DEMOCRATIC Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has been slammed for his membership at an allegedly all-white Rhode Island beach club.
Whitehouse, who speaks out against racism regularly, dismissed his involvement with the elite club as a “long tradition in Rhode Island.”
Whitehouse dismissed his membership at an allegedly all-white beach club[/caption]
Bailey’s Beach Club in Newport is reportedly considered one of the most elite in the country[/caption]
The 65-year-old senator and his family have been members of Bailey’s Beach Club, also known as Spouting Rock Beach Association, in Newport for at least 20 years.
Whitehouse was asked by local outlet GoLocalProv if the beach club had started to accept non-white members yet on Friday.
“I think the people who are running the place are still working on that and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet,” he said.
When he was asked if all-white clubs should still exist in 2021, the senator said they are a “long tradition in Rhode Island and there are many of them.”
“And I think we just need to work our way through the issues,” he added.
Members told local media that Whitehouse’s wife attends the club every day in the summer[/caption]
The senator has reportedly been a member for at least 20 years[/caption]
When the outlet first brought the beach club up to the senator in 2017, he said that it would be “nice” if the exclusive spot “changed a little bit.”
When asked if he would pressure the club into attempting to become more diverse, the senator said he would take it up with the club “privately.”
The Rhode Island lawmaker has been widely slammed online, with many people taking to Twitter to question how the same story would be reported differently if Whitehouse was a republican senator.
Many also pointed to Whitehouse’s support for racial justice movements in the wake of George Floyd’s death in May 2020.
Shortly after Floyd was killed, Whitehouse released a statement that said: “We hear the voices of the peaceful protestors who have marched.
“We can and must do better to root out systemic racism in its many forms.”
A spokesperson for Whitehouse on Monday said that the beach club, considered one of the most exclusive in the country, has “no such restrictive policy,” according to the New York Post.
“The club has had and has members of color. The Senator has dedicated his entire career to promoting equity and protecting civil rights, as his record shows.”
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It’s not clear how many, if any, non-white members the club has. Spouting Rock Beach Association’s website is only accessible to members.
Whitehouse has reportedly transferred his shares at the club to his wife Sandra Thornton Whitehouse, but is still considered a member.
The senator’s wife reportedly visits the club almost daily in summers, according to members GoLocalProv interviewed.