Swimming while Black

Black Swimmers Overcome Racism and Fear, Documentary film by RetroReport

I know how to swim because my mother saw to it.

My aunt saw to it.

I remember learning on a cross-country road trip. Every hotel on our AAA Trip-tik route had a swimming pool. Evenings, my aunt took me out, held me up and by the end of summer and our long trip I had become a swimmer. I was 5 years old. My mother watched, laughed and stayed in the shallow end. I didn’t know it but she was not yet a swimmer like me.

Really only at the very end of this short film did all of these memories come flooding back. I only remember that learning to swim was a family non-negotiable. Decades later I can piece together where some of my mother’s urgency came from.

Watch the film. Black folks swim.