There's a new effort to end the racial disparity that exists in swimming.
Currently, nearly 64% of Black children can't swim, putting them at risk of drowning. That's compared to 40% of white children.
Black People Will Swim is one company trying to change that. It just launched low-cost classes in Long Island, New York, but its goal is to expand across the country.
“I had a client of mine tell me, ‘Hey you know I can't swim because my bones are too dense.’ And from there, it was from there I did my research and realized that, well if she takes this racist narrative as her truth, how many other people do we know that can take a false stereotype or racist stereotype as their truth?” said Paulana Lamonier, founder of Black People Will Swim.
Black People Will Swim is also hiring Black instructors because the founder says that representation is important to help kids see learning to swim is possible from someone like them.
The company is also raising money to build one of the first Black-owned swimming pools in the country.
“Ownership is important, you know? When we are renting pools from owners, from colleges, from swim programs, or things of that nature, we are now at the mercy of them right? And so, how often do you hear a Black-owned swimming pool, you know? We hear Black-owned salons, Black-owned barbershop, Black-owned restaurants,” said Lamonier.
Black People Will Swim is also focused on educating people of color on caring for their hair during and after swims.
Until they expand, they're hoping everyone will sign the pledge to learn how to swim wherever lessons may be available.
You can sign that pledge at BlackPeopleWillSwim.com.
The YMCA and USA Swimming have also created opportunities for anyone to get low-cost or free swim lessons. For more information, visit YMCA.org or USASwimming.org.