Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse defends family’s membership in all-white club

A reporter confronted U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse over his family’s membership in the all-white private Bailey’s Beach Club in Newport, Rhode Island.

“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 asked if the club had yet to admit any non-white members.

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

Both Sheldon Whitehouse and his wife Sandra as well as each of their families have all been members of the exclusive club for decades. Whitehouse says he transferred all of his shares in the club to his wife, who now one of the largest shareholders in the all-white club.

Whitehouse made multiple remarks regarding “systemic racism” in America after the high-profile deaths by police officers of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. In June 2020 Whitehouse released a statement saying, “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.”

However, in the eyes of many progressive activists, Sheldon’s words don’t match his actions.

Progressive labor activist Mike Araujo wrote a column in 2017 attacking the Whitehouse’s membership in the all-white club saying, “I find Senator Whitehouse’s position on his membership of the historically restricted Bailey’s Beach Club deeply disappointing yet not surprising. Racism is the air we breathe in this country, there is no place, absolutely no place that can be named that was not the site of a forcible removal or slaughter of indigenous people, or the trade, whipping, and forced labor of Black people.”

The New York Times wrote about the club in 2003, saying, “People kill to belong to the beach,… “It has really driven some people crazy when they don’t get in.”