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Racial Segregation in Swimming Sessions: Racist policies alive and well in 2007 January 2, 2007

Posted by C.A.R.D in Card, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, Racism, Racist.

Shame to start the New Year on a low point but best start as soon as possible to call to account those apparently determined to undermine some of the better forces for good from the world of sport: a British local authority that counts Anita Lonsbrough, 1960 Olympic swim champion among its most famous locals, has been fiercely criticised for holding ethnic-minority only swimming sessions.

Wolverhampton City Council has, in its infinite wisdom, elected to hold black and Asian-only swim sessions and has employed specific lifeguards and teachers to back its policy of discrimination.

The council claims that the weekly sessions are aimed at women and children with “religious or cultural issues which would otherwise prevent them from taking part”.

Not a good move if you don’t have the same policy for all ethnic and religious groups. And that way lies madness, of course.

The hour-long, Thursday evening sessions at Wolverhampton’s Central Baths have replaced an aqua-aerobics session that was previously open to all sections of a multi-cultural society.

The council’s scheme receives backing from the British federation sponsor, Kellogg’s, and its Swim Active programme. The federation has actively campaigned on anti-discrimination matters before, while Kellog’s, which has funded the installation of special blinds around the pool, designed to protect swimmers’ privacy, has no history of supporting discrimination.

Would Kellogg’s contemplate, for example, different packaging on its cereal packets to pander to the many different religious and ethnic groups that presumably munch on its cornflakes each morning. Mmmm, rather more than merely doubtful.

Conservative MP for the area, Andrew Rosindell, called on the council to explain itself, telling local reporters: “This seems to be exactly the sort of thing that creates division and resentment rather than bringing people together. I’d like to know what the logic behind this is. It sounds like a pretty bad idea to me and just the sort of thing that councils should not be doing.”

A Wolverhampton City Council spokesman said complaints about the scheme had been received by reception staff at the baths. She said: “It is one of the most ambitious schemes in the country and aims to tackle childhood obesity, engage the city’s ethnic minority communities and work with children who fear water. An initial trial of eight weeks is providing an opportunity for women and children from ethnic minorities, who may not otherwise participate for cultural and religious reasons.”

Best intentions perhaps. Worst outcome assured. Imagine, for instance, what would happen if a major municipal pool anywhere in Europe, in Australia, in North America, and just about anywhere else you care to mention, set aside evening sessions for white people only. It used to happen. We’ve moved on. Haven’t we?

Time for Kellogg’s and the British federation to remind the Midlands council that sport, including swimming, is for all, an environment free of segregation and discrimination – of any kind. Time to drop the Doublespeak of positive discrimination. Discrimination is negative. On that score all involved in this sorry state of affairs could learn much from those at the helm of Olympic sport, the IOC, FINA and nations such as the United States, whose development programmes for less developed nations have often been exemplary.

Time to remind all who wish to swim in the public enviroment, one build on the back of funding garnered from taxes paid by all, that people who cannot abide co-mingling with neighbours of a different race (or religion) should either build their own backyard pool and get on with it in the privacy of their own embarrassment or, as one British commentator put it “forgo their swimming practice and thus, if they are unlucky enough to fall into a river, or are brusquely pushed, should be left to drown quietly”.

Take Action:

Contact Kellogg’s:

Kellogg’s Email Contact Form

Contact Wolverhampton City Council:
Phone: 01902 551155 (General enquiries)

E-mail: city.direct@wolverhampton.gov.uk

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: Swimnews.com

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