Historically, swimming hasn't been a big thing in the lives of black Americans. Not that they have a particular aversion to water (although a general fear of water may have been due to a lack of both access to it and water safety lessons).
No, it's because they were all but blocked from enjoying the beaches, oceans and pools that white people got to take pleasure in.
Many beaches and pools were White Only, with people of color segregated to smaller beaches and pools. I remember walking on Inkwell Beach on Martha's Vineyard several years ago, and finding out it was a minority beach.
I learned that it derived its name from such de facto segregation -- de facto because this segregation was definitely in effect but without support of law. Any other beaches in the States with "inkwell" in its name or nickname are derived from the same societal expectations of their era.
So rather than swimming, black Americans took part in other sports and activities, and most simply never learned how to swim. Unfortunately, not a lot has changed.
USA Swimming cited 70 percent of black children cannot swim, as opposed to about 40 percent of white children. While both these numbers are troublesome, the difference is also quite startling.
There are other reasons for the huge numbers of minority children not swimming, as many adult black women will tell. Pools, salt water and especially chlorinated water can play havoc with ethnic hair, and this is a hot topic with many women.
As Oprah noted, white women obsess over their weight but for black women, it's their hair. For our children, this needs to change.
Swim caps and special shampoos and conditioners for hair exposed to chlorine can help alleviate the worry over hair damage. And community pools are free or cheap for everyone to join. Swimming lessons are also offered at very low cost at most community pools.
The cost of swimming lessons is nothing compared to the loss of a child through drowning. Drowning is the second most common death in childhood.
A quick internet search or visit to a library can locate pools and lessons available.
CNN followed the story of Wanda Butts, whose 16-year-old son Josh drowned in a rafting accident. He wasn't wearing a life jacket and could not swim.
Ms. Butts had said her fears for her son were geared to violence or car injuries and the fact that he couldn't swim never occurred to her. She then did some research and realized that too many black children in America have never been taught water safety -- something she herself never had.
As a tribute to her son, she set up The Josh Project in Toledo, Ohio, to offer kids swimming lessons and teach kids about water safety.
CNN refers to the Centers for Disease Control for the statistic that black children between the ages of 3 and 15 are three times more likely to drown than their white counterparts.
Ms. Butts wants this to change and the Josh Project has helped over one thousand children to date. A child does not have to be a minority to join, all children are welcome. Four weekly lessons cost $10 -- something that's very affordable for most parents, and the investment might just save their child's life.