Strong opinions, weakly held

Why African Americans can’t swim

A Florida House candidate has apologized for remarking that based on his experience, African Americans generally can’t swim. What fascinates me is that he has obviously not put any thought toward why that might be. In Baton Rouge, Lousiana’s city park, they have a swimming pool that’s been filled with dirt. It was open for public use until a federal court ruled that the pool must be opened to both blacks and whites. Rather than allow blacks to use the pool, the city chose instead to just fill it in. (A woman who was arrested and charged with disturbing the peace when she tried to integrate the pool was pardoned last year by Louisiana’s governor.) Maybe the fact that blacks in his home state of Alabama often didn’t know how to swim should have inspired a bit of reflection on Tramm Hudson’s part.


  1. The thing is, though he obviously phrased it in a way that reveals his lack of forethought, he’s not wrong, in this context, is he? There are obviously some terrible reasons for the statement being true, but I don’t think that the idea, per se, is racist. Sucks all around.

  2. This is why I love your writing, Rafe — where I read this story on the wires today and just shook my head, you went further and saw it for the greater statement it was. I commend you; keep up the great work!

  3. Why African-Americans Can’t Swim

    Why African-Americans can’t swim….

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