Democratic Senator Defends Membership In All-White Beach Club

A Democratic senator who has spoken out about the injustice of systemic racism in America is facing criticism for his membership in a beach club whose membership is reportedly limited to white people.

This weekend, a reporter for asked Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) about his membership in Bailey’s Beach Club in Newport and asked if the club has changed its policy to allow people of color to become members.

Whitehouse said he believed that change is yet to come.

 “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. “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.”

In 2006, during his first senatorial campaign, Whitehouse vowed to quit the club, according to, but that hasn’t happened.

In 2017, Whitehouse told a reporter it “would be nice if they [Bailey’s Beach Club] changed a little bit, but it’s not my position,” but he promised to push for diversity privately.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the senator told The Washington Post that Bailey’s Beach Club ”has had and has members of color,” but a person who answered the phone at the club declined to comment on its membership to Vice.

“We’re a very small private beach club. We have no comment at this time. We’re private. Our club information is private. Thank you for your inquiry, but we have no comment at this time,” the unidentified person told the website.

The most recent census figures indicate the population of Rhode Island is about 71.4% non-Hispanic white, 16.3% Hispanic and 8.5% Black.

Many Twitter users had opinions on Whitehouse’s response.

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