Moving today’s racial discourse from rhetoric to results

The Civil Rights Movement could not have enjoyed a more eloquent spokesperson than the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. His “I Have a Dream” speech remains as relevant, and referenced, today as it was when he made it more than 50 years ago. The challenge when discussing race relations in today’s society, is to elevate that conversation, to move from rhetoric to results. The former inflames, the latter advances. It’s all in the narrative, according to Packer Hall of Famer and current Northeast Wisconsin resident Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila. “I have black kids. An ex-teammate once asked me, ‘Have you ever thought twice about raising your kids in this environment where they’re the minority?’ I have a hard time relating to that discussion,” he said. “I’m getting to the point where when I fill out a form that asks for race I’m going to write, ‘human.’” It wasn’t always that way. Born and raised in South Central LA, Gbaja-Biamila initially learned to mistrust white people. “They made you very aware of how we as a people were mistreated,” he said. “I grew up thinking all white people were bad.” A junior high math teacher changed his perception and played a key role in altering the whole trajectory of Kabeer’s life. Mr. Guy Reed not only taught, he also trusted his young student, and the experience had a profound and lasting effect. “For a white guy to give me the keys to the whole school, it really inspired me,” he said. “Mr. Reed was a kind man. He taught me something and I still visit him today.” The steady chipping away of mutual racial biases continued as Kabeer made his way through college and the professional football ranks. One year, Kabeer accepted an internship to help coach track at Pulaski High School. He sensed the coach didn’t trust him, so he made sure to prove him wrong. “I had a feeling that this… | Read More »