kkatowll: (Mexican moon)
[personal profile] kkatowll
I was thinking about my Girl Scouts when Simone, a black swimmer, won gold last night.

During one of the dream chart exercises, something like 9 or 10 years ago, they said a dream would be learning to swim. I was like, we could do that!

No, Damara said, black people don't swim.

After all - their parents didn't swim, no one they knew could swim, and there were no pools in their neighborhood at which they could learn to swim.

So I drove them to Guilderland and the YMCA let them swim for free for months til they all learned how.

And then we moved on to other things and pretty much never thought about it again, except that I didn't worry quite as much about them drowning on camping trips and at Six Flags.

In fact I haven't thought about it in years. Then two days ago Damara - who is now in grad school, can you believe it?!?! - posted on Facebook pictures of cliff jumping with her friends.

Because she can swim.

I AM SO FUCKING PROUD.

And then to see Simone try, hesitantly, to talk about that without out-and-out saying "black people don't swim" - a loaded concept about pools being for whites only for far too long and slaves not being allowed to learn to swim because they could escape more easily, and other historical facts that people find it convenient to forget.

So she hesitantly said she had the weight of the black community on her shoulders and she hopes to inspire more kids to swim.

YES.

What I would've given to have someone like her to point to when my scouts said black people don't swim!

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Kathleen

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