As my mother always said, “do as I say, not as I do.” It seems U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse might share a similar mentality.
Publicly, Senator Whitehouse has proudly advocated for racial and social justice over the course of the last year, having taken senate floor to speak out against systemic racism and holding a “moment of silence” to commemorate the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor.
“Our country is at a crossroads. A nation reeling from a pandemic and an economic catastrophe that have disproportionately affected communities of color is mourning the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others,” Whitehouse wrote in the press release for said moment of silence.
“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 and meet America’s full promise of justice for all.”
While that’s all well and good, the reality is that that Whitehouse’s surname is, well, accurate. The Senator, his wife, and their families continue to remain members of an exclusive, all-white beach club, despite his increasing interest in racial justice. Per GoLovalProv, the Whitehouse family have been members of Bailey’s Beach Club in Newport, Rhode Island for several decades, and presently, Whitehouse’s wife Sandra is one of its largest shareholders. Previously, Senator Whitehouse owned said shares, only having transferred them to Sandra in recent years.
This weekend, a GoLocalProv reporter caught up with Whitehouse, inquiring whether the club had yet addressed its lack of diversity. “Back in 2017, you had expressed some concerns about the all-white Bailey’s Beach Club, said that you hoped it would become more diverse. Your family’s been members, your wife is one of the largest shareholders. Has there been any traction in that? Are there any minority members right now?”
“I think the people who are running the place are still working on that, and I’m sorry it hasn’t happened yet,” Whitehouse replied.
The reporter continued: “Do you have concerns in 2021...it’s been four years, you had remarks on the floor following the deaths of Breanna Taylor and George Floyd…hoping to root out systemic racism in the country. Your thoughts on an elite all-white, wealthy club, again, in this day and age, should these clubs continue to exist?”
Whitehouse replied: “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.”
Whitehouse then thanked the reporter and was escorted away by staff after the awkward encounter.
Well, you know what they say: Change begins at home. Or, perhaps for Whitehouse , in the exclusive beach club.