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Father in Racial Dust-Up Leaves YMCA

Kenneth Boston

By Layla Garms

The African American man who said that he and his family were called the n-word by a white woman at the Winston Lake Family YMCA has cancelled his Y membership.

Kenneth Boston said the July 28 incident and what he calls Winston Lake Y officials’ lackluster response to it have negatively impacted his family. The 52-year-old father of seven said he and three of his children were subjected to racial epithets while exercising on the Y’s indoor track. Boston said he immediately reported the actions of the woman, another Winston Lake Y member whom Boston says repeatedly used the n-word to refer to him and his 16-year-old autistic twin boys. He is not satisfied with the Y’s response to the incident. He believes the woman’s actions warranted an immediate cancellation of her membership, but that has not happened.

Winston Lake Branch Director Terry Matthews told The Chronicle last month that both Boston – who admits to telling a staffer after the incident that he “should’ve thrown that white woman over the rail –” and the other member had been reminded of the YMCA’s Code of Conduct (a claim Boston denies) and that the issue had been resolved. The branch subsequently posted the Code of Conduct in several areas of the facility. It states, in part, that the YMCA “insists that individuals using this facility demonstrate caring, responsible, respectful and honest behavior” and that the organization does not permit “profane language or actions that can hurt or frighten another person.”

Earlier this month, Boston said he was asked to attend a meeting at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church with Matthews, Vice President of Operations Richard Daniels, Winston Lake Y Board Chair Robin Richards, Y Board member Wayne Hosch and Rev. Willard Bass, founder of the Institute for Dismantling Racism and a Winston Lake Y member, to discuss the incident.
Boston said the meeting felt more like an “interrogation” than a mediation session.

“They weren’t hearing anything I was saying. The first thing that came out of their mouths was, ‘We call ourselves the n-word everyday, what’s the big deal?’” he said. “That was the way they came at me with it.”

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