Olympian Cullen Jones Learned about Swimming while Black

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[Olympian Cullen Jones]
Men's Health: “I’m gonna be honest with you, Cullen. That is what racism is. Because of the color of your skin, she thinks you should be doing a stereotypical Black sport...The real reason she was upset is because you beat her son.”
Photo: YouTube

Olympian Cullen Jones learned about swimming—and winning—while Black.

It was my mom who insisted I learn to swim. I was five when I nearly drowned in a water park, and next thing I knew I was swimming with a diverse team in Newark, New Jersey.

My parents worked, so sometimes I had to take two buses to get to practice every day, but I loved it. Everyone else around me was playing basketball, playing football, doing all these…I’m not gonna say stereotyped, but normal Black sports. And there I was: a swimmer. Later, I was on an all-Jewish team at a JCC, and I never felt an ounce of racism being the only Black kid.

I was 16 the first time I had someone say something to me.

It was at a swim meet. I had just won the 50-meter freestyle. I was so excited. I walked up to my parents and was like, “I did it!”

And then this mom came by me and said, “Shouldn’t you be playing basketball?” and walked off.

My mom—she’s my rock—was about to yank that woman. But my dad grabbed her, came to me, and said, “I’m gonna be honest with you, Cullen. That is what racism is. Because of the color of your skin, she thinks you should be doing a stereotypical Black sport. Swimming is a white-dominated sport, son. The real reason she was upset is because you beat her son.”

Read the rest of this Men's Health story here: https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a33546637/cullen-jones-racism/

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