Isreal Sesay - Ontario Fury
What makes you most proud about being a Black man?
The rich history of Black people not just here in America but throughout the world, we have so much history to be proud of. Black people have contributed so much to the world and we have had to overcome so much and yet we are still here, and still rising.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
First I would like to say I celebrate Black excellence 365 days out of the year. However Black history month is a month where Black people can regain confidence, restore memory, learn about Black excellence, bridge the gap, and learn about our history because as you know our school curriculums have yet to include Black people the way they should. During slavery and colonialism Black people were robbed of a knowledge of self, we weren't allowed to practice cultural beliefs, our spirituality, and our natives ways, we had to adapt to take on a lot of beliefs from our colonizers, and in the process we lost a bit of who we are and our history. So this month is important because its opportunity to regain it and tell our story, but even more important for our Black children so they understand our ancestors were not just slaves they were enslaved and that they are descendants from scholars, inventors, activist, kings, queens, pharaohs , and the list goes on.
Who was your greatest influence/role model growing up?
Growing up my Grandma was my greatest influence or role model.
What is one thing you wish people knew about being a Black athlete?
As a Black professional athlete it is a misconception that racism disappears because you make it on a professional stage. When in fact we are under even more scrutiny because we have a larger platform and a bigger responsibility to our communities. I like to pride myself in being even more self conscious of the image that I portray because, the system of racism and the media has done an excellent job of destroying the image of Black males in particular, which has caused many people to have misconceptions about us and prejudice towards us. It is our responsibility to take our image back, this is why I carry myself in Black excellence, pride, self respect, and dignity so our future generation of children have positive figures to model after in all aspects of life, not just athletics.
What barriers have you had to overcome to reach this point in your career?
I have overcome a lot of injuries and set back to reach at this point of my career. Also making a transition from Sierra Leone to the United States has also helped shape me to where I am today. The difficulties you have to face from learning the language, culture, food etc was not an easy barrier to overcome.