Dating & Marrying Ethnic Men

Question of the Week: Why Won’t My Black Girlfriend Swim with Me?

This question appeared on dating expert extraordinaire, Deborrah Cooper’s Surviving Dating.

Now normally, I take her advice with the same reverence as I would Dr. Oz and sometimes Oprah, when she’s not on some cosmic rant about finding your inner voice and saying “AHA!” for just about everything from marriage to eating two dozen donuts alone in a closet.

But Deborrah and I have a slight difference in opinion. So… I’m going to add a bit of comedic (yet true) commentary along with Cooper’s response.

Try to keep up, okay? My stuff is in []’s and blue. Get some coffee or something.

— Christelyn


Dear Ms. HeartBeat:
Growing up, swimming was such a huge part of my summer fun. I can’t remember ever not knowing how to swim. It’s as natural to me as walking [Does this dude have fins? Is he a mer-man?] and to my White friends and family. It never ceases to amaze me when I meet adults who can’t swim, especially Black people I date Black women and wanted my girlfriends to go swimming with me. But my Black friends never had much interest in swimming when we were kids, and as adults they have no interest in swimming at all. Other than something traumatic that caused deep phobias, why would someone never learn how to swim or even want to? [Four words: It MAKES US ASHY!]

Ms. HeartBeat Responds:

Believe it or not, people DIE in water. It’s called drowning [especially if you have cement blocks tied to your feet, but anyway…] Not only that, people with high muscularity, dense skeletal systems, and low levels of body fat sink in water [Ms. Heartbeat, who you talkin’ bout? I know PLENTY of black women with TONS of fat and would probably float in the water better than an inner tube and they STILL won’t go near a pool!] Swimming is not fun at all for Black people that are not overweight (as the fat helps keep you afloat). Lean, muscular African Americans struggle to stay on top of the water and generally sink like rocks [What about those cute little floaties that you blow up and put around your arms? They look like swimming wings]

See! Floaties work GREAT on my baby boy!

Notice that you don’t see Black folks involved in swimming competitions! Also, there may be some cellular level genetically based repulsion with water [Come on, Deb, you’re making us look bad. I have ABSOLUTELY NO REPULSION to showering and bathing] Lots of our ancestors jumped off slave ships and committed suicide in the water, were picked up and returned to the ship, or made it to shore half dead rather than live in slavery in the U.S. Even those that stayed on the ship suffered horribly and saw nothing but ocean for weeks.

Historically, African Americans don’t have fond memories of large bodies of water, okay?

Black women have their hair to consider. Chlorine dries out Black hair and causes severe breakage if not washed and conditioned thoroughly soon after exposure. If a woman wears her hair in a press, the water will undo her hairstyle within seconds [Yep, like Puffy Needs a Comb forreal!] Even if she wears her hair straight from a relaxer, repeated exposure to chlorine will cause her hair some serious problems. We love pool parties though! Black women will sit by the pool or river and look cute, or may stand in the water (while keeping our hair dry). We are not very likely to jump in and start swimming [unless there’s vodka involved,of course].

Anyway, swimming is not the fun you describe. Being in lake or pond or river water with fungus and single celled parasites and disgusting fish and God knows what else decaying upstream is not fun! Being in public pools with urine and poopy diaper toddlers and adults that should know better than to blow snot in the water is even nastier! [Prime example: The Hudson River! Who swims in that cesspool?!]

If one is aware of such bacteria and nastiness and does not find pleasure in putting one’s body and exposing ones skin, mouth, eyes or body orifices to such disgusting nonsense, why would you even question why someone would not want to learn to swim? [Well, because there’s these things called PRIVATE swimming pools, free of fungi, bacteria, and baby poop. You know what? Many of us STILL won’t swim in it.]

Under the circumstances the better question is why would anyone want to!


Sidenote from Christelyn: Swimming is not my favorite thing. Maybe because the shock of that cold-arse water is a turnoff. Now, if swimming pools were more like taking a warm, sudsy bath, I’d probably be down. But as it stands, pool swimming and chlorine make my skin shrivel like a prune and takes weeks, yes weeks, to recover. At least it SEEMS like weeks. So my husband takes the kids swimming, and I’ll stick a toe or two in and just look sexy in my bikini whilst reading David Sedaris.

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