Jeff Brown knows that when he dives into the chilly water of the Potomac River, he will be doing the right thing. As a kid, he heard all the myths about why black people can’t swim.
“Like African-Americans physically are built not to swim. Our bones are too dense. We sink,” he says.
It is nonsense, of course. Neither the myths, nor the teasing stopped him from being one of the few black kids in his neighborhood who swam.
“I was ridiculed because I used to swim in the winter,” he remembers. “My trunks would be frozen coming back home. They would take them from me and throw them around.”