Sunday, July 6, 2008

Broken Stereotypes

When I was a kid, I used to swim. I wasn't great but I was good (at the high school level). My younger brothers were both top 25 (in the country) for age group swimmers. At the time, we were often told that we thought that we were white (by other Black children) and that Blacks don't/can't swim (by other White children). I remember kids looking at me in lane 4 (the fastest seeded lane) and laughing at the Black kid who would even try to compete in swimming. After I'd won, I'd take great pride in beating someone who thought less of me predicated solely on my race and not the race we'd swum. My boy Pitts lettered as a sophomore on our high school golf team. Ben and Davey Barnes were standout tennis players at the my high school. I never grew up thinking that one's race prohibited them from achieving success in their chosen field . We all went on to private colleges and/or universities.

On a weekend that included 41 year old Jewish-American Dara Torres qualifying for her fifth Olympic Games, the Williams sisters meeting in the finals of yet another Grand Slam tennis tournament - the most impressive stereotype dashed was the one about Blacks not being able to swim. Cullen Jones finished third in the 50m. freestyle at the recent U.S. Olympic qualifying meet for the 2008 Beijing Games. Mr. Jones barely missed qualifying for the games after setting an American record in the prelims (The record was later broken by the winner of the event's final).

Swimming is generally a young person's sport. Tell that to Ms. Torres.

Blacks don't/can't swim. Tell that to Mr. Jones.

Blacks don't/can't play tennis. Tell that to Venus or Serena. [Who actually follow a long line of Black tennis greats; Althea Gibson( in 1951 became the first Black to win a Grand Slam event in tennis ), Aurthur Ashe, Zina Garrisson, Yannick Noah, Mal Washington, ...]

Blacks don't/can't ride skateboards. Tell that to Stevie Williams.

Blacks don't/can't ride motocross. Tell that to James Stewart.

Blacks know nothing about fencing. Tell that to Peter Westbrook (the 13 time winner of American fencing championships).

Blacks don't/can't play golf. Do I even need to mention the name that's become synonymous with greatness?

The next time someone tries to impose a stereotype on your race, gender, age or culture - do what many iconoclasts have done in the past, prove them wrong by succeeding.


Cilicious said...

It's good when our cultural filters get tweaked a bit.

DPizz said...

Dude, everybody knows Black people do not have any buoyancy!