U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)

Rhode Island Progressive Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse Defends His Membership to an Elite All-White Private Beach Club

In a blow to voters and political supporters in Rhode Island, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has come under fire for not only belonging to an exclusive all-white private beach club — but also for defending his membership and saying he doesn’t think it’s a problem.

According to NBC News, reporters asked Whitehouse on Friday, June 18, about his membership to Bailey’s Beach Club in Providence, Rhode Island, which has a reputation for being an “elite all-white” club for the wealthy.

Whitehouse, who claims to be a frequent opponent of “systemic racism,” told reporters that Bailey’s does have a diversity of membership and is “working on improving diversity.”

Originally known as the Spouting Rock Beach Association, Bailey’s Beach Club opened 124 years ago and boasts roughly 500 members. In all that time of business, the club doesn’t appear to have ever had a non-white member. According to NBC News, “Whitehouse promised to quit his membership in the club when he was running for Senate in 2006, but [instead, he later] transferred his shares to his wife.”

As the bad press against him began to gain steam, Whitehouse said in another interview with GoLocal Providence that he supports the owners’ efforts to bolster diversity, even though it hasn’t happened in over 100 years.

“I think the people who are running the place are still working on that, and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet,” Whitehouse said.

When GoLocal asked Whitehouse if “elite all-white wealthy clubs” like Bailey’s should still exist, he said, “it’s a long tradition in Rhode Island, and there are many of them. I think we just need to work our way through the issues.”

He later backtracked on his statement, saying the publication “got its facts wrong”; what he meant to say was Bailey’s has “a long tradition of it being a family club.”

Richard Davidson, a representative for Whitehouse, later told NBC News that the club has no “restrictive policy.” Davidson also said Whitehouse has “dedicated his entire career to promoting equity and protecting civil rights.”

As far back as the early 2000s, locals say Bailey’s Beach Club has had a troubling history with its membership and an overall lack of diversity. In a 2003 New York Times article, one member said the club did have Jewish members, but “not really” any Blacks, although one patron supposedly had “grown biracial grandchildren who would sometimes visit.”

 

Related: For more recent diversity and inclusion news, click here.

 

Latest News

Census 2020 map

Biden Administration Exploring Policy Changes To Make US Census More Accurate and Inclusive of Race and Ethnicity

President Biden and the U.S. Census Bureau are hoping to revive a previously proposed policy that would allow the 2030 survey to ask more accurate questions about race and ethnicity — and by extension, improve the quality of demographic data acquired and used toward policymaking, voting districts, and enforcing civil…

Starting a Family With the Help of Capital One

Originally published at capitalonecareers.com. Capital One Financial ranked No. 28 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Kevin and his husband Craig were ready to start their family. While they had a friend offer to be their surrogate, due to same-sex surrogacy regulations in their…

Achieving Your Goals With Capital One

Originally published at capitalonecareers.com. Capital One Financial ranked No. 28 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.   Daniel knew he’d do whatever it took to make his dreams come true. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Daniel grew up facing a lot of obstacles, including…

Rep. Joyce Beatty

Rep. Joyce Beatty and Voting Rights Activists Arrested During Peaceful Protest in Senate Building

Protests continue across the nation’s capital in an effort to rein in racist anti-voter legislation taking place in states such as Texas, Florida, and Georgia. And now, those efforts have progressed to the level where elected officials are getting arrested for supporting every American citizen’s right to fairly and legally…