I do not know if my late grandfather knew how to swim. But perhaps if I researched my family history I might learn a lesson of oppression. I doubt it however. That's because my grandfather was orphaned by the flu epidemic of 1918, and no matter what is said about the conditions of blacks in Connecticut in the 20s, it was certainly worse for foster children. Not that I would take any such stories of oppression to heart. It's not like me, and it surely would not be what Chico would have wanted me to consider at length.
But since I've been talking about the lack of the Southern Negro and in parallel never shy to criticize any lack, weakness or dysfunction calling itself 'black', I thought I would update and exemplify a lack that doesn't require a degree in comparative anthropology to comprehend. It is a story that might be familiar published in the wake of the Olympic victory of the now forgotten Cullen Jones.
Nearly 60 percent of African-American children cannot swim, almost twice the figure for white children, according to a first-of-its-kind survey which USA Swimming hopes will strengthen its efforts to lower minority drowning rates and draw more blacks into the sport.
Stark statistics underlie the initiative by the national governing body for swimming. Black children drown at a rate almost three times the overall rate. And less than 2 percent of USA Swimming's nearly 252,000 members who swim competitively year-round are black.
USA Swimming is teaming with an array of partners — local governments, corporations, youth and ethnic organizations — to expand learn-to-swim programs across the United States, many of them targeted at inner-city minorities. One of the key participants is black freestyle star Cullen Jones, who hopes to boost his role-model status by winning a medal this summer at the Beijing Olympics.
I introduce this as a family matter as a typical tactic of the political Right. You remember the old axiom - the Right uses the strenghts of the family as a defense against the dysfunctions of government, the Left uses the strengths of the goverment to overcome the dysfunctions of the family. While I suppose we could always meet in the middle in the form of institutions and charities and those old 1000 points of light, I must say that I'm always biased in favor of self-determination.
Like any other gripe of the emergent, it is easy to cite statistics and point fingers and come up with a perfectly logical activist agenda. It's not so easy to accept the equilibrium as it stands. But I think this simple case illustrates the differences in approach. Clearly there is something amis that can be corrected, but how? Now let's see how deep a fight we can get into over this.