I'll let you in on a poorly kept secret. I love Philadelphia! Yep. You got it. Cheese steaks, soft pretzels, Mummers' parades, the Eagles, the Sixers, the Phillies, the Broad Street Bullies, butter scotch krimpet Tasty kakes...ok. ok You get it. But most of all, I love the Temple University Hospital Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine where I served my residency.
That experience taught me to love all things Philadelphia. Well...all but one. I don't love Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. And lo and behold, they are in the national news for the very reason that bred my contempt as a junior orthopedic resident in '93.
The Valley Swim Club apparently is now carrying the mantle for Huntingdon Valley, Pa. The swim club recently barred a group of Black children from using their facility. It didn't matter that the summer camp participants had pre-paid the fee and were well behaved. Members complained that the campers "changed the complexion" of the swim club.
Under intense public scrutiny, the president of the Valley Swim Club has re-stated their official position. He states that the children were barred because they taxed the capacity of the facility. Are you serious? It's a swimming pool. What he meant to say is that the children revealed the truth about a community.
Why do I care? I am one of those children.
In 1993 when I was in the early stages of my orthopedics residency and romance with Philadelphia, I looked forward to my program's Annual Alumni Weekend. It would be my official induction into the Temple Orthopedics Family. To say that I along with all of the other young residents was very excited was more than an understatement. It symbolized everything that we had worked so hard for.
Unfortunately, it was to be held at a private country club in Huntingdon Valley, Pa. An elder friend at the hospital told me that the only way I would be welcome at that country club was as a caddy or cutting the grass. I inquired and was told that the country club had no Black members but Charles Barkley had played there once as a special guest.
Many intelligent, well meaning people feel that since a Black man has been elected President racism no longer exists in America. President Obama is a powerful sign of progress not proof of the eradication of racial bigotry.
If the recent vicious act of hatred at the Holocaust museum, the constant filth spewed by shock jocks and TV pundits, the aspersions cast towards Supreme Court nominee Judge Sotomayor or the latest actions of the Valley Swim Club don't cause you to consider that the journey towards a 'more perfect Union' may not yet be complete, I don't know what will.
I love all things Philadelphia but Huntingdon Valley, Pa. not so much