Improving diversity and inclusion and building harmony among different cultures and communities is one of the biggest challenges we need to overcome at all levels of society. Our guest today is a pioneer in advocating for diversity and inclusion. Bo-Dean Sanders, a speaker and the author of the book “Race Against… …Against Race”, joins us to talk about all things diversity. Today’s episode is the first of a two-part series with Bo-Dean Sanders, and in today’s episode, we work through Bo-Dean’s background, culture in his home community, his high school and college years, lessons he learned throughout the years.
Growing up in a community of color has its own unique influences that shape one’s life path. Throughout his high school years, Bo-Dean realized how some of the systemic issues of the school system affected the student. We dive into how these inequalities ultimately led some students to drop out of school and why women, in general, used to graduate from high school or pursue their higher education more often than men did.
Bo-Dean’s family and mentors wanted him to pursue an academic career, and they wanted him to go to college. Bo-Dean also wanted to go to college. However, it was because of his love for football rather than the hope of pursuing what his mentors expected of him. We talk about the way he got the opportunity to go to college, his experience at the Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, how his sports career advanced through the college years, and how his big dream of being recruited to play for a Division II football team came true.
As Bo-Dean advanced in his sports career, his family didn’t share the same enthusiasm about it. He talks about the work he had to do in terms of communication in order to make his family agree with his choices. During all these years, Bo-Dean had to work and be teammates with players and coaches from different backgrounds who had different personality traits. Wrapping up the first part of the interview, Bo-Dean shares his thoughts on the challenges he had to face while working with people from diverse backgrounds and what he did to overcome them.
[01:25] School System, Dropouts and Culture – Bo-Dean graduated from high school in the early 80s in a community of color. We start the conversation with what he experienced during his high school years about how the inequalities in the school system and the culture caused many students to give up on education.
[09:14] Men and Women in Education – One of the notable observations Bo-dean made about his high school years is that women used to finish high school or go to college more than men. Bo-Dean shares his take on the reasons for this tendency.
[12:52] Going to College – Bo-Dean had a mentor in high school who wanted him to go to college and pursue an academic path. However, the real reason Bo-Dean wanted to go to college was to play football. We talk about the focus and determination he had for his goals.
[19:33] Unexpected Opportunities – Bo-Dean talks about how he got the opportunity to go to college in a surprising way.
[26:34] Bo-Dean’s College Experience – The Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities (HBCU), is where Bo-Dean received his undergraduate education. He talks about the history and background of the university and the experience of learning there.
[32:00] Assumptions About Other Races and Communities – In his early years in college, he participated in a special basketball game where he had been teammates with a white guy for the first time. He talks about how it felt and what he learned about collaborating and teaming up with people from different backgrounds.
[38:00]Dreams that Come True – Eventually, Bo-Dean gets recruited to play for a Division II football team, which was his dream since high school. He talks about the experience of achieving one of his biggest dreams.
[46:15] Family and Sports – As Bo-Dean went further in his sports career, the response he received from his family was different from what he was expecting. We talk about how he managed to communicate with his family about his choices.
[53:41] Working with Coaches – As a sportsman, Bo-Dean had to work with many coaches from different backgrounds. We talk about the challenges he faced and the support he received to overcome them.