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Black folks and water don’t mix right? Well one government safety group says it’s time to get to mixing because that’s the only way to reduce the disproportionate rates of black and Latino kids drowning in pools.

In it’s new campaign, called “Pool Safely,” the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission points out that black children between the ages of 5 and 14 are three times more likely to drown than white children in the same age group. They also show data from the USA Swimming Foundation which indicates that up to 70 percent of black and 62 percent of Hispanic children cannot swim.

“We are focusing on minority children because the data show they are most at risk for drowning,” safety commission chairman Inez Tenenbaum told CBS news. “It’s a cultural issue, because many of the African-American and Hispanic children have parents and grandparents who never learned to swim.”

The safety commission is working with the Y, the American Red Cross, public schools, and other community organizations to boost access to free swimming lessons, which is really the only choice the group has. If parents are willing to let their kids go in the water unsupervised when they don’t know how to swim they’ll just have to try to convince children otherwise. That really isn’t their job but it appears someone has to do it.

What do you think about this initiative? Do you know how to swim?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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