Woman explains how the ‘Black people can’t swim’ stereotype is linked to segregation in a TikTok video

A TikTok video explains how the ‘Black people can’t swim’ stereotype is closely related to segregation.

  • TikToker states that the ‘Black people can’t swim’ is not a stereotype but history.
  • Maya Echols links the fact that 64% of Black children in America cannot swim to segregation in an eye-opening video.
  • According to Echols, Black people feared swimming for decades because of white individuals who used to throw “cleaning supplies or acid into the pools.”
Credits: Maya Echols / TikTok

Maya Echols stunned all of her 475,000 TikTok followers by linking a widely-known stereotype about Black people with segregation, as UNILAD reports. She posted a video where she explains the exact reason why many Black people, including her own grandmother, don’t know how to swim.

In the TikTok video, which has been viewed over 3.7 million times, the young woman says:

“64% of black kids in America do not know how to swim. This is not a stereotype. This is history!”

A 2017 study found that 64% of Black children in the US didn’t know how to swim, compared with approximately 40% of white children. According to the Department of Health and Social Services at the University of Memphis, variables that were negatively associated with swimming ability include “fear of drowning, being African American, and being female.”

Maya then goes on to explain what history and segregation have to do with the statistics.

She says:

“Aside from the fact that slaves were chained together and throw into the ocean off of ships, in the 1920s, when Jim Crow laws were in full effect, public swimming facilities such as pools and beaches were segregated by race.

However, Black people still faced violence and harassment within their own community.”

The young TikToker shares even more details that clarify the reason why Black children are being stereotyped as non-swimmers:

White people would come to these public swimming pools and throw cleaning supplies or acid into the pools while Black children or families were swimming in them.

This lasted for decades and it caused a widespread fear of pools within the Black community. During de-segregation in the late ’60s, white people still did not want to swim with Black people because they viewed them as dirty, so they got pools in their own backyard.”


My grandma didn’t swim for this exact reason, let’s not act like black people got their rights a long time ago.

♬ original sound – Maya Echols

According to Maya, not being able to swim became a “common trait within the Black community” for generations. Since parents never learned how to swam as kids, they were not able to teach their own children to swim.

The video ends with terrifying footage from June 18, 1964, in St. Augustine, Florida. It shows a man dumping cleaning chemicals inside a pool, while several Black people are having a swim.

Credits: Maya Echols / TikTok

One of the millions of horrified viewers commented:

“It’s crazy how much we’re kept from learning in the US school system but this is SO significant.”

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