National Public Radio reports that the city was concerned that most of its lifeguards at the city pools were white. So in its efforts to recruit lifeguards, a city officials stresses to potential employees that strong swimming skills are not required for the job. "We will work with you in your swimming abilities," the city's Melissa Boyle said.
One of the reasons for this outreach is that at many pools most of the swimmers are black or Hispanic. The city is concerned that the children might not relate to a white lifeguard.
"The kids in the pool are all either Hispanic or black or whatever, and every lifeguard is white," she says, "and we don't like that. The kids don't relate; there's language issues." I wonder what society would tell a bunch of white kids who refused to cooperate with a black lifeguard simply because he was black.
I can't imagine that there are many black parents who would prefer that their children be watched over by an incompetent black lifeguard instead of a competent white one. Is it so important to have a black-skinned person sitting in the lifeguard chair that we are willing to let children drown?
Here's a passage from the NPR story:
"Honestly, I have a little bit a fear of the water, and I wanted to overcome that fear," says high school junior Jesus Jimenez. He didn't grow up going to pools with his family but likes the idea of lifeguarding.Just think, this program purports to take teen-agers who are afraid of the water and turn them into strong-swimming lifeguards in the space of two or three months. That's what Hope and Change and Baloney is all about.
"It is nice to have the satisfaction of knowing that if somebody is in trouble you can save them at any time," he says.
If he is selected to be a lifeguard, other pool staff will work with him on his swimming skills all summer.