Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are our own fears.
Kipling's words resonated so deeply within me, that I decided to create this blog. Today, I am taking a bold leap away from my comfort into the “blogsphere” where my thoughts and words may be critiqued heavily. What am I afraid of? Why would I care about what anyone thinks? I have learned to internalize oppression so well that I spend time talking myself out of expressing thoughts that may bless someone else. Why? The answer is in the quote above; I believed the lies my fears told me. I've spent so much of my life making others feel comfortable around me that I've nearly forgotten to embrace and embellish the awesomeness that I possess.
Recently, I created a video for the Positive Coaching Alliance as a representative of the Black voices within its organizational community. Naturally, I experienced significant trepidation prior to agreeing to participate in the effort because of potential backlash from current and future employers. My trepidation is also rooted in an internalized cynicism that suggests nothing positive will come from the effort because of the dismissive nature of a divided society. Thankfully, a stronger optimistic voice prevailed in the war within to create a video that by many accounts served as an inspiration to several people.
I began my lifelong relationship with sport at the age of 5 when I started playing baseball. I began a nearly four-decade long relationship with racism less than one year later as a first-grade student at a predominantly white elementary school with most of the same teammates and opponents from baseball serving as classmates and schoolmates. Several of my schoolmates would frequently change my name from the one I shared with my father and grandfather before me to the one given to many before and after me who share various shades of magnificently melanin-enriched skin, nigger. My blood would boil with every syllable of hate spewed in my direction. Unable to express my rage, I would respond with flying fists like I was fighting for my ancestor’s freedom. It was on the playground where I would channel my inner Ali and float like a butterfly and sting like a bee against anyone who called me out of my name.
My sports and education experiences from those moments forward shaped many of my perspectives on life and athletics as a Black male in predominantly white spaces. Not only was I often the only one in the space, I was almost always the tallest, a gift also shared with my grandfather and father before me. I thought my fists could save me from ridicule and my athletic prowess would buy me enough clout to prevent the multitude of foolish fastballs hurled in my direction. In nearly two years of athletics and racism, I learned invaluable lessons that have carried me throughout life. No matter how many fastballs I plant over the outfield fence, penalty kicks buried in the corner of the net, points scored in the paint, or tackles made on the field, nothing would save me from the stinging echoes of hate shouted at my soul.
Today, we are faced with an opportunity to take a giant leap away from the lies of racism responsible for the oft-disheartened, yet never defeated souls of Black people across the United States. We are faced with the task of embodying the professed unity of sports that appear to be disconnected from the realities of life in our country. As Black athletes and coaches return to center stage and risks their lives in pursuit of education and opportunities which may or may not prevent their lives from being taken senselessly or souls bruised infinitely by the lies of racism, let us act by standing courageously as teammates in the spirit of Ubuntu, where we become who we are as individuals because of who we are collectively. On teams across the country, Forget About Me I Love You (FAMILY) serves as the bloodline and frequent motivator for effort and conduct in and out of competition. Athletes and coaches it is time to dig deep into the fiber of who we say we are and lead through action and not carefully crafted statements. Be who we say we are! FAMILY on me, FAMILY on three, one, two, three...
Our blog features thoughts of people from diverse ideologies, professions, and communities.