Random thoughts and views of Tim Young

Black Anomalies 1 – Cullen Jones

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I can remember doing swim qualification in boot camp for the Marine Corps. The qualification levels ranked from class 4 to class 1 (and a rarely obtained class that was above class 1).  Our task was to achieve the highest qualification we could.  Well, I made it to class 3…barely.  Since I felt confident in my achievement I thought I could make class 2 as well.  Boy was I wrong. The first part of class 2 required that a recruit swim nearly the entire length of the pool on their back, in full gear while carrying a rubber rifle. I tried, but it wasn’t happening.  I swam for all of three meters before giving up.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do it; I did–every part of me wanted to make it–it was just that my body didn’t seem to work correctly.  My legs sank, my arms worked overtime, and I moved with all the style and grace of a monkey trying to peel a frozen banana. I tried desperately to move somewhere, but despite my best efforts I got nowhere.  This brings us naturally enough to that dreaded stereotype: Blacks can’t swim.  Much like the notions that white men can’t Jump, and Asians are phenomenal at math, this stereotype is as persistent as they come.

Well, apparently our first black anomaly didn’t know about this.

Cullen Jones

Cullen Jones is the first African American to share in a world record setting swim relay, and is just one of three African Americans to make the Olympic swim team. His official site list him as the “first African-American Male to win a Gold Medal at the World University Games,” the “first African American to break a world record in swimming in an Olympic contested event” and “the second African-American in history to win an Olympic Gold medal in swimming.”  One thing’s for sure, Cullen Jones apparently didn’t know that African Americans can’t swim, and this makes Cullen Jones my first Black Anomaly.  Bravo Cullen Jones!


Written by Tim

February 10, 2009 at 4:32 pm

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