Black people can’t swim.
Black people don’t swim.
I’ve heard those two phrases repeated a thousand times.
And not only in the African-American community.
But in diverse settings.
It’s as if there is some unspoken law that bodies of water are off-limits.
We can hang out on boats, poolside or even at the beach.
But there will be no actual swimming involved.
It’s even become a running joke.
Any comedian (regardless of skin color) can pull of a joke about a black person and water and get laughs.
But like the saying goes,
“It’s all fun and games until somebody get hurts.”
And that’s exactly what happened this past summer.
And if the drownings weren’t enough to break our hearts.
The story behind the drownings completely floors me.
One child was in danger of drowning;
Six others attempted to assist him (with one making it back to shore safely);
And a crowd of parents, adults and other children stood by.
Now why would parents and adults just stand by and watch their children drown?
Because they couldn’t swim.
Not one of them had enough swim experience to even attempt to save that first child.
And the consequence:
Six children died.
As a parent I cannot begin to imagine what was going through the minds of those who stood on that shore.
Or even come close to understanding what it must have felt like to watch loved ones perish.
But I can say that as a parent, it is my responsibility to ensure that my child is prepared for life.
Prepared in any and every way possible.
And I personally strive to live up to that responsibility.
For that reason, my son has taken swimming lessons 4 of the 7 3/4 years of his life.
It wasn’t cheap and I am in no way rich.
We are a single income household.
But living in Southern California, surrounded by beaches, lakes and pools;
I realized the importance.
And sacrificed so that we could afford them.
Beyond the swimming lessons,
I give my son ample opportunity to practice his newly developed skills.
Practice makes perfect.
And when it comes to swimming,
Practice doesn’t just make perfect, it saves lives.