Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Racial History of American Swimming Pools

The article below is from the Atlantic Magazine.  It talks of the history of swimming pools, public pools in the US with regard to the events that took place in McKinney Texas last week when an armed burly white police officer was caught on video using unnecessary force against a young black 15 year old girl who as far as we know had done nothing that required treatment.

The first time I read anything about segregation, racism and swimming pools in the US was in Robert F Williams' Negroes With Guns. In this book if my memory serves me right, Williams and other were picketing a public swimming pool for the right to swim in it.  They won that battle I believe but the water would have to be changed before whites could use the pool after blacks.  It is bizarre when one thinks about it as I'm sure white folks weren't loathed to have a swim their pet dog.  But this was life in the Apartheid US South.  Here is the article from the Atlantic that gives a little background to McKinney, Texas as well.

Atlantic Magazine

McKinney, Texas, and the Racial History of American Swimming Pools
Yoni Appelbaum

 On Friday, a large group of teens gathered for a pool party in the city of McKinney, Texas. Shortly thereafter, someone called the police. And by Sunday night, as footage of the police response spread across the internet, the McKinney Police Department announced it was placing Eric Casebolt, the patrol supervisor shown in the video, on administrative leave.

It is the latest in a string of incidents of police using apparently excessive force against African Americans that has captured public attention. And it took place at a communal pool—where, for more than a century, conflicts over race and class have often surfaced.

The video shows a foul-mouthed police corporal telling the young men he encounters to get down, and the young women to take off, although far more obscenely. When several seated young men appear to ask, politely, for permission to leave, he explodes at them: “Don’t make me fucking run around here with thirty pounds of goddamn gear in the sun because you want to screw around out here.” The corporal was white. The young people he detained were, almost without exception, black.

The video next shows him repeatedly cursing at a group of young women, telling them to move on. Then he wrestles one to the ground. As bystanders react in horror, and several rush toward the young woman as if to her assistance, he draws his sidearm. They flee. He returns to the teenager, wrestles her back down, forces her face into the ground, and places both knees on her back. Continue reading here.

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