The summer season has finally arrived. The kids are out of school. Pools and beaches are opening. The weather is getting warmer. And the city has an energy to it that you can feel. As Stevie Wonder said, “Hotter than July”!
It also seems like the world is going utterly mad all around us. The Supreme Court has decided to take away civil rights and civil liberties for women. They’ve decided to make it easier for New Yorkers to carry guns mere weeks after the Buffalo massacre and Uvalde, Texas school mass shooting. It seems like everyone I talk to is worried about inflation or the price of groceries or their wages. And as the days get hotter, we must wonder and worry about what we’ve done to our environment and if we will be able to sustain this heat in years to come since our polar ice caps are melting by the minute.
There’s a lot to be worried about, but as always, there is a lot to celebrate and give thanks for. Hopefully those who could, voted last week to help secure and strengthen our democracy. Hopefully those of you who can get out of the city for a short spell are planning a brief respite somewhere. And for those of you who cannot, it is my sincere hope that you will be able to take advantage of the many beaches around Queens and Brooklyn.
Until recently, I did not take advantage of all of New York City’s beautiful beaches. Many are expansive with soft sand and/or lots of beautiful seashells, staffed with clean bathrooms, and most have active lifeguards on duty during dedicated hours. There is definitely a lifeguard shortage thus far this season, so if you are not a strong swimmer or fully comfortable in the ocean, only swim when a lifeguard is present and respect the ocean. That is, only go in knee or waist deep. The rip tides and undercurrents this season have been particularly tricky and sadly there have already been more than a handful of drownings. It is possible to enjoy the sun and sand without risking your life. I for one only enjoy going into the water during the daylight hours when a lifeguard is present somewhere on the beach.
The fantastic website www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/beaches has a wealth of information about beaches (and pools) and even a quiz to find out the best beach for you. There are even resources for swim lessons and programs for every age group.
It is my sincere wish that we all have a safe and rest filled summer. Some of us are still working and may not have the mental and physical luxury to take off like school kids, but during this season hopefully we can find a way to slow down just a bit.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.