Swimming While White

The pool area was dark, and almost deserted. There were four men around a table off to the right.

It was past nine. I'm new at this apartment complex, staying with a friend. I look at the rules: no swimming alone, pool area closes at 9:00pm. I just want to do a few laps. It'll probably be OK.

I've never seen the four guys before. They are as melanin endowed as I am challenged. You know: they're Black and I'm White. And new, and alone. This is Atlanta, the 'city to busy to hate', this is an upscale apartment complex near Northlake Mal, but still.

I feel I ought to say something to them, a greeting of some kind. "You gonna be here much longer?", I say.

The guy opposite me in the group responds: "We'll be chillin' a while." He seems to bristle a little, as if my purpose is to enforce the nine o'clock closing.

"Good, " I say, "can you cover for me? 'Cause the rule is no swimming alone."

"Aw, don't mind that," my guy says, "nobody cares about the rules."

The other three guys have watched this with no interest I can see.

"Thanks." I say. I leave my towel on the grill by their table and swim my laps.

I come out, and approach the recliner by my guy's chair. "Mind if I sit here?"

"Sure", he says, with polite apathy.

"About the no swimming alone rule," I say, "it's easy for you to dis it, you've never been busted for 'swimming while white'."

He doesn't laugh, but immediately gets the reference to 'Driving While Black'. He launches into some stories of his DWB's.

He's engaged now and wants to get his buddies involved. He has some success, but they're a little too mellow: they've all been winding down from a long work day with some beers and joints. But the wall is down, and we go on talking until almost ten, and exchange business cards.

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