National support for black women asked to leave York County golf course
John Legend, Shaun King and Soledad O'Brien are among the well-known figures bringing national attention to alleged racial and gender discrimination at a York County golf course.
A supposed dispute over pace of play Saturday, April 21, at Grandview Golf Course in Dover Township led to police being called on a pair of black female members, including York County's NAACP chapter president, Sandra Thompson.
Thompson said she was part of a group of five black women playing a round of golf, and they were initially approached by former York County Commissioner Steve Chronister on the second hole.
Chronister, who serves as an adviser to ownership at Grandview, told the women he was the owner and advised them they were playing too slowly and offered to refund their memberships, Thompson said.
Three of the women decided to leave after completing the ninth hole, but as Thompson and Myneca Ojo, of Hanover, were preparing to tee off on the 10th hole, they were confronted by a group of men including Chronister and his son, Jordan Chronister, a co-owner.
Thompson captured part of the exchange on a video, which has been viewed more than 30,000 times on YouTube as of Tuesday, April 24.
Grandview has issued a public apology, and JJ Chronister, Jordan's wife and a co-owner who was not involved in the exchange, has reached out to personally apologize to the women.
Legend, a singer with more than 12 million Twitter followers, tweeted about the story: "Please stop calling the police on black people who are just trying to live. Please. Stop. Police shoot us for no (f—ing) reason at all. Please. Stop."
Police filed no charges related to the incident, and Thompson said the police were very respectful.
King, a writer and civil rights activist with more than 1.7 million Facebook followers, posted the AP article and pointed out that "this isn't The Onion," referencing a well-known satire news organization.
Meanwhile, Grandview Golf Club in Pittsburgh appears to be facing some backlash for having the same name.
The club wrote in a tweet: "Course (Announcement): We are NOT the Grandview from the news story. We are a completely DIFFERENT and UNAFFILIATED golf course in the Pittsburgh area, nearly 6 hours from York. Please do not tweet us accusing us of racism, as you have the wrong course!"
Sandra Harrison, one of the women who left after hole 9, said she's glad the story has drawn attention to an important issue, but she's sad that this is still an issue the country must face in 2018.
Next steps: Ojo, who works as a director of diversity and inclusion for the state Turnpike Commission, said she's trained to understand discrimination, and she was able to easily discern that Grandview discriminated against her group.
JJ Chronister has pointed out that they've asked other players to leave for pace-of-play issues, per club policy, but Ojo said the only rule they broke was "playing golf as black women."
The five women are part of a local women's golf group that has been around since 2008, and they understand golf etiquette. They got permission to play as a group of five — golf groups are usually limited to four — and they kept the group playing ahead of them in their sight at all times, skipping hole 3 to keep up, they said.
While most of the social media response has largely been supportive of the women, Harrison said she's noticed some hurtful remarks from people claiming the women went to the golf course looking for trouble.
"We just wanted to relax," she said. "Golfing is an outlet for us ... a stress reliever."
Ojo said she doesn't respond to those types of comments because she finds they come from people with strongly held beliefs who just want to add their perspective.
JJ Chronister has offered to meet with the women, and Thompson has suggested a community discussion, but Harrison and Ojo aren't sure what the next steps should be.
Ojo said she's still processing the "horrific incident," but she hasn't ruled out meeting with JJ Chronister.
Harrison said she sees a potentially great opportunity to engage in constructive conversation, but right now, she's just afraid to return to the golf club.
— Reach David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.