Swim club’s reputation swirling around the societal drain

A protester holds up a sign against the Valley Swim Club in surburban Philly.

A protester holds up a sign against the Valley Swim Club in surburban Philly.

By Gregory Moore

Ahh the pool of humanity and civility.

Got to love it; especially in the city of Brotherly Love.

But for the Valley Swim Club, the beleaguered organization that has now become the poster child of what is wrong with racism today at this moment that pool of humanity might as well be dry as a bone or a mud hole.

The club is facing a couple of civil rights lawsuits and its reputation is hanging by its collective fingernails on the diving board.

The club has been targeted for how it treated 65 children who traveled with the Creative Steps Inc. day camp to the Huntingdon Valley club June 29. The children said they heard racial comments by club members who left the pool when they arrived. The club later refunded money paid by Creative Steps and revoked its summer swimming contract.

Now maybe there are some who think that this isn’t a big deal but as anyone of color will tell you, unless you are in ‘their’ shoes, and live ‘their’ life, you cannot tell anyone of that persuasion that they are making something like what happened with Creative Steps up.

“The outrage of having to go through this, with an African American president in 2009 – we don’t take this kind of stuff lightly in America anymore,” said Montgomery County civil-rights lawyer Brian Wiley, who is not involved in the case lawsuit.

Wiley’s point is what everyone should be saying right now.

We shouldn’t be still fighting this type of issue in 2009.

Granted this country has come a long way from the Jim Crow era but it has also come a long way from the Joe McCarthy hearing days too.

But this country, and its society, still has a very long way to go and when today’s problems are visited upon tomorrow’s youth, this country is in deep trouble.

Thus club president John Duesler not only exacerbated an already contentious problem of race; he compounded the problem by his statements earlier this month and has continued to step into the racial quagmire.

To date, Duesler said he would resign his post from the club.

The problem with that decision is that it does not help what has already transpired.

The mistakes that were made were long before Creative Steps’ money was taken.

Nobody on the board thought to adequately solve the problem of overcrowding and safety with ANY type of daycare because they didn’t think it was going to be a problem.

Yet that is the problem with a lot of organizations that have volunteers on their boards that are NOT qualified in such matters.

That is what got the club and Dueshler into this whole mess of a situation to begin with and it will be their lack of experience in dealing with the media and civil rights legalese that will probably sink the swim club.

A lawsuit needs to be filed against the club but there needs to be the ‘right’ one.

Right now this is nothing more than a witch-hunt and it is not helping anyone in this situation.

Maybe lawyers like Wiley can help broker a settlement that is fair and just for all parties.

But until that happens, the Valley Swim Club’s reputation is on life support and unless someone finds a way to save the club’s future, both it and any civil rights’ justice’ for the kids of the daycare will be swirling around the drain of despair and hopelessness.

And that too is something we shouldn’t be facing in 2009 either.

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