October 17, 2015

Navigating Racial Issues As A Parent

My parents were as good as they come, giving their three children all the love and trust we needed to build confidence and self-esteem. My father, Joe Lapchick, was a famous player for the Original Celtics, was head coach for St. John’s and later for the Knicks. I was proud of my father’s work and the way he fought racism in sport. He was the first white player to take a center jump against a black man. He signed Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton as the first black player in the NBA.

baskI shared his passion for equality. I chose a profession that let me travel across the country talking to parents and young people about conflict resolution and race relations. The rewards were great, as were the dangers. While teaching at a college in Virginia, I was physically assaulted by two white men, causing liver and kidney damage, a hernia and a concussion. They carved the word “nigger” into my stomach with a pair of scissors.

Our family moved to …