Frightfully, it is coming to this in the great quest to seek affirmative action in every aspect of life in the United States.
Why am I frightened?
Because it appears that one American city, and a surprising one at that, is recruiting non-White lifeguards to protect swimmers in the city pools this summer.
Nothing wrong with that on the surface.
But when you read this piece over at National Public Radio, you will see why I am frightened.
It appears that an experienced swimmer need not apply for a lifeguard position if he or she is White.
Because the Asian, Black and Hispanic kids that swim in the pools really, they want someone that looks like them. And talks like them.
Read this line from one Kelly Martinez, who actually works for the city of Phoenix as she explains this effort at minority outreach and hiring:
"The kids in the pool are all either Hispanic or black or whatever, and every lifeguard is white and we don't like that. The kids don't relate; there's language issues."
Close you eyes at this point if easily offended because I am not holding back my disgust.
What the fuck?! What the hell is this nit wit talking about?!
We don't like that "every" lifeguard supposedly at the city of Phoenix public pools are White? Really?! So, let me ask you Miss Martinez, would you rather have this scenario. No lifeguard at said pools because the minorities you are trying to outreach and give employment can not meet the minimum requirement. Like basic swimming. And a person dies in a pool. Or many. Because the people did not like looking at the White kid that they do not relate to?
Well, Miss Martinez goes double-down on this theme. Miss Martinez proceeds to put this kid on the spot:
Martinez turns to a Latina student next to her. "Do you speak Spanish?" she asks. "We need more lifeguards who can speak Spanish."
I repeat my plea from above. WTF?!
So, if I understand Miss Martinez, it would be better to have a less qualified Hispanic lifeguard that spoke Spanish and could "relate" to the Hispanic kids than to have one that may not be realatable but able to potentially save a life, right? And I suppose in Miss Martinezland, we need Blacks for the Black swimmers and Asians for the Asian swimmers, right? Nevermind that once you go Asia, better make sure it is the right one. You know, a Chinese speaker. Oh, make sure fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin.
My head is spinning.
What a racist battle axe Miss Martinez is. And remember, she works for the city of Phoenix and is an aide to one Melissa Boyle, who seems to be in charge of this "outreach" according to the NPR article.
Now to be fair, it appears that there is some effort to identify and find minorities that have the potential and bring them to basic standards to potentially become a lifeguard.
That would be the obvious suggestion. Not for the reasons that Miss Martinez spouts off. Because as the article points out many of the Whites that do become lifeguards are not part of the neighborhood. Yes they come from the affluent parts of town. And what seems to be missing is the fact that these White kids are going into neighborhoods certainly not exactly receptive to them on the surface. What is missing is what the White kids are learning going out of their comfort zone and being of service in parts of town that need their kind of service.
Now the article does not mention it but is their anything that the lifeguards can do to help more of these kids gain swimming skills? Not to take their jobs but to be able to attain an important life skill? I know that there is the $15,000 grant, but what more can be done?
There is no doubt that swimming, rightly or wrongly, in many parts of the United States is still seen as something, well something White. Or to put it this way. If a minority person mocks a White swimmer with something life surfer boy, as I said, it is not a compliment.
But living here in So Cal, that barrier is in most places non-existent. When my stepson was in high school, he was the blond, surfer-looking kid on the swim team. However, there were Asians and Hispanics and a good representation without going out of the way of the school itself.
The reality of being a lifeguard is that he or she must be a great swimmer. And one that is very strong. Strong enough to be able to bring a drowning person from underwater. One that would be able to perform basic CPR on a potential drowning victim. I don't think for a moment that there is a race component to it. But access for minorities may be different in other parts of the United States. Lowering the basics could, no will, prove very costly in the long run if a person drowns because a less qualified lifeguard was trying to save that person.
That is what this is about.
Again, if you read what Miss Martinez says, she is not really concerned about the pool patron safety. She is worried about how a young Hispanic student who does not speak English feels about having a White lifeguard. But assumption, one that does not speak Spanish. Of course I am kind of sort of thinking, hey, why does this student not speak, wait for it. . .ENGLISH!
Now that this has come to light, the program needs to be really thought out how to gain qualified potential non-White lifeguard candidates without lowering standards.
Is it too much to ask the brain trust of Phoenix to figure out how to have more minority lifeguards without lowering the bar? Is this what we have come to in the United States that we have to risk safety to feel good?