Under(water) Brother

Cullen Jones

Congrats to Cullen Jones (above, second from left) and his U.S. teammates who captured the men’s 4x100m Freestyle relay at the World Swimming Championships in Melbourne, Australia last weekend. (Yeah, I missed it, too.) Cullen, from New Brusnwick, NJ. teamed with (l-r) Neil Walker, Olympian Michael Phelps and Jason Lezak to just miss setting another world record in the event.

Cullen, 23, is African American, and while he isn’t the first black swimmer to win a world championship he may be the first to embrace his blackness. At the 2000 summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, Anthony Ervin, who’s a mixture of African- and Native-American and Jewish heritages, tied for the gold medal in the Men’s 50m Freestyle at the 2000 Summer Olympics. He also won a silver medal on the Men’s 4×100 m freestyle relay team. But Ervin, who is light-skinned was a reluctant pioneer and was famously quoted as saying, “I don’t look black.” (On the positive side, Ervin reportedly sold his gold medal on EBay for $17,700 and donated the funds to tsunami relief.)

Not such hiding for Cullen, whose pioneering role is being supported by his teammates. “Obviously, he’s a role model to a lot of athletes,” said Lezak, who is also a mentor to Jones. “It’s a tough job. He’s got a whole community on his shoulders. I’m sure it’s got to be a little stressful for him. I hope he realizes that he can’t change the world, but he can make it better.”
Anthony (I-don’t-look-black) Ervin


7 thoughts on “Under(water) Brother

  1. Amanda says:

    No doubt about it, I didn’t know about Cullen Jones before the World Swimming Championships 2007. Looking at it he is a really talented swimmer. Keep up the good work. I am happy to see an outstanding African American swimmer.

  2. This is great. I wonder if he’s named after Countee Cullen? Yeah, the “menonegro” Ervin ticked me off with that comment. Long live Cullen!

  3. SJH says:

    No doubt about it, I ain’t no there were any brothers who could swim before this. I damn sure can’t.

  4. Juan says:


    Cmon man, you just don’t like Ervin (no context to the quote) because he’s a Cal guy.

    Had the CablenAsian/ Corporation said something similar, you’d be going to bat for that two year Stanford-educated, bad tipping, golf dynamo.

  5. Vince Mancibno says:

    How do black writers get away with saying the things you do? I f a European American writer talked about the lack of whites in basketball, or football or even track and field he/she would have to ware the racists tag. or the questions about what was in his/her heart. It seems to be a double standard in America when it comes to talking about race. You say anything that brings your people up, but we can’t taought our race without being accussed of some other motive.
    I wish, someday, five new white players come to the NBA and become the stars of the league. I want to here the reaction of all the black sports writers that have a problem with it.

  6. Rho says:

    Umm…..Cullen from the Bronx

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