NFL legend Michael Vick is a part of the league’s “Inspire Change” initiative, which focuses on facilitating conversations and actions that move the community toward a more equal and just tomorrow. An essential part of their social justice efforts is the ongoing awareness that systemic racism is deeply entrenched in society and contributes to barriers to opportunity and equality.
Vick spoke with rolling out about what representation means to him, and ways we can inspire change in our community.
What does representation in life mean to you?
I think just trying to be in the present as much as you can, being proactive, and doing things that you believe in a lot more will allow you to be successful in whatever you set out to do, as well as a beneficial standpoint for yourself or for others. Representation means being in the present or living in the present.
Why is representation important in the criminal justice system?
My representation in that is that I lived two years in prison. It was not the easiest thing for me coming from a situation and background where I’ve seen it happen to so many people and vowed to not be that person, and I ended up being that person. As I went through life as a young man it was all about navigating juvenile detention, navigating the prison system, and staying away from that in totality. I didn’t do it, I fell into the trap, and it was unfortunate. Being able to overcome that and post-incarceration, I say it was not only big for me but for so many other people that need help, no matter the circumstance. I look back now and say prevention was the most important thing. I know it started at an early age, but still, some things you can’t control. People will end up in bad situations, and it’s all about help and reform.
What are some ways that we can inspire change in our communities?
Be conscious of your surroundings and what’s around you. Take on a leadership role, and believe that everybody can be a leader, whether you’re eight-years-old, 25-years-old, or anywhere in between. Be proactive. Nothing is going to happen if you’re sitting on the couch, and nothing is going to happen if you don’t speak out, stand up, and point out the BS that’s going on around you. People may look at it as you telling, snitching, or however they want to look at it. It’s about trying to make the community better and things around you better. Try to make each other better, each one, teach one.