By Tyrice Simmons

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It began in my senior year of high school. I was persuaded to join the basketball team in the winter of that school year, yet another sport called me, wrestling. The idea struck me while performing a short skit in drama class about underdog wrestler. This wrestler who was implemented with the desire and the ambition to become the greatest. This wrestler at the time was me.
At first I was skeptical about joining this sport. During this time I had never heard of an African-American wrestler. It seemed as though many others bought into with this misinformation. Throughout my wrestling season I was criticized as well as scrutinized as an African-American joining this supposedly European sport. I suppose being the only African-American guy on the team did not help to abate the stereotypes.
During my time as a wrestler I was given a nickname by a few of my teammates. I was nicknamed “Black Plague” or “Black Death” for how I aggressive I wrestled. At the time I was fully aware of the discriminatory connotation that was sided with these so-called “compliments.” Instead of speaking out against their ignorance, I decided to accept their derogatory slurs as compliments. I felt as though it was not my place to right their wrongs, so I kept quiet.
After my season as a wrestler a few former teammates continued with their derogatory nicknames. Sadly, I became accustomed to it.

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