Announcement: Black Girls Swim: Histories of Race, Gender, and Athletic Girlhoods


The level playing field of sports is often a mirage. The sporting landscape shifts and moves, revealing its instability and illuminating the challenges and inequalities embedded within its fields, courts, and pools. For Black swimmers, the pool has been and continues to be a profoundly unequal athletic space. What are the roots of this inequality? And how have Black girls-and their bodies-faced surveillance and scrutiny in aquatic spaces? This talk reveals the challenges faced by African-American young female swimmers in the early twentieth century and how they navigated segregated swimming spaces. I also identify the strategies that Black girls deployed as they developed their own racialized and gendered identities in the pool, identities that reflected an investment in health, femininity, respectability and athleticism. Using archival data, this talk traces practices and representations of Black girls in the pool and challenges their invisibility in historical swimming narratives.

This livestream will take place on Tuesday, April 27 at 4 p.m.