“Why Black people don’t swim”

Before I continue with part three of our assignment I thought I should note that I have chosen to switch my topic of choice from football to swimming. I have found it more interesting only because I have personally engaged with this sport for a longer period of time.

“Why Black people don’t swim” is one stereotype that has developed over time since the 1940s. In Finlo Rohrer’s BBC News article “Why don’t black Americans swim?” mentioned the historical origin of this stereotype when white swimmers responded to the end of segregation in pools by abandoning public pools and joining private clubs.

This stereotype pertains to specifically African Americans of all ages. Also, after understanding the origin of where this began it seems to pertain mostly to the lower class in crowded city areas where larger pools were not affordable. One assumption made with this “typical” representation of African Americans is that they particularly do not wish to swim because of their hair.

I think it is difficult to relate to this particular stereotype considering that I am not African American, but I can understand to an extent. There were not a lot of Asian American swimmers on my high school team. It was usually the norm to find Caucasian males and females on most teams, but rarely any Asian team members. In this case, I can in some ways relate in that I will not find a number of Asians as do, African Americans with their race, on swim teams.


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1 Response to “Why Black people don’t swim”

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I would enjoy hearing a bit more about how else you have seen this stereotype perpetuated in culture/media/your experience. The histories of segregation around swimming are significant, as you mention. This could be an area worth further exploration if this aspect of culture and swimming interests you. The intersection of class and race is worth considering in greater depth. What do you see as the role of gender or sexuality? Do other differences seem to matter?

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