Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Black kids between the ages of 10-14 drown at a rate that is 4.5 times white kids their same age. Contrary to the myths about buoyancy, bone density, and other assorted nonsense, there is no legitimate reason for this disparity.
My sixteen-year old daughter is a varsity swimmer. She and her younger brother have been swimming from an early age, as did I. Although being a competitive swimmer encourages the accusations of ‘acting white’, she is undaunted because she has been taught to think past it.
Interestingly enough, her grades improved when she joined the swim team, although the workouts have given her less time to study. One reason might be that the swim ‘crowd’ is markedly more academic than her other friends, but good exercise feeds the brain too. She continues to like rap/hip-hop music, but has also added alternative rock to her iPod playlist.
It was heartening to see Cullen Jones, a champion swimmer, who happens to be black, swimming in World Championships in Melbourne, on the same team as the phenomenal Michael Phelps. Perhaps the wake of their exploits will encourage black kids to challenge accusations that only thwart their advancement.
I was lucky. I learned to swim at the YMCA some forty years ago, long before my Jesuit educators required it of me. I taught swimming, diving, and lifeguarded as well, on my way to becoming more comfortable with challenges errantly considered the purview of whites. I was rewarded by these experiences one day when I rescued a young girl, a black girl, who was drowning unnoticed in a busy pool.
I hope that Jones’ success, along with courageous kids, like my girl, ultimately bring the drowning and injury toll down for blacks. The sooner, the better. Go Cullen!
James C. Collier
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Technorati Tags: Acting White: The Swimming/Drowning Gap, Racism, Drowning, Nike, Cullen Jones, Acting White