AwareNow: Issue 25: The Light Edition

Page 68




This means that race may not be top of mind, but I’m not naïve. As a young Black man with a voice, I know it’s important, vital even, that I shed light on mistreatment, discrimination, and the structures and strategies that need to be changed in America and everywhere. People of color need the same access and treatment as everyone else.

It’s my sincere hope that the current discussions around race are a real step at removing the barriers for those who have been marginalized, that we are moving toward a society that embraces our varied cultures. We all have to be willing to have an open conversation to make that society a reality.

As a Black athlete and a professional speaker, Black History Month is a busy time for me. My job takes me to a lot of places and puts me in front of a lot of people; rich, poor, gay, straight, black, brown, and white. But I don’t use that to primarily define who it is I’m speaking to. I’m going into those spaces and relating my experiences and opening up conversation. In return, there’s three things I need from them.

When I walk up on stage, I need them to see me as a man. I am Black. Everyone knows the mistreatment and discrimination that has historically come with being Black in America, and it clearly needs to be discussed even more. More action is necessary.

When I walk up on stage, I need them to see me as a man. I am blind. Blindness, like my blackness, does not define me, does not make me less than.

When I walk up on stage, I need them to see me as a man, as an athlete, as intelligent, as a speaker, as one who is willing to have the conversations needed for everyone to know, “We are all people. We all have something to offer the world.” ∎ LEX GILLETTE

5x Paralympic Medalist, 4x World Champion & Keynote Speaker LEX GILLETTE has quickly become one of the most sought after keynote speakers on the market. Losing his sight at the age of eight was painful to say the least, but life happens. Things don’t always go your way. You can either stay stuck in frustration because the old way doesn’t work anymore, or you can create a new vision for your life, even if you can’t see how it will happen just yet. His sight was lost, but Lex acquired a renewed vision, a vision that has seen him become the best totally blind long and triple jumper Team USA has ever witnessed.