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Comments by YACCS
Friday, August 18, 2006

Tramm Hudson Just Lost

Tramm Hudson, with the brains of a small turtle, says colored folk can't swim. He forgets to mention that white folks would allow black people to swim one day a week and then drain the pool because of colored people cooties

Maxine Haynes
B.A. Sociology, 1941
Retired clinical nurse and nurse educator

From the time she was a little girl growing up in Seattle in the early 1920s, Maxine Haynes wanted to be a nurse. Though her family was poor because of the Great Depression, Haynes and her two sisters were destined to attend college.

There were no more than 20 black students in the late '30s. An avid swimmer now, Haynes recalls dropping a swimming class because "no one liked us," she says. "It was as if they had never seen black people before. They didn't like me swimming in the pool. I felt so isolated and ignored. The teachers always helped the white students, but didn't pay any attention to me while I was thrashing back and forth with no help."

In the Minority

Every year, minorities make up a disproportionately large number of drownings in the United States. This first of a two-part series examines the scope of the problem and why the aquatics industry has failed to address it. | by Shabnam Mogharabi

On May 17, the city pool in Bridgeport, Texas, was packed with seventh graders celebrating the end of the school year. Some were enjoying the barbecue; others were splashing around in the water.

Luis Gonzalez, a friendly Hispanic boy with playful eyebrows and a sweet smile, was one of the revelers. The 13-year-old was standing at the edge of the pool near the deep end when a classmate reportedly pushed Gonzalez in and watched him sink to the bottom, arms flailing. The student said nothing, and lifeguards found Gonzalez unconscious minutes later on the floor of the pool.

Despite prayers and vigils by family and friends, Gonzalez died 12 days later.

“It’s just tragic and unfortunate. It should never have happened,” said Richard O’Hara, superintendent of the Bridgeport School System.

The truth is, this tragedy would never have happened had Luis Gonzalez known one basic skill: how to swim. Unfortunately, like far too many minorities, he never learned.

As a result, minorities make up a disproportionate number of drownings in the United States every year. In 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, nearly 650 children between the ages of 5 and 19 drowned. More than 40 percent of the victims were minorities.

The problem is even worse among black children between the ages of 5 and 19, who are 2.6 times more likely to drown than whites.

Such high rates among minorities, who make up less than a quarter of the U.S. population, signal a systemic problem in the aquatics industry. Experts say minority kids are not learning to swim as often or as well as their white counterparts. They blame a number of thorny issues surrounding the problem — race, class, culture, privilege, poverty — that make it difficult for the industry and minority groups to attack the problem head on.

Meanwhile, few lifeguards, leaders or role models of color exist in the world of swimming. Though some aquatics professionals have taken steps to address the minority drowning problem, experts say the industry has not done enough. And every year, children such as Luis Gonzalez suffer the deadly consequences.

posted by Steve @ 12:21:00 AM

12:21:00 AM

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