News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by

Racial tension bobs at the surface of public pools




A boy jumps as people bathe on opening day of the newly renovated McCarren Park Pool on June 28, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
A boy jumps as people bathe on opening day of the newly renovated McCarren Park Pool on June 28, 2012 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Listen to story

06:59
Download this story 3MB

A pool party in McKinney, Texas might be the next incident in a series of racial conflicts between police departments and African-Americans.

That altercation could have happened at a house party or a school dance or a mall. 

But it didn't.

It happened at a swimming pool, and that may not be a coincidence. 

Throughout history, public and communal pools have not only been the sites for relaxation and recreation, they've also been spots rife with racial tension.

Jeff Wiltse, author of , "Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America," tells Take Two that pools allowed more people to bare their skin in close quarters, leading to racism and bigotry in the waters.