Facebook Pixel

Knowing How to Swim: Why it's so Important for Minority Kids

By HERWriter Guide
Rate This
minority kids and learning how to swim Stockbyte/Thinkstock

Historically, swimming hasn't been a big thing in the lives of black Americans. Not that they have a particular aversion to water (although a general fear of water may have been due to a lack of both access to it and water safety lessons).

No, it's because they were all but blocked from enjoying the beaches, oceans and pools that white people got to take pleasure in.

Many beaches and pools were White Only, with people of color segregated to smaller beaches and pools. I remember walking on Inkwell Beach on Martha's Vineyard several years ago, and finding out it was a minority beach.

I learned that it derived its name from such de facto segregation -- de facto because this segregation was definitely in effect but without support of law. Any other beaches in the States with "inkwell" in its name or nickname are derived from the same societal expectations of their era.

So rather than swimming, black Americans took part in other sports and activities, and most simply never learned how to swim. Unfortunately, not a lot has changed.

USA Swimming cited 70 percent of black children cannot swim, as opposed to about 40 percent of white children. While both these numbers are troublesome, the difference is also quite startling.

There are other reasons for the huge numbers of minority children not swimming, as many adult black women will tell. Pools, salt water and especially chlorinated water can play havoc with ethnic hair, and this is a hot topic with many women.

As Oprah noted, white women obsess over their weight but for black women, it's their hair. For our children, this needs to change.

Swim caps and special shampoos and conditioners for hair exposed to chlorine can help alleviate the worry over hair damage. And community pools are free or cheap for everyone to join. Swimming lessons are also offered at very low cost at most community pools.

The cost of swimming lessons is nothing compared to the loss of a child through drowning. Drowning is the second most common death in childhood.

A quick internet search or visit to a library can locate pools and lessons available.

Add a CommentComments

There are no comments yet. Be the first one and get the conversation started!

Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.