Why I wrote a young adult version of Things That Make White People Uncomfortable
I thought it was important to do a young adult version of the book because at some point in time, we have to be honest with young people about what’s happening. We build these sometimes we’re not real with our kids about the world they live in. This book is an opportunity to share some truly valuable reflections from the sports figures they look up to. I always say that as an athlete you constantly get told to sell stuff to kids, but you never really just tell them the truth. We never give them a true, honest reflection of the world and the fact that, together, we can change it: the impact we can have, individually, and as a community, when we collaborate.
It’s important to help young kids see athletes beyond the things that they do, to see them for who they are as people. When you ask someone about athletes, the first thing they do is talk about stats—they never talk about them as people or the things they do for the community. This book is an opportunity to see a football player as something other than just an athlete: to see him as a human. It’s an opportunity for young people to see it’s okay to be vulnerable, to think about how to treat each other. It also shows the strength of what we can do as a whole, as a group, when we put our minds together.
Maybe the title will put people off, but at the end of the day, it’s really about what’s inside. This book is the true definition of “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It’s about showing that being an athlete is just one side of a person, and that we all have to pay close attention to who we are, and act accordingly, because history repeats the same discrimination and the same violence and will continue on in this vicious cycle unless we reach and teach young people. I want to help kids to have a voice and to find a way to speak their truth.