CONGRATULATIONS Cullen Jones! Olympic First..Part 1

I was watching the 2008 Olympics on tonight in Beijing and I happened to be watching swimming. I, like many Americans, have been intrigued by the US Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps quest to win 8 Gold Medals in a single Olympics, which would break Mark Spitz's record of 7 in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. During the 3rd leg of the 4*100 Free-Style relay, featuring Michael Phelps as part of the relay team, I saw a dark skinned streak flying through the water for the Americans. As NBC showed a side shot, I realized that there was a black dude swimming for the American Team. I yelled out to my wife, Sister Dale, "Baby, there is a brotha in the water swimming for the Americans!" The Americans SMASHED the French, who had made the statement earlier in the meet that they would CRUSH the Americans in this event.

Before I go any further, I want to point out that Cullen didn't win the Gold Medal alone. He was a part of probably the best 4*100 swimming relay team in sports history as proved by this team of Americans smashing the World Record in this event by over 4 seconds. But the accomplishment is none the less impressive. The first African American Swimmer to win Olympic gold is the man pictured on this post, US Swimmer Cullen Jones. As many of you know, part of the feet I am attempting through this blog is to bring to light some of the amazing accomplishments of African Americans who participate in sports not normally participated in by black folks. Pictured in the right margin of this blog are some of those African American firsts. Cullen gets added now!

If you are wondering why this is such a joyous moment for me, when I was growing up in the 1980's and early 1990's, I lived in a place where there were HUGE stereotypes of black folks. Unfortunately, many of those stereo types didn't come from people of another race, but from the blacks within our community. If you were black, in Waterloo, Iowa when I grew up, if you tried to participate in any other sport besides Basketball,Football,Track and wrestling (in that order), you were considered 'Trying to act white'. Stupid I know. Not many blacks where I come from could swim either. The stereo type in those days was 'Black people can't swim because we can't float.' So basically, when the generation before us gained the right to get into the same swimming pools as whites, my generation succumbed to a racial stereo type that kept us from pursuing greatness in the pool.

Obviously Cullen Jones didn't and now he has the distinction, as a swimmer of African American descent to be the first to win an Olympic Gold Medal in the pool. Keep handlin' your bizness Cullen!


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