Thursday, November 07, 2019

"Swimming While Black": why PoC kids don't learn to swim even today

Swimming While Black: Why So Many Black People in the U.S. Can’t Swim”, from Al Jazeera (Qatar, yes).

While leisure time increased after WWII, prevailing attitudes feared men and women of different races meeting in an intimate space.  Other problems, including segregation and the remants of Jim Crow laws, kept pools segregated.

An incident in the 1960s, where acid was thrown into a pool, may have helped prompt the Civil Rights Act.

In the 1970s, especially in some larger cities in the South, white flight to distant suburbs increased, and suburban communities had private clubs for pools that could restrict access.

A woman in South Carolina, Genesis Holmes, vowed to change this after a drowning in 2014, with a Generis Project to bring swimming lessons to her small town.

I did not learn to swim as a boy.  My father tried to get me to at a local pool in Arlington VA when I was a teen.  In PE in high school, we did not have a pool in 1961 so you didn’t have to pass swimming in high school.  You did in college, and I managed to dogpaddle across a YMCA pool (at GWU) but somehow lost the skill later.
Private pools were not common in the 50s when I grew up, but a friend in Falls Church had one.
One friend told me that at Duke, she was expected to pass a water survival course and stay afloat for an hour. 

In competitive swimming, shaving down and peaking would curiously be a psychological issue for only white swimmers. 

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