BASN Classic Blackbox:Into The Water Pride Opens

Updated: May 3, 2008

A BASN Classic BlackBox Originally Published: March 23,2007 INTO THE WATER


Here is how

Wall Street Journal

describes the situation

” Perhaps no institution in America is less racially diverse than the Swimming Pool.” Well there is a lot of competition in America for that “honor’ (sic) but the Swimming Pool is right up there for sure.. The Journal goes on to point out that in spite of that fact and painfully ironically as a result of this situation ” Black children drown at rates far above average.”

Now a new movie opening Friday “Pride” along with other new initiatives might finally do even more than having lots of African American boys and girls learning to swim.

Swimming which is almost as natural as walking. Even more maybe this will be the start of serious African American participation in the very big Sport of competitive Swimming nationally, internationally and most notable every 4 years in the Summer Olympics. At least Hope can Spring Eternal !

You can view the “Pride” trailer right here at BASN. The movie recounts in full dramatic fashion a true local hero in Philadelphia African American Jim Ellis, a parks department recreation coach in the Brotherly Love City who turned an abandoned pool into a Black success story. Swimming success.

The plot is familiar. It has been repeated again and again in Sport after Sport. But this story cannot be told too many times until every last Sport in America has been fully integrated. And there are so so many yet to go.

In “Pride” we begin with the rundown facility – in this case even beyond rundown abandoned and without a drop of water in sight – then the miraculous revival by one incredibly dedicated and selfless individual with a Dream. In this case Jim Ellis. The disenchanted also largely abandoned young African Americans who first belittle their would be Savior and what he tries to tell them. They can Swim ! Followed by the tentative interest that turns into a Burning Desire.

That reveals tremendous Talent that is unleashed and motivated. Then the inevitable contest competing against all White teams swimmers who mock the presence of Blacks in “their” all White Sports. The self doubts and anger of the young African Americans. And the ultimate triumphant when it comes down to the actual competition the swimming meet and who is Truly Best.

All of these African American success stories in Sports are always based on verified real life experiences because otherwise many of them would seem “unbelievable” for 2 contradictory reasons. 1) That African Americans could overcome such entrenched obstacles, and 2) how could such blatant Racism really exist in American society in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

In the world of Swimming beyond this stellar new film “Pride” which you are commanded to go see now and even more if you have children to bring them – there have been some too too few recent Big League success stories in Swimming for African Americans. Two to be exact. Cullen Jones who last year became the world’s fastest sprint swimmer. The other is Sabir Muhammad who is the first African American to ever set an individual national swimming record.

Here is the Biggest Fact of All

Given encouragement and the same amount and kind of pools available to White Kids all over Suburban America as an automatic and widespread benefit of living and going to school on “better” communities – given real pools to swim in from grammar school through high school and coaches and teams to compete for African American boys and girls would do every bit as good as and we’ll say it here BETTER than many of the competitive young White swimmers.

On an even more Basic Level

Returning to the Wall Street Journal revelation that while many Black kids don’t have access to water artificial as in pools or natural as in oceans there are far more Black boys and girls who die from drowning proportionally. That at least should be a National Scandal that would lead to remedial legislation and states requiring aquatic equality for African American kids. Don’t hold your Breath !

As always in the Spirit

of Marcus Garvey and many others

and in Swimming the Legendary

Philadelphia Hero Jim Ellis

African Americans got to do it

’cause nobody else will

now grab your kids

Go see “Pride”

then SWIM !