Thanks to P&G for sharing from “The Talk” to “The Look” video. This video resonated with me in so many ways as a black male. It makes me recall a time in high school when students from a school on the west side of town tied a noose around a Jaguar (our school mascot) and threw pennies at the players screaming racial slurs and profanity. It also makes me remember a collegiate road trip when we stopped for food. As fate would have it, the black players sat at the back of the bus and the white players sat towards the front. As we began to exit the bus, the black players noticed the signage on a restaurant across the street, each of the three words began with the letter K. It amazed us as black student athletes that our white coaches and teammates didn’t notice it. Some people may call this treatment unconscious bias and others may say it is deliberate and intentional.
Whatever IT is IT caused me to use basketball as my vehicle to escape the poverty-stricken environment I saw as a child. Basketball didn’t eliminate this treatment but it helped me change and control the narrative. Basketball taught me the importance of staying in my lane and working extremely hard to separate myself from other players. It allowed to me to complete higher education, travel the US and compete at a higher level. More importantly, I learned how to work and compete with people from all over the world. As a collegiate point guard, I knew the importance of leading, winning and continuing to dispel the racial myths of black males.
My success on the basketball court helped change “The Talk” and “The Look” I received on and around the basketball court. My Dad always told me as a child that there is no substitute for hard work. He also told me that no one can take your education away from you. I trusted and believed him and still use these words as motivation today. Through my life experiences I recognize that “hard work” for a black man always faces obstacles like “The Look” and the margin for error is disproportionate (shorter and it’s magnified) for me and my black male peers. As a supply chain professional, I use the same strategies I learned as a basketball player to be successful in today’s global workforce.
I share these life lessons with my children and a group of young men that I coach and mentor. I constantly express the same things my parents instilled in me as a child. We’re always going to get “The Look” and have the “The Talk”. Life is a journey and it is so much #BiggerThanBasketball. However, basketball can be that same vehicle to change their lives in a significant way. They have access to resources that were not readily available to us and an opportunity to make a global impact.
This video shows the importance of staying in your lane, no response is a response. Nonverbal communication can have a more significant impact than addressing every instance of “The Look” I receive daily as an “educated” black man. I work hard to accomplish my goals and create an environment where others have to “Talk” and “Look” at me differently. I’m creating an environment through my work with young males, where stereotypes are challenged and inspiration is provided to the next generation.