Historical Racism Porn: Pool Party Edition
June 11, 2015, 06:26 AM
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hockney1978This week’s Biggest News Story in the History of the World has elicited learned disquisitions on the history of swimming pool bigotry for the delectation of the masses who like to get hot and bothered by Historical Racism Porn. For example, the New York Times features an op-ed:
Who Gets to Go to the Pool?

By BRIT BENNETT JUNE 10, 2015

IN a 1948 speech to fellow Dixiecrats, Strom Thurmond famously declared that the entire United States Army couldn’t force white Southerners to allow black people “into our theaters, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.” …

In a YouTube video of a pool party that took place in McKinney, Tex., on Friday, a white police officer appears to shove, handcuff and pull a gun on a group of black teenagers. He grabs a black girl by her hair and drags her to the ground. He puts a knee on her back as she screams. According to the McKinney Police Department, officers responded to calls of a “disturbance” involving multiple juveniles “who do not live in the area or have permission to be there.”

The officer in question has reportedly resigned, and the department announced an investigation. Black teenagers at the party have told news outlets that before the police arrived, they were accosted by white adults who told the black children to leave the pool and “return to Section 8 housing.”

Water has long been a site of racial anxiety. Integrating city pools has led to riots, such as in 1931, when young black men in Pittsburgh were held underwater, dragged out and beaten by white swimmers while police officers watched.

The Atlantic beat the NYT to the punch, however:
McKinney, Texas, and the Racial History of American Swimming Pools

Backyard pools and private clubs only proliferated after municipal pools were forcibly desegregated.

YONI APPELBAUM JUN 8, 2015

… As African Americans fought for desegregation in the 1950s, public pools became frequent battlefields. In Marshall, Texas, for example, in 1957, a young man backed by the NAACP sued to force the integration of a brand-new swimming pool. …

Today, that complicated legacy persists across the United States. The public pools of mid-century—with their sandy beaches, manicured lawns, and well-tended facilities—are vanishingly rare.

I guess that’s why we can’t have nice things.