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The Negro and Learning to Swim

Saturday, September 26, 2009
(Above) Sculpture at an artist's studio in the Marais (Paris, France); Photo taken 26 September 2009
There is a myth that is alive and well about people of African descent and their alleged inability to swim. The root of this myth is likely established because of a 1969 book entitled The Negro and Learning to Swim: The Buoyancy Problem Related to Reported Biological Differences. Anthony W. Harding of South Africa sums up the report (on his Facebook page) as follows: The authors concluded, based on a survey of students at universities in the USA, that blacks couldn't swim, because (it was said) blacks have heavy bones (and other genetic and physical characteristics). Harding goes on to say: In a recent series of Survivor South Africa, the black contestants were shocked when they were challenged in the early moments of the reality competition as a weak link in a tribe on the assumption that they couldn't swim - which was later shown to be false, with black competitors showing overall prowess in relation to other contestants.
Likewise, in a recent Survivor: Samoa (on U.S. television), teams selected their strongest teammates to compete in a multi-course challenge and an African-American was selected (and won) the swimming leg. One of the contestants said he was surprised that an Afro-American could swim since they aren't known for that. (Egads.) Visiting the Caribbean alone would dispel that myth; not to mention the U.S., Africa, etc.
Can you swim? She can.



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