Black People CAN Swim: Simone Manuel Takes Home Gold

Real talk? I can’t swim. And if you’re Black, and reading this, chances are you can’t swim either. Statistics show that nearly 70% of Black people living in America can’t swim. According to the Center for Disease Control:

Black children ages five to 19 die from drowning at a rate 5 1/2 times higher than white children.  The Washington Post. 

More than that, swimming pool access for Black people in the US has always been a challenge.13901478_10153897017353391_3521828995807460228_n

I did not have a pool growing up, my family didn’t take beach or poolside vacations, and my friends didn’t have pools either. The only swimming pool in our town wasn’t within walking distance so going there made it virtually impossible. My parents worked many jobs and getting us off to swimming classes wasn’t a huge priority.

I didn’t start taking lessons until I was already nine-years-old, and full a fear. Short story: I was too scared to learn.  Fast forward 20+ years later and here I am. I love the water. LOVE the water, but I still can’t do more than stand in it.  And I know I’m not alone, which is why Simone Manuel’s win is so incredibly important.

simone-manuel-wins-gold

Yesterday, Simone Manuel became the first Black woman to win an individual swimming medal in an Olympics. A gold medal, at that.

first African-American woman to win an individual swimming medal in an Olympics

first African-American woman to win an individual swimming medal in an Olympics
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 11: Penny Oleksiak of Canada and Simone Manuel of United States hug after the final of the Women’s 100m Freestyle on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

 

TOPSHOT - USA's Simone Manuel (L) and Canada's Penny Oleksiak react after they equally won the Women's 100m Freestyle Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016.   / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS        (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT – USA’s Simone Manuel (L) and Canada’s Penny Oleksiak react after they equally won the Women’s 100m Freestyle Final during the swimming event at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016. / AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

Simone broke down in tears during the award ceremony, stating:

simone-manuel-crying
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 11: Gold medalist Simone Manuel of the United States celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women’s 100m Freestyle Final on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

This medal is not just for me, it’s for some of the African-Americans who have been before me and been inspirations. I hope I can be an inspiration for others…The title ‘black swimmer’ makes it seem like I’m not supposed to be able to win a gold medal or break records.

But she did win, and we couldn’t be more proud.

 

Well Hello! My name is Lisa and you’ve stumbled upon my own little corner of the world. I’m a lipstick-loving, high heel junkie, mom, and wife. When I’m not here bringing you the latest in beauty, fashion, hot topics, and bits and pieces of my life with my family, you can find me over on youtube swatching lipsticks and sharing my latest natural hairstyles. Make sure you also follow me on Instagram and Snapchat under my brand name Lisa A La Mode. I’m a real person. I promise.

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