Both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Congressional Black Caucus were radio silent on Monday after news broke that Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) defended his membership to an elite, all-white beach club.
Breitbart News reached out to both the NAACP and the Congressional Black Caucus for comment regarding Whitehouse’s extra-curricular activities. Neither organization responded.
Whitehouse, who decried systemic racism following the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, has frequented Bailey Beach Club for decades, GoLocal Providence first reported. While the 124-year-old club can’t legally mandate that its members be “all white,” its lack of diversity was first documented back in 2003 in the New York Times:
Diversity, of course, has made scant inroads on the Newport of Bailey’s Beach, whose membership profile might be defined less by who people are than what they are not. “Jewish, yes,” Audrey Oswald, a lifelong member replied, when asked about the club’s demographic composition. “Blacks, not really,” Ms. Oswald added[.]
Whitehouse defended his Bailey Beach Club membership, officially known as the Spouting Rock Beach Association, to a reporter on the eve of Juneteenth National Independence Day.
“It’s 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, thank you,” Whitehouse said when the reporter asked him if a wealthy, all-white club like Bailey’s should still exist in 2021.
GoLocal Providence first began reporting on Whitehouse’s membership in 2017, but he and his staff “repeatedly refused to respond to questions” about his membership at an event in Newport.
“I think it would be nice if they (Bailey’s Beach Club) changed a little bit, but it’s not my position,” Whitehouse told GoLocal Providence news editor Kate Nagle.
When asked if he would pressure the club to push for diversity at the all-white club], Whitehouse said, “I will take that up privately.” He then told Nagle he had no further comment and walked away.
Whitehouse reportedly promised to give up his membership in 2006, though “give up” is a technical term. Instead, he “resigned” in 2010 by transferring his membership to his wife, who is now one of this all-white club’s biggest shareholders, Breitbart News reported.
According to Vice Media, a Whitehouse spokesman insisted that Bailey’s Beach Club wasn’t all-white.
“But [he] repeatedly refused to offer any evidence of that claim or explain the apparent discrepancy between Whitehouse’s own remarks and his claim,” according to the report.