up to the racial stereotype of the "foul mouthed north side black woman!" Thanks!

Shark-Fu said...

Sorry Anonymous...I'm a South side resident who learned how to cuss like this living in West St. Louis county.

But hey, thanks for sharing your own stereotypes under the cloak of anonymity...asshole!

Shark-Fu said...

Point of clarification for my non-St. Louis and International readers.

The North Side of St. Louis city is predominately black...and Anonymous assumed, much like a bigot at the Philly pool, that I must live there since I'm black...Anonymous also assumed that I'm not educated, which probably has more to do with my being black than his/her/it associating colorful language with lack of learning.

Alas, this bitch is the product of Parkway school district and suburban living with a healthy dose of a fantabulous New England liberal arts education...but, like so many things, that fails to fit the "we have reason to hate you" model fools like Anonymous are working with.


Anyhoo, I hope that clears shit up!

macon d said...

The Valley Club changed their website. I've seen both the before and after versions. Interesting how their explanation goes from "we don't want this change in the atmosphere and 'complexion' of this place" to "this place is too crowded." Transparent ass-coverage.

Rileysdtr said...

What had me on the floor in disbelief (because I certainly believe racism is alive and well) was the comment that the children had changed the complexion of the club. Grammatically acceptable use of a modifier, but COME ON spokesperson, is English your umpteenth language and you don't understand the alternate definition? I mean - my GOD you're an idiot.

Daisy Deadhead said...

Even in Ohio, I was raised with segregated pools; they were like "the last frontier"--so I am not surprised to see these vestiges of backwardness left.

Kids today don't have any idea what kind of archaic, nasty shit the rest of us grew up with ... (sigh) Sometimes, I feel like it will take hundreds of years to correct it all.

Unknown said...

Yeah, I'm inclined to say it wasn't just the racism but the racist comment to back it up that got me. And then backpedaling excuse of "We meant, it's too crowded." Bull! As if they didn't know how many children were going to be there.

I can't say anymore. It makes me too angry.

Ellen said...

I'm from NE Philly originally and it is right up against Huntington Valley - to the point where the hospital in HV is where many pregnant NE Philly give birth. Some of the parishes adjacent to mine were HV. And it is not warranted - those poor kids saying "I don't understand, these are my neighbors" is right.

NE Philly is joked about as being "bad suburbs" as it is one of the section of the city you move to to get to a better neighborhood. At the same time, it is not unlike South Philly in that a lot of the girls I went to HS with grew up to move across the street from their parents. Beyond Suburbs Minus or South Philly Plus, hard to describe to an outsider.

It's part of why I don't live in NE Philly anymore, but the racism isn't that bad in NE Philly itself. It is suburban snobbery to act as egregiously horrible as that country club. I hope they go out of business forever for that shit. And it would rule BIG TIME if a suit could be brought against those making the comments while the kids were there, allowing the families of the kids to gain possession of everything those bastards own, but probably not enough evidence. I'll settle for the club dying a painful death

wendteacher said...

I teach at a "poor" school in a "blue collar" small city in SouthEast Texas. I am furious that children, such as the ones I teach, were so humiliated and mistreated. And the general view of places "in the South", which unfortunately includes Texas, is that WE are racist and bigoted. Guess "uppity white rich folk" above the Mason-Dixon line are worse (in my humble opinion,of course.)

Jeffrey Ricker said...

You know, after reading some of the comments on the P-D story (not to mention the Anonymous asswipe above--I guess if we wanted to find out where he/she lives, we'd just have to follow the stench of rancidity), I have to say that the people of St. Louis really make me sick. They are beneath contempt.

GG in StL Place said...

Here's a great pic of the Fairgrounds Park pool this summer.

I'm up there all the time and I did not know the history. I do know that the South and West St Louis city and suburbs sure do hate us northsiders.

Jimmy said...

What was also ridiculous was that the club took campers' money with no initial concern to overcrowding. I wonder if the club has a history of selling this kind of group plan for camp kids. Kids just want to play, they don't care about skin color until they are taught to care.

AOB said...

Hatred is learned.

I remember being three years old and wanting to play with the new next door neighbor. This was an Irish immigrant family. Her parents told her to tell me that she could not play with me because I was a dirty Jew. I had no idea what a dirty Jew was so I asked my Zeidy (grandmother) what a dirty Jew was. I will never forget the look on her face. She just picked me up and hugged me.

I finally at some point figured out that they went to a church that had statues that were 'in charge of things...really' and that's why I was a dirty Jew because the statues told them I was. Amazing the conclusions that a tiny mind can come to.

I wonder if parents realize that damage they are doing to their children by teaching them that different is somehow 'bad'. If we were all indeed created by the same creator, it seems then completely idiotic for these same people, those purveyors of hate to profess belief in a supreme being.

L. Jackson said...

I must have been the most naive white kid in the world in 1949! I grew up off Holly Hills & swam all my life at Marquette pool. All the neighborhoods were seperated back then..blacks, white, spanish, etc. had a border but we kids never paid much attention to that & came together to play. It was the adults with the problems & the hatred that spilled over to some of the kids that made it ugly! What an eye-opener to learn as an adult that I was 'suppose' to hate differences...didn't stick then, doesn't now!

Shark-Fu said...

Aww now Jeff - we're not all assholes (wink).

But I've got to agree the comment section of is where the bigots like to gather.

Then again, I've lived a lot of places and the only thing that everyplace has are assholes. The accent may change but the ideology is the same.


Shark-Fu said...

wendteacher - the south has been forced through activism and the law to address a lot of the things the north has let sit and fester.

I went to college in New England and have family in the Philly a bitch when I tell you plenty of folks have some fucked up bigoted issues north of the mason-dixon.

One of those being that folks north of the mason-dixon don't think they have issues.

But folks have to admit there is a problem to start addressing the problem.

Anonymous said...

I am just glad my son wasn't there, I don't know would have strong enough to resist whippin @ss.... He has done nothing to deserve this blind hatred. As a matter of fact, have we as a black race ever done anything to warrant this hatred?

angrier white chic said...

I live in Philly, (not in the burbs) IN the city- We, in the city are shocked by this behaviour. Living in the city, we forget that this shit goes on right in our backyard. It is sad and shocking.
My next door neighbors are black, white, gay..... AND THAT IS THE WAY IT SHOULD BE! We get along fine, we like and respect each other.
I suppose the reason these racist people joined a "private" club was so that did not have to deal with us lower class city dwellers.
If they think that letting their children swim in an all white pool makes them better in some way, I find there thinking sick. To think that they are teaching their children to behave in this manner is even sicker!

NativeNYker said...

The sad part of it all is that racism - like any ig'nance - is much like a weed: long lasting.

As harsh as it is to endure it has must be done & although a hard lesson for a child to learn, it is one that needs to occur.

The world isn't tulips & daisies. Hopefully these kids have sometype of support group that will counter the hate to somehow balance it.

We've all (those of us who are of the minority types) had to experience & endure some form of bigotry. It's just life.

To think that bigotry, racism, hate & ignorance can truly be erased is in itself ignorant.

Havin said all that, I say storm the fucking pool!

Rants, Thoughts & Merde

Shark-Fu said...

NativeNYker...There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?

As for storming the pool, I can only ask to what purpose? Their ig'nance has inspired others to invite the kids to play and a discussion that has been a long time coming.

Let the club wither in the heat of their own creation...they are not worthy of a storming.

Colleen said...

I love going to the pool. I wish everyone was a little more open minded. Just be there and enjoy yourself make friends.

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