Blood boiled on Twitter on Mon., Dec. 9, after "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" cast member Brandi Glanville made a comment to a new cast member Joyce Giraud about not wanting to get into the water. The egging on to get Giraud in the water started off innocent enough. Glanville didn't want to be the only one to show off her bathing suit. But after another cast member Yolanda Foster got involved, the encouragement quickly turned into peer pressure.
According to Merriam Webster, a "peer" is "a person who belongs to the same age group or social group as someone else." And yes, Carlton, grown women can use peer pressure to bully other women. In this case, it was about swimming.
Foster made assumptions about Giraud not wanting her hair to get wet or ruin her makeup. And when Giraud said she could not swim, the conversation took quite the turn.
Glanville stated, "You're a black person." Cast member Lisa Vanderpump laughed it off while the other cast members were silent. Glanville tried to clean the comment up by stating, "It was a joke, and my black friends would have laughed crazy 'cause they don't go in the pool because they will get their weave [expletive] up."
Outside of the constant stereotypes that black people cannot swim and the asinine assumption that black women are all worried about their hair being ruined in a pool, not all black women wear weave.
However, the bigger issue is Glanville is not the first person to assume black people can't or won't swim. Not wanting to ruin a hairdo is not subject to one race. Even in the romantic comedy flick "Friends With Benefits," Mila Kunis' character Jamie didn't want to ruin a hairdo in the shower. It's reasonable for the same vain reactions to happen in real life. But there is a deeper issue with swimming pools that ignited the flame of Glanville's remark leading to the "racist" accusation.
A NY Times blog points out the historic issues behind swimming pools, specifically Jim Crow laws prohibiting black people to get into public pools. Denial to an older generation may be a direct parallel for why the younger generation has not flocked to swimming pools in the same numbers. And not all of them can blame it on weave, regardless of what Glanville may think.
According to USASwimming.org, 70 percent of African American children, 60 percent of Latino children, and 40 percent of white children have low or no swimming ability. Taking formal swim lessons can reduce the likelihood of childhood drowning by 88 percent.
Many people, including Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones, have tried to encourage more black people to learn to swim with programs such as the Make a Splash tour in New York City.
Chicagoans can also get involved in changing the dynamics of swimming statistics.
The Chicago Park District has indoor swimming lessons at the following locations. In-park registration started Mon., Dec. 9, and continues Tues., Dec. 10. The Learn to Swim fee is $22 for a 10-week session, and kids ages 6 to 17 may participate for free by using the coupon code "FirstFree."
Adults and seniors are also encouraged to learn to swim. Enter your ZIP code here for the closest locations.
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