Things That Are Not Racist

A landlord putting up a “Whites Only” sign on her swimming pool? Not racist:

An Ohio landlord accused of discriminating against an African-American girl with a “white only” sign at her swimming pool told that the sign was an antique and a decoration.

“I’m not a bad person,” said Jamie Hein of Cincinnati. “I don’t have any problem with race at all. It’s a historical sign.”

The sign in question reads, “Public Swimming Pool, White Only.” It is dated 1931 and from Alabama.

Hein, 31, was unapologetic about the racist origins of the sign that she displayed at the entrance to her pool. She said she collects antiques and was given the sign as a gift. She also said that even though the sign seems to indicate that the pool is public, the pool is on her private property and “everybody has to ask before getting in my pool.”

Well, you know, no harm, no foul…

Michael Gunn, 40, is the man who took issue with Hein’s sign and filed a discrimination charge with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. He was a tenant in one of Hein’s properties.

“We invited my daughter, who is African-American, to visit and swim in the pool for the Memorial Day weekend,” Gunn wrote in his complaint. “The owner, Jamie Hein, accused my daughter of making the pool ‘cloudy’ because she used chemicals in her hair. Days later, she posted a sign on the gate to the pool which reads, ‘Public Swimming Pool, White Only.’”

Hein said that the sign had nothing to do with Gunn’s daughter and that it was already up at the time of that party, but cannot be seen when the gate is open.

Oh, well that’s better — she’d already posted a “Whites Only” sign on the pool. It wasn’t in response to the horror of having a black girl swim in the pool with her hair full of chemicals that I can only assume included radon, lead, and ricin.

I must admit, it looks pretty bad for Hein, but she’s got a solid defense.

Gunn said the family previously “had unrestricted access to the pool area,” but Hein said that was not the case. She said everyone, including her own father, has to ask permission before swimming in her pool.

See? It was on her property! That makes it totally fine for her to discriminate against people because of the color of their skin, at least if you’re Ron and/or Rand Paul.

At any rate, it’s pretty awful of the Ohio Civil Rights Commission to find that this was a violation of Gunn’s daughter’s civil rights. Hein is clearly not a racist:

“I’ve never said anything to that child,” Hein said. “If I have to stick up for my white rights, I have to stick up for my white rights. It goes both ways.”

Jamie Hein: sticking up for her white right to put up a racist sign that echoes one of the worst times in American history, just because she happens to love history. Way to stick it to the man! What’s next — them telling her to stop burning crosses on her neighbors’ lawns? She’s just a historical re-enactor!

Honest to God, the only people in this country willing to admit to being racists are decent people who abhor racism, and want to try to get beyond their own internalized racism. I’ll admit, I am racist; I try to do better, and mostly I succeed (and sometimes I fail, and try to learn from my failures), but I figure I can’t do better if I don’t own up to the problem. And the most racist thing I’ve ever done is be pretty clueless about my own privilege. Hein actually put up a “Whites Only” sign on a pool. But she’s not racist. Racists never are.

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11 Responses to Things That Are Not Racist

  1. 1
    Hugh says:

    “Honest to God, the only people in this country willing to admit to being racists are decent people who abhor racism, and want to try to get beyond their own internalized racism.”

    +1 million.

    There is no more worthless statement than ‘I am not a racist’. So many people seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that racists always self-identify as such. Au contraire, I’m pretty sure even the most egrerious cross-burning lynching-organising racist has some internal justification for why they’re not a racist.

  2. 2
    The Nerd says:

    But don’t you realize? “Anti-racism” is code for “anti-white”! [sarcasm]

  3. 3
    Dianne says:

    There is no more worthless statement than ‘I am not a racist’.

    Sure there is. Namely, the statement, “I’m not racist, but…”

  4. 4
    mythago says:

    “White rights”? Are those like “special rights”?

  5. 5
    Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Nitpick alert: Actually, there white supremacists who say they’re racists. A link that isn’t necessarily worth reading.

  6. 6
    Jarrod says:

    To be fair, that is probably the exception rather than the rule. If you look on the stormfront forums (which, again, is probably not worth doing), you will find that the vast majority deny that they are racists. The exceptions seems to be those affiliated with the Klan, and people who extol Hitler as their martyr.

  7. 7
    paul says:

    Maybe we should come up with a different word, so that no one would have to be accused of being racist, but we could still sanction people for creating disparate impacts.

    Yeah, that would work.

  8. 8
    L says:

    Didn’t Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam deny they were racist too?

  9. 9
    ThatDeborahGirl says:

    mythago says:
    December 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    “White rights”? Are those like “special rights”?

    No. White rights are normal rights. Special rights is when you treat black people like white people instead of how black people should be treated. You know what I mean? If you don’t, it’s ok. I bet that lady who put up that dumbass sign knows what I mean.

  10. 10
    Radfem says:

    People are stupid with it though which is appalling but also can make it easier to address racism in housing including rentals.

    I mean, I worked on one housing discrimination case and the apartment manager actually called someone to talk to them and the person asked them what happened to the maintenance person. The woman said oh he was let go because he had too many Black people hanging around his apartment.

    She thought she was talking to somebody at the county department of housing but actually she had called the Fair Housing Counsel (which addresses allegations of racial discrimination and other forms of housing discrimination) instead by mistake. I knew the woman at the FHC so it didn’t take much for her to agree to write a declaration on the federal complaint in terms of being able to locate her. But by that time quite a few agencies were after the absentee property owner for all kinds of violations.

    Sometimes people go out of their way to make your job easier not because they’re nice but because they just can’t help themselves.

  11. 11
    nobody.really says:

    Ohio Civil Rights Comm’n rules that sign violates state anti-discrimination laws. Shocking, I know.