Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The year 2020 - 20 questions that I have for 20 people

20/20 vision is said to be normal vision. At age 43, I find myself squinting a lot more these days. It’s been a while since I’ve had a sight test but I bet I’m moving towards needing glasses to see.

With regards to discerning my future for the year 2020, there are 20 people that I would like to meet. Upon meeting them, I already have the question prepared that I want to ask them.

1. Gucci Mane - What's your response to "successful" adults that tell youth that want to become a rapper that they should strive to do something else?

2. Big Meech - What's the best advice that you received from someone when you were a child that had you listened, would have prevented you from starting the Black Mafia Family?

3. T.I. - What are the principles of “street life” that are transferrable for launching a new business?

4. Barack Obama - Using 30 words or less, why can't we close the racial wealth gap in America?

5. Donald Trump - What was your initial reaction to the "Make America Great" mantra when it was shared with you to be used for your Presidential Campaign?

6. Tyler Perry - How do you define grit?

7. Brené Brown - If courage were an animal, what would it be?

8. Condolezza Rice - Using 30 words or less in a sentience, what’s the difference between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party?

9. Serena Williams - As a child, what were you considering as a backup plan if you didn’t become a professional tennis player?

10. Ayanna Pressley - You are quoted as saying, “Those closest to the pain should be closest to the power.” What inspired you to make this profound statement?

11. Nick Saban - If you were offered and accepted the head coaching position for the Atlanta Falcons, what would be the first thing that you would do to help us win a Super Bowl?

12. Tom Brady - In Super Bowl 2017, y’all were down 28-3 at halftime. What were you saying to yourself in the locker room during that time?

13. Ed Bastain
Atlanta being regarded as "The City Too Busy to Hate" helped us prove to be "more progressive" than other southern cities during the 1960's. The slogan was great for business. How do you feel about Atlanta having the greatest income disparity in America?

14. Rosalind Brewer - What’s step #1 to making a company culture racially inclusive?

15. Tucker Carlson - What’s the fundamental difference between Fox News and CNN? How are they both the same?

16. Ibram X. Kendi - “How to Be an Antiracist” is a powerful book that you wrote. What’s the most disappointing feedback that you’ve received from an African-American reader about the book?

17. Simon Sinek - What’s the craziest title for one of your books that you’ve considered but didn’t pull the trigger on?

18. Ta-Nehisi Coats - What are the top three things that a U.S. President must do to prove that he/she believes that Black Lives Matter?

19. Rob Manfred - What is the major consequence of having such a low number of African-Americans that are competing in baseball at the Major League level?

20. Michael Eric Dyson - What book are you reading right now?


Friday, December 6, 2019

What I want — How 2020 will continue to define who I am

I am imperfect. We all are. I am a product of my past. But my future is hopeful. As I look at my life up until this point, I see that conviction has connected me to a life of purpose. You can see me, but you cannot see my soul. I’m living on purpose and I know where I want to go.

I believe it is important for each of us to write down the things we want to accomplish, the people we want to meet, the changes we want to make for ourselves and the world around us. Here’s a look at what I hope to accomplish in 2020:

1. I want to draw closer to God, trust myself and live a life that honors my wife and daughters.

2. I want the new Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent to respect the culture of sports as co-curricular rather than extra-curricular.

3. I want the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education to propose mandatory African American history classes within all middle and high schools in all Atlanta public schools.

4. I want Atlanta citizens by the hundreds of thousands to be aware that we are not yet a “City too Busy to Hate.”

5. I want Atlanta citizens by the hundreds of thousands to be aware that our state has a problem being in the top third of non-profits in the US, yet for the second year in a row, “Atlanta is the capital of U.S. inequality,” according to a Bloomberg analysis of large American cities with a population of at least a quarter-million.

6. I want to vet 20 volunteers for L.E.A.D. who can serve our Ambassadors by being a present, being present and being a partner.

7. I want the Braves to win the World Series and the Falcons to win the Super Bowl.

8. I want to read at least 20 books.

9. I want to start writing my second book.

10. I want the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors book, “Voices of the Counted Out” to sale more than 50,000 copies.

11. I want at least 100 fans at each of our spring L.E.A.D. Middle School Character Development League games. The MSCDL schedule will be posted by Feb. 1, 2020.

L.E.A.D. Ambassadors along with Chief Patrick Labat
12. I want 200 people to march with us for our Spring L.E.A.D. Inner City Youth Baseball March. The MSCDL schedule will be posted by Feb. 1, 2020.

13. I want to do another Spartan Race with the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors.

14. I want to run in the Peachtree Road Race with the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors.

15. I want to launch a capital campaign to raise funds for the L.E.A.D. Center For Youth.

16. I want Chief Patrick Labat to be the next Fulton County Sheriff.

17. I want to be wise and courageous while inspiring others to do the same.

18. I want to remain healthy spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially and relationally.

19. I want to remain unwaveringly committed to using my wealth of social capital to help tens of thousands of marginalized families in Atlanta.

20. I want to remain unwaveringly committed to being regarded as man of God who is aspirational rather than using bravado to become successful at the expense of others.


Monday, November 4, 2019

If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It, but What’s Taking You So Long to Fix It if You Know It's Broke?

If a system works and is affective then great! If a system is not producing the intended results and you know it, then what are you waiting for to change it to one that will result in what you need; especially when its ineffectiveness has a long term negative impact on the lives of young people.

My wife, Kelli, and I founded an Atlanta based non-profit organization L.E.A.D., Inc. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) 12 years ago. L.E.A.D. is a sport for social good organization that uses baseball to help at-risk, Black males in Atlanta Public Schools (APS) overcome three curveballs that threaten their success: crime, poverty and racism. Through our methodology, our young men become empowered to find success by embracing their education.

To date, L.E.A.D. has served over 3500 youth in APS grades 6 - 12. Through our partnership with APS, we proudly report the following stats for youth who complete our program: 100% high school graduation rate, 93% college enrollment rate, 90% scholarship rate, 19% college graduation rate and about 14% enter the military or workforce.

The systems we set up at L.E.A.D. to implement our programming need to work so that our young men can achieve the education success they must have to compete in life. We continually assess our programs and the systems we use. When we don’t get the results we need, we find a different way.

Despite our success, why does it feel that we are rolling a ball up hill when it comes to Atlanta’s graduation rate among Black males? Following are a few staggering statistics that I’d like you to share with you:

Based on a 2012 Schott Foundation report - Graduation rates for Black males in Atlanta 2009-10 42% and in Georgia it was 49%.

Based on a 2015 Schott Foundation report - Graduation rates for Black males in Atlanta 2011-12 was 38% and in Georgia it was 55%.

How is this possible? We know it isn’t a lack of resources and it isn’t lack of goodwill. Georgia has one non-profit charitable organization for every 361 people. It is ranked in the top 1/3 of most charitable states overall. Georgia’s charitable organizations are generous with both their money and volunteers. Could it be that those being served by the non-profit sector would benefit if there were an annual scorecard holding non-profits accountable for who and how they serve? Maybe, but that’s a discussion for another time.

We also know that the State of Georgia has a strategy for serving the educational needs of at-risk youth and systems in place to achieve their goals. So, why does Atlanta have so many problems with poverty and failed educational outcomes for young Black males? I think it’s because some of their systems are ineffective and it’s time to weed them out and replace them with what works.

According to a report issued by the Education Law Center one answer may lie in Georgia’s school funding formula: “Georgia is one of only eight states that provides no additional funding to students in poverty through the state’s school funding formula. Extra funding is, however, made available to districts if students test below grade level on Georgia’s English Language Arts or mathematics tests.”

In an AJC blog post dated August 21, 2019 by Maureen Downey entitled “Researchers say funding is not well targeted to districts with the greatest need” Ms. Downey refers to an Education Law Center report and introduces two researchers from the center, Mary McKillip and Danielle Farrie, to further explain in a guest blog, and advocate on behalf of Georgia’s at-risk student population. Following are outtakes from the blog post, more particularly the Education Law Center Funding Opportunity Fact Sheet that makes the case and provides for a system or funding formula.

According to the ELC Funding Opportunity Fact Sheet:

1. During 2017-18 - 52% of Atlanta Public Schools students live in poverty and 74% of APS students are Black. Based on this and the statistics listed above, one could assume the at-risk population in Atlanta Public Schools includes a high percentage of Black males.

2. Data to show why the current funding formula doesn’t work

3. How would Atlanta Public Schools benefit if the Quality Basic Education Formula Changed to a an ELC proposed Formula 

McKillip and Farrie give credit to Georgia legislature for taking “several positive steps to address over a decade of austerity cuts to K-12 education funding.” But are emphatic that “more can – and must – be done as Georgia ranks in the bottom quartile of states on public school funding. And there is an urgent need to drive more funds to address the impact of student poverty, especially in those districts serving high concentrations of students in need.”

“It’s time for lawmakers to tackle the challenge of providing additional funding to deliver essential resources to Georgia’s most at-risk students. These students deserve no less. “ Indeed.


Friday, October 25, 2019

Can sports help Black youth the way that it can White youth?

For all intents and purposes, I’m a Grady Baby. I was born in poverty in the inner-city of Atlanta. My mother, Gail, was 16 when she gave birth to me. She is the epitome of resilience and focus. My father, Willie, has always been in my life, and still models the qualities of commitment and discipline for me.

When I was a kid, young African Americans like me grew up hearing rhetoric like, “You could never be an athlete and intelligent at the same time.” Looking back, they were dumb jokes. What was real was the notion that while education could never be taken away from us, sports could.

As I grew older, I saw the pipeline of employment riding through the white community—one that helped young people prepare for the future. It was different for me. I was blessed to be on the right team, at the right time. I was coached by Emmett Johnson, Sr., who at the time was chairman of the Atlanta Public Schools’ Board of Education. I was also coached by Joshua Butler, a respected art teacher at Benjamin Mays High School. My family was not among the middle class, but my coaches were.

Playing baseball helped me build good habits, confidence and discipline. It shaped me into a community leader, teaching me how to strive for a goal, handle mistakes and cherish growth opportunities. Playing for Coach Johnson and Coach Butler gave me access. Through that access, I felt a sense of belonging to my birth city, Atlanta. I felt a sense of investment.

I dreamed of escaping poverty by entering the middle class.

My late mentor, Charles Easley, told me that ‘back in the day’, you did not become a man until you were allowed to play baseball. It was the principle he grew up under. Families would leave church and immediately head to the park to watch men play baseball. Sports like football and basketball were not even options. The University of Georgia recently uncovered the oldest known film footage of African-American baseball players. The footage is mesmerizing.

“I felt unhappy and trapped. If I left baseball, where could I go, what could I do to earn enough money to help my mother and to marry Rachel? The solution to my problem was only days away in the hands of a tough, shrewd, courageous man called Branch Rickey, the president of the Brooklyn Dodgers.” — Jackie Robinson

Atlanta is recognized as a world-class city. That would have never happened if it did not prove that it was a “city too busy to hate.” The transformation was set into motion when the Braves relocated here from Milwaukee. In fact, because of Jim Crow segregation laws, the Atlanta Braves were the first Major League team in the south.

Today, when I look out across our city, I see progress. Some of the progress can be traced back to sports. As the co-founder of L.E.A.D., I am able to use sports as a vehicle to help Black males in Atlanta’s inner city overcome crime, poverty and racism.

Photo of C.J. Stewart by Steve West
As a child, I experienced L.E.A.D. through the collaboration of my church, neighborhood public schools and local parks and recreation programming. We did not need non-profit organizations. Along with the guiding support of my family, I was able to get drafted twice by the Chicago Cubs. Without a college degree today, I am a husband, father, Deacon, author, business owner, and social activist who aims to attack policy that hurt the well-being of African Americans using sports as the vehicle.
L.E.A.D. is an amazing organization that offers amazing programs to young kids who otherwise might be counted out in Atlanta’s growing fortunes. Our organization would cease to exist if stringent policy ceased to exist.

As I continue to help build the minds and stature for some of Atlanta’s inner city Black youth, I cannot help sit back and reflect on how the road has led me to this place, at this time. As a husband and father, I am blessed to have had a hand in raising our children to always reach for the highest star.

My oldest daughter, Mackenzi, graduated from The Westminster School in 2019 with honors, while being a three-time state champion in tennis. Mackenna, my youngest daughter, is a 7th grader at The Lovett School. She is working to become a professional tennis player by age 15.

Both The Westminster School and The Lovett School are nationally respected institutions for sports and academics. Those are two of the reasons my daughters are a part of these K-12 institutions. The networking opportunities is the other. Mackenzi is a freshman student-athlete (tennis) at Howard University who is majoring in Afro-American History. She wants to be an education reformist who can educate and inform the masses about key concepts, events, people, etc., that were conveniently and intentionally left out of our history books. Mackenna wants to be a social activist.

At these schools, participating in sports and/or the arts is expected of everyone, regardless of their skill level. Being just a student today just is not going to happen.

The common thread of opportunity, as you can see, is that sports gives everyone a path toward intellectual, social and emotional growth. These are the very principles our L.E.A.D. Ambassadors embrace. The opportunity to step on to a playing field can be transformational. In sports, we find the balance between mind, body and spirit. It is just that this transformational experience must be something everyone—in all walks of life— should have the chance to develop.
The more level the field, the greater we can soar.


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Why we are winning?

It all started in fall 2008, the time for my family and me to choose a new baseball organization. Now a sophomore at Benjamin Elijah Mays High School, I was looking for a program that could help me gain exposure to play baseball on the next level. My high school counselor, Andrew Ragland, saw my potential on the baseball field and gave me a flyer for tryouts for an organization called L.E.A.D.

At first thought, I told my mom they play at Perkerson Park—they can’t be any good. Having interest in organizations around Atlanta such as the Georgia Royals, MGBA (Marquis Grissom Baseball Association) and the Atlanta Blue Jays, I didn’t think L.E.A.D. would have much to offer. My focus was to find the best team, with the best players, and most popular brand. This way, I’d be able to travel, win games and be seen all over the country.

Upon arriving at Perkerson Park I was surprised to see so many people come out for tryouts. There was even lots of baseball gear and equipment available to the program that I could see with reps from Mizuno on site at the tryouts. My opinions had changed and interest had grew at first sight.

After completing the tryout process, my mom and I had a conversation with C.J. Stewart, the co-founder and CEO of L.E.A.D., Inc. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct). The first question he asked me was, “How are your grades?” My mom was sold. No other coach or organization was concerned with what I did off the field, but his first concern showed he cared and would not only help me on the field, but off the field, in the game of life, too. Our relationship took off from there, as I chose to join L.E.A.D., an unpopular choice at the time being the only Mays Raider to join the program. I found this experience more valuable in all of the losses that we took, not because we weren’t good players, but Coach C.J. and L.E.A.D. taught us how to see through the scoreboard and understand the real importance of travel ball.

The summer of 2011 had come around and it was time to make a decision on college. Still in the Ambassador program, I had become a Division I baseball prospect, being placed in front of colleges as well as professional scouts at every game and showcase. It was one day in particular I’ll never forget. It happened to be at Perkerson Park. The place I had doubts about when I first joinedg was now giving me the stage to perform on.

Before taking the field for the game that day, Coach C.J. pulled me to the side and basically challenged me to secure this Division I baseball scholarship to Grambling State University. The decision to stay and trust the process with L.E.A.D. had ultimately paid off. I can remember only winning about three to four games, but that was minor in comparison to winning the ultimate prize. I stayed with L.E.A.D. for the culture set in place—one that saw the big picture and was bigger than any game we could win.

Upon graduating from Grambling State University in 2017, I returned to Atlanta with my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, along with five great years on the baseball field. I began working with L.E.A.D. as the programs manager and Ambassadors head coach shortly after. Now approaching two years in this position, I have gained the experience and built a resume I need for the professional world. I have also embraced my passions for giving back to the community, leading and teaching, all while staying close to the game with coaching. These passions, in fact, are ones I’ll be looking to expand upon in my next job after moving on from L.E.A.D.

Head coach of the Ambassadors puts me in charge of three teams. We place Ambassadors on either the practice, play or performance team. The practice team does not play in any games. Once an Ambassador can show he knows how to practice, we will promote him to the “play” team. The process is similar to the minor league to major league progressions. Once an Ambassador is on the “play” team, his focus is to become consistent enough for a promotion to the performance team. The performance team is where you actually get to play for me, where my focus is winning games and scholarships.

I’m often asked after games—“Where are you guys from?”—due to the fact they are surprised that we compete or either won the game. The more surprising comments when I let people know all of my guys are from the Atlanta Public Schools system. I am not supposed to compete, let alone win games with this group. Each game I focus on pitchers throwing strikes, being solid on defense having timely hitting. If we do those three things well, we can compete with anyone.

Leading the Ambassadors did not start once I took this position. The journey started years ago watching and learning how to lead. When I matriculated through the program, there was no Desmond Stegall, C.J. and Kelli Stewart to lead us by themselves. Coach Kelli has taught me the importance of communication, holding people accountable and to sticking to my core values and beliefs.

Desmond Stegall leading the Ambassadors during the 2019 Safe at Home Game. Photo by iSmooth.

I also wondered for years how Coach C.J. managed to do all the things he had going on with excellence. He has taught me how to multi-task, how to prepare and how to delegate, because most things in fact cannot be done alone. I learn from them both each and every day. I use those skills and lessons as best I can when pouring into all the young men L.E.A.D. serves. Our mission is to empower an at risk generation to lead and transform their city. Coach C.J. and Coach Kelli provide Ambassadors this opportunity to do so. You are guaranteed professional coaching, lifelong connections and a network beneficial to your professional desires.

Preparation for the Ambassador program starts in our Middle School Character Development League. These participants are our Junior Ambassadors, who go through a 10-week process, where I am using a leadership method called “Habitudes,” founded by Dr. Tim Elmore. This core value training focuses on teaching Junior Ambassadors everything they need before they learn how to practice, play and perform.

As I close, I want to lend some words of advice to my successor on how to keep winning. You must understand that you are not only leading the Ambassadors, but serving them as well. Be knowledgeable of what each Ambassador can and cannot do. On the field, value each opportunity to get better as a team. Communication can go a long way in your coaching and the Ambassadors performance. You cannot stress it enough in every aspect of the game.

LEAD and they will follow.

Desmond Stegall is the L.E.A.D. Ambassadors Head Coach.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Running. Reaping. Reciprocation.

On April 28, 2019, Pastor Charles Jenkins preached a sermon at my home church, Elizabeth Baptist Church, about three seasons of life—running, reaping and reciprocation.
  • Running Season — Faint not and let us not be weary in well doing
  • Reaping Season — Heavenly blessings come through human hands
  • Reciprocating Season — Blessed to be a blessing
Our oldest daughter, Mackenzi, is now a freshman at Howard University. She will graduate with a degree in Afro-American Studies 2023. Ultimately, she wants to help reform the K-12 education system in the United States. She will be a member of the tennis team, so be sure to follow her career here.

I remember when Mackenzi was born. I can still feel the excitement of being a first-time father. I remember crying when I dropped her off the first day of kindergarten. I remember when she became a teenager. And I will never forget the first young man who asked my permission to date her.

I didn’t cry when we dropped her off at Howard on August 11, 2019. I was too happy. Kelli and I have put a lot of work into Mackenzi’s development.

While driving to D.C. from Atlanta, Mackenzi launched an empowerment apparel line, “Know Your Truth? (KYT?)” The line is to educate and inform the masses about key concepts, events, people, etc., who were conveniently and intentionally left out of our history books.

Mackenzi Stewart. Photo by Steve West.
KYT? steps in where the K-12 educational system never picked up, providing basic, fundamental facts and truths about pivotal people, places and ideas in our society.

Kelli and I did a lot of running to get to this moment of reaping. Mackenzi is starting her running season at the Black Mecca.

Our youngest daughter, Mackenna, is a rising seventh grader at The Lovett School who aspires to become a professional tennis player as early as 15. She is passionate about social activism. Kelli and I are currently doing a lot of running with Mackenna.

Mackenna Stewart. Photo by Steve West.
Reciprocation for me will be when both of my daughters are married. I’m actually looking forward to it. I’m intentionally preparing them today to be a blessing to a man, like their mother is to me.

Running. Reaping. Reciprocation.


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Why baseball really needs to be (all of) ‘America's Favorite Pastime’

Baseball is called America’s pastime. I have always wanted to believe that. I have spent my life chasing the dream and helping others do the same. When I look at the game today, I see it as a microcosm of the American Dream. Some people get what is needed to follow their path and enjoy the experience, while others do not. 

If you look closely at the decline of African-American participation in the sport, you will see what I see. The decline is a social justice issue that cannot be solved until we view it through that lens.

The issue is something that is near and dear to my heart. When I challenge white college coaches about not having as many African-American players as others on their rosters, many say their edict is to recruit the best players in order to win.

I do not believe that assessment measures up. For the past 20 years, I have lived and breathed the game of baseball, logging in more than 20 years of developing and scouting elite level players. I can tell you explicitly that African-American communities across the country are rich in baseball talent, proven by the fact that there already are hundreds competing at the NCAA D-I level.

This opportunity was made possible after Jackie Robinson carved a path for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s "I Have A Dream" speech. The trials and tribulations he endured proves, even today, that they must be adhered to with seriousness.

So yes, we need more Black boys to participate in baseball. To do so, we must first own up to the fact there are tens of thousands eagerly awaiting for their opportunity.

C.J. Stewart with youth in the Northwest Atlanta neighborhood that he grew up in. Photo by Eriel Dunnam.
During the 2017-18 school year, nearly 490,000 boys played high school baseball in the United States. Of that number, let us say that 10 percent were African-American. That is 4,900 African-American boys playing high school baseball. Is that number too hard to believe?

Rhetoric suggests that African-American males are “born good athletes,” yet some believe they are not capable of throwing, catching or hitting a baseball like the Negro Legends that helped save Major League Baseball.

Do you believe that?

Let us say that only 10 percent of those 4,900 African-American high schoolers playing baseball were “good enough” to compete in the classroom and on the baseball field at the NCAA D-I level.

That number is 490.

That means that at any given time, there should be close to 490 African-American males playing baseball at the NCAA D-I level. Why is it not a reality? I believe there are three threats impeding their progress:

1. Implicit bias
2. Colorblindness
3. Blackballing

To help turn this way of thinking around, I am proposing a five-point plan that every baseball organization and community can implement. Let us call it the 5 P’s:

1. Participate
There is no shortage of opportunities for African-American youth to participate in baseball because it is the easiest thing to organize. Participation is the first step to increase the amount of players performing at the collegiate and Major League levels.

2. Practice
Once a player demonstrates a love for the game at the participatory level, it is time to learn how to practice. Thisrequires commitment and discipline. Commitment is a promise made and kept. Discipline is doing the things that need to be done even when you do not want to do them.

Having a love for the game is important because you cannot master something without loving it. Players who love baseball possess commitment and discipline. If stressed properly, both of these characteristics should last a lifetime, helping a player win on and off the field. Commitment and discipline are skills that last a lifetime.

3. Play
Learning how to play baseball does not make sense if you do not know how to practice. Playing the game is nothing short of testing what you are working on at practice. Translation: Practice prepares you to play in the game, and the game dictates what you work on in practice.

Growing up, I did not have access to coaches who were former MLB players. Most of my coaches loved the game and a few played at the D-II level. I learned how to play under their leadership because they allowed me to play the game. We focused on the mistakes made at practice and learned how to make adjustments.

I remember playing in my neighborhood with a tennis ball, a stick and some friends. We received lots of reps uninterrupted by a “coach.” We were our own coaches. As we see too often, coaches can unintentionally coach the critical thinking skills out of a player.

4. Perform
When a player reaches the level that allows him to perform, he has earned the right to compete at the collegiate and/or professional level. Performance requires skills developed as a result of practicing under pressure. The skill yields game impact. Strike the right balance and you can avoid excuses like: "I’m tired." "I’ve never faced this type of pitcher." "I’m hurt."

Performance is the ability to get things done in spite of the circumstances. Players who perform know their ability so well that they can make guarantees and execute. They do not focus on getting hits; they focus on executing what it takes to get a hit (timing and tracking pitches, repeating their approach, etc.). Getting hits is the effect, not the cause.

Players cannot learn how to perform until they learn how to participate, practice and play.

5. Protection
The other P's do not mean anything if we are not protected. When African-American males do not feel their dreams are being protected, they oftentimes are unable to reach an optimum level of performance. Nobody wants to feel like they are doing something in vain.

African-American males often go unprotected because they are silent and deemed naturally resilient. Their silence could be the result of a lack of self-confidence. Their resilience could be the result of having to make things happen on their own.

Boys should not have to figure things out of their own. African-American males need heroes more than they need coaches.

As we see too often, structural racism is a real thing. It shows up in baseball as implicit bias, colorblindness and blackballing. It is time to break the chain.