Tramm Hudson to Sink for Saying Blacks Can’t Swim?
Erick Erickson has a post at Redstate entitled, “Tramm Hudson Destroys Himself.” Hudson, is “the current front runner in the GOP primary in FL-13, the Congressional District being vacated by Katherine Harris.”
The post includes a video of Hudson casually talking to an audience about how he learned growing up in Alabama that blacks can’t swim.
It’s a damned silly thing to say in the current political climate, to be sure, although certainly not the silliest I’ve heard this week. Although the clip is truncated, I gather from context that he was going to spin a tale of teamwork and racial harmony from his military days. Ironic, that.
This is in the same category as when Cubs manager Dusty Baker (who is black) said a while back that white players do not do as well in the heat as blacks. There are many racial stereotypes that persist, most of them at least benign in their intent. Blacks can’t swim. Whites can’t jump or dance. Asians can’t drive but are great at math. They’re probably harmful in some sense, because they cause people to think of racial groups as monoliths, but they’re of a completely different order of magnitude than traditional bigotry.
UPDATE: Reader JackDrew provides a transcript of Hudson’s remarks, via Redstate, in the comments below. It pretty much confirmed my initial suspicion: Hudson isn’t particularly bright but he was well meaning. His reasoning vis-a-vis the role of the Chaplain’s Corps and his understanding of what the word “manifold” means leaves much to be desired.
UPDATE (Steve Verdon): Another commenter pointed to this article by the U.S. Olympic Committee on blacks and swimming. Basically the gist of the article is that there is an aversion to both swimming and learning to swim in the black community.
Stay out of the water.
That’s the message about swimming that many African-Americans have heard for generations — from slave owners, from segregationists, even from their own parents.
The price they pay can be counted in deaths.
Black children drown 2.3 times more often than their white peers, according to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among 10- to 14-year-olds, black children drown at five times the rate of white children.
I found this part interesting,
Jason Alexander, an 18-year-old African-American lifeguard at the Teaneck Swim Club, learned to swim after almost drowning at age 3 while playing in a friend’s swimming pool on July 4.
“I was struggling and I went under but they pulled me out before I went unconscious,” he said. A year later, he almost drowned again in the very same pool, again on July 4.
“My parents got tired of seeing that,” Alexander said. “They put me in swim lessons the next day.”
Alexander became a strong swimmer and specialist in the butterfly stroke on the Teaneck High School swim team. But when he attended regional competitions with the Hackensack YMCA team, he stood out. “You could definitely count on one hand the black swimmers,” he recalled.
My son swims competively and like Mr. Alexander, you could count on one hand the number of black swimmers on the team (out of about 150). So, based on the transcript I agree with James that the comment most-likely was ham-handed and not intended to be racist.
UPDATE (James Joyner): Hudson has issued a strong, straightforward apology:
“I said something stupid. I apologize for it and would apologize in person to anyone hurt by my comments. To those who are understandably offended, you have my deepest apologies and I want you to know that it was out of character for me and those who know me know that to be a fact. This was a thoughtless remark that does not reflect my lifetime commitment to treating everyone fairly and without bias. I apologize to everyone who is offended by this comment.”
via Greg Sargent.