Being a kid coming up in the late 60s and 70s, Muhammad Ali was an important figure for me. When my schoolmates were talking about white superiority, it was clear they had never watched Ali.
He was the pinnacle of human evolution, a natural leader who was handsome, charming and supremely athletic. Which is why most of my peers hated him with all their hearts.
Every time they hoped and prayed their white hope would dethrone him their dreams were dashed.
And when they bullied me, this doughy little white kid dreamt of being like him. I won’t lie, I had a real tough time standing up for myself. But the day a bunch of white kids gathered around a little little black girl on the playground and started shooting off their mouths, I was finally able to put up my dukes.
Of course now we know that all of humanity is one race, or at least most of us do. Back then it wasn’t even close to settled.
Which is why I love Ali and now grieve his passing. Because he wasn’t just a player in my personal awakenIng to the oneness of race, he was part of the global awakening that began in the 60s and is still going on today.
He was the master of the jab, both verbal and literal. With a flash of the tongue or a flick of his left fist he set the world spinning like no other.
That jab, that incredible jab…