Some people have a hard time understanding why I had so many black role models, like Mohammed Ali. It’s actually quite simple really; I was always an outsider. I was the ‘other kid’, the white kid that didn’t have the same interests, or religion, or interest in sports. My family never really had the money or the interest in keeping up with our neighbors and I always felt like people didn’t like me around them or their children. That feeling of alienation was something that black people lived with every day of their lives and their struggle to be accepted for who they were was something I could identify with a lot more than I did white culture in the 80’s. Everything I liked as a kid, stuff that people take for granted today, was considered ‘fringe’ and ‘weird’.
Mohammed Ali, Bruce Lee, Malcolm X, these were people I looked up to because they were NOT afraid of white people. Through their eyes, I could see the flaws in my own culture and was able to avoid feeling the way society wanted me to feel for not fitting in. I knew, because of men like them, that I was not the one with the problem, that I was not a kid that needed to be fixed, it was the system that needed to be fixed. Thanks to them, I am a wolf, not a sheep, and there is NO way you can ever say thank you for something like that. That is why I support black culture and why black lives matter to me; because their heroes were my heroes too.