"I literally scared the heck out of folks who have never seen a black brother that far out in the ocean. "


In answer to the Day 4 Question “Can You Swim?”

When I started reading this section in the book I almost fell out of bed from laughing so hard. I’m from the 60s generation and living in Newark, NJ at the time the Black rite of passage for us was to sink or swim at the public pool in the summer. I preferred to swim and not get drowned by my fellow bros as we clamored for space in the pool. Back then your best bet was to swim to the deep end of the pool where we knew we could escape the drowning “fun” just have some fun playing “Sea Hunt”.

After graduating in high in 1971 and joining the US Marine Corps I really began to swim. Survival swim that is, like with a full pack on my back and rifle with the expectation that it probably take more than an hour to be rescued if you fell overboard. I always told the other brothers I wasn’t gonna get that close to edge at which point we all laughed.

Swimming really gets the conversation flowing, especially when you snorkel in the coastal waters of St. Thomas.  I literally scared the heck out of folks who have never seen a black brother that far out in the ocean.