I was really excited when our family was given the opportunity to use a new friend’s pool membership. Whew! It was so hot that summer. My family was new to the area and we didn’t know many people in the community, but my son had struck up a friendship with “Zeb” (name changed).
Zeb was an African-American boy about the age of my eight-year-old son. We invited Zeb to go swimming with us at the pool and we spent the day splashing and enjoying the coolness of the water.
Later that evening, I received a call saying that Zeb wasn’t welcome at the pool because other members had complained about having a “black” person at their pool. I think I was astonished at first, but then several different feelings filled me. Anger, shame, sadness and resolution all took their places inside me.
I discussed this with my husband and we decided that one way we could take a stand was to not use the pool anymore. We had to explain to our children why we wouldn’t be going to the pool anymore and, surprisingly, they both understood.
I know this story isn’t grand and it doesn’t involve a lot of people, but for that one hot summer, Zeb, a young friend of my son, mattered very much to me and my family. And today, though they live in different towns, my son and Zeb are still friends.