History and Power: On Pride

  • Jared SextonEmail author


This chapter takes up Sunu Gonera’s Pride (2007), a biopic about the life of Jim Ellis, a competitive swim coach who eventually produced the first black swimmers for the US Olympic Team. It discusses the film’s favorable portrayal of Ellis within the history of racially segregated swimming, and the exploitation of African swimming skills under slavery, in order to comprehend the construction of the stereotype that “blacks can’t swim.” Although Ellis challenges government bureaucracy for the opportunity to help his team, his bid for patriarchal protection requires him to call directly upon the state’s police powers. Ellis, not unlike his own white male coach before him, counsels young black men to stand up to racist assault by refusing to fight back in their own defense.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of African American StudiesUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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