• Hillaree

I'm Black Every Month: Why Black People Wear Socks & Sandals to the Beach

I'm Black every month of the year, but in February...I'm EXTRA BLACK!

Happy Black History Month y'all!

In honour of this special month, we're going to lay down the facts. Why? Because education is elevation. This week, we'll be deconstructing the stigma around many Black people not knowing how to swim, and assist in birthing a mindfulness that acknowledges the historical impact. If this post causes you to pause and reflect for even just a second, then my mission has been accomplished! For the next three weeks, we'll be uncovering the history behind three different topics in celebration of this lovely month. Happy reading! ✨

Why don't Black people swim?

Did you know Black people are FIVE times more likely to drown than white people? Why is that? It probably has to do with the fact that many Black children & adults simply do not know how to swim. Now you're probably wondering, why didn't they learn to swim when everyone else was learning to swim? Well folks, the history of discrimination has largely contributed to both drowning and swimming rates within the Black community. So let's get into it...

Around the 1920's, swimming for fun became extremely popular, and surprise, surprise, guess who was denied access to pools?

Black people of course. This resulted in swimming never becoming a part of Black recreational culture, and being viewed as a 'white sport'. Let's fast forward to the 1940's and clap our hands because segregation at the pools has finally come to an end! WOO! Let's just say our white counterparts were not pleased with this shift. So guess what they did? They abandoned the public pools, and went swimming at private clubs that still enforced segregation. After that happened, maintaining public pools was no longer a priority, leaving pools murky and with low water levels; making it impossible to swim in.

We tried to build pools in Black communities, but they were so small that you couldn't actually swim in them. Thus, there was no real effort to teach kids how to swim in these tiny pools. If you wanna know why they didn't learn to swim before the 1920's...hello, slavery! You think they had a chance to go for a daily swim to build up their swimming skills? In fact, the fear of water was taught. Fear of water was instilled into the minds of our ancestors in order to prevent them from swimming away and escaping their masters; especially during transport. Just imagine if they were able to conquer their fears and recognize their true power!

Hopefully by now you understand a bit more of the history behind why you don't see as many Black individuals far from shore when you're on vacay, or why you see them sitting along the sidelines at your public pool. For generations the fear of water has been passed down, and from generation to generation, Black children were not being taught how to swim by their parents because their parents never taught them and so on and so forth. I know it's a new era, but the mindset runs deep. We were never shown our potential in that area, and it's going to take some more time to break this generational curse for good.

Just keep swimming...


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