This Magic Moment
One day after Simone Manuel’s historic gold medal Olympic win I find myself in a swimming pool.
I’ve been wanting to swim all summer and finding a decent, affordable, public pool in the tri-state area is darn near impossible. But today I finally made it there- a rare occurrence after I turned 18 and stopped attending church camp. Simone’s win, my longing desire to get in some water coupled with 90 plus degree weather seemed like the world was screaming “swim,” so I did.
My swimming is nothing special. I can float, tread water and when I’m feeling bold take a few strokes. I am part of the black population that never learned to swim. I have vivid memories of my grandpa stating, “I don’t get in nothing deeper than the bathtub. So if I drown you know it was murder.” And let's be honest, the history of blacks in America and water is deep, no pun intended.
While at the pool a young black girl and her dad were there. He was instructing her. Giving her precise instructions on how to swim and improve. The young girl beautiful and full of energy in her yellow swim cap- wanting to learn yet play with the other teenagers in the pool. I was reminded of the Williams sisters and their dad who coached them, his tennis knowledge gained from books.
The father at the pool coaching along, “Two strokes in the water one stroke out…Look at your surroundings…You’re not even looking where you’re going…” A steady stream of encouragement mixed with strategic critique- I was enthralled watching.
As I sat there I thought “go girl”- mentally cheering her and her father on. I thought “she could be the next Simone Manuel.” BAM, did you catch that? She could be the next Simone Manuel. That statement hit me like a ton of bricks in that moment.
In less than 24 hours what was once unfathomable now seems attainable. That thought so easily raising in my head because now I see potential, possibility and promise that was not there before for black girls who swim.
That is the power of this moment. The power of black women and men whose magic is on display at this year’s Olympics. It is potential realized. It is history making and breaking. It is daring.
And that is what is magical about Simone Manuel and Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas and Laurie Hernandez and Serena Williams and Claressa Shields and Ashleigh Johnson and Ibtihaj Muhammed and Darryl Homer and Shakur Stevenson and…