The following screenplay is based on an event I attended back in 2012 while working as a journalist in the motocross industry. As a screenplay, the work is dramatized and the names have been changed, but it was written to convey my own sentiments and the feeling of that occasion.

Below the script, I have provided my reasoning for writing and posting this now.

This script contains offensive language and racial slurs.

Until I shared the first draft of the script with my wife, I had never once discussed what happened that week with anyone. She cried and so did I. For a long time I had buried the memory deep down where I rarely thought about it, but recent events began to stir up the trauma from that evening of eight years ago. Perhaps it’s the combination of the current political climate, the election and civil unrest along with the forthcoming birth of our first child.

I was forever traumatized from the moment the first “N-bomb” dropped from that racist’s mouth. At first I expected the PR team to step in, but no one did and as the bombs kept falling, I became paralyzed. Paralyzed by anger; by sadness; by hate; by not wanting to jeopardize the job I was literally just starting. But mostly, I was paralyzed by an utter unpreparedness to deal face-to-face with pure unencumbered racism, especially in a group setting in what was supposed to be a professional environment.

As a brown boy and man, racist encounters are par for the course; they come with the territory, but growing up I rarely dealt them… at least not traumatic ones.

I learned the details of how my parents met when I first arrived in Minnesota. “I lived on that farm! That’s where your father and I met,” my mom said when I spoke with her on the phone not long after my arrival.

My mother is white. She’s from a small town in Wisconsin and she did, in fact, live in that little tack room on “Plainview” Farm while working as a nurse at the Mayo Clinic back in the early ’70s. My father is black. He’s a Nigerian immigrant who was doing his residency at the Mayo Clinic when he did, in fact, meet my mom for the first time at “Plainview” Farm during a party. It was uncommon at the time, but they loved each other despite any challenges they faced and have been married now for 45 years. I am the youngest of three boys.

I was raised on a small farm in Central New Jersey near Princeton; a suburban community with pockets of rural living. While I was one of only a handful of non-white kids in my class, I rarely felt otherized.

Even when I discovered this weird (and predominantly white) sport called motocross racing and dove in head first, the color of my skin was a non-issue. Traveling to races in the Tri-State area, the challenge always remained on the track itself and never in the pits.

When “Kintaka” invited me out to Minnesota for the launch of their new machine, I only expected the professionalism I’d been met with at any other motocross industry event working as a journalist. If any company would understand racial sensitivity, I assumed it would be “Kintaka.” After all, they had been a longtime sponsor of a very successful African American rider. Therefore I was beyond disappointed that no one in that army of green and black personnel in Minnesota did a thing to stop the onslaught of bigoted buffoonery on stage that evening. I assumed racial sensitivity was still ingrained within the company, but I was wrong.

Recently, the current US President announced he was banning racial sensitivity training for all federal agencies and contractors. Of all the terrible things he has done, this particular motion hit particularly close to home. It wasn’t long before the ghosts of the incident in Minnesota began resurfacing in my mind. When I had a nightmare about it, in which I was forced to relive each of those jokesters stepping up to the microphone, I knew I could no longer remain silent about what happened.

Racial sensitivity isn’t a burden, it’s a responsibility to your fellow human beings; it’s not an indoctrination of ideologies, it’s understanding that everyone is different and no one, not even identical twins, is the same; it’s about embracing the diversity of the human experience rather than criticizing or hating or fearing it; it’s appreciating that your own words and actions, whatever you choose them to be, have an impact on other people.

Racial sensitivity training is about breaking down ones own perception of what’s acceptable, and comprehending someone else’s view point; it’s about empathy.

Those other press members in Minnesota who chose to take the stage didn’t have empathy then and I fear they don’t now. I fear that they have only been shown by the sitting President that they were correct in their lack of compassion. I fear they believe racist jokes are acceptable and legitimately humorous. Mostly, I fear that my son will be entering a world in which an entire generation of civil servants have been taught nothing of embracing diversity, and that lack of empathy will subsequently trickle down throughout our society.

I often wish I could go back to that day and challenge the offenders, but I now know that as the only African American in the room it should not have been up to me to take action. I will always feel regret over that evening, but the guilty parties were those who took the stage, and “Kintaka” for not stopping or confronting them. I also know that the weak attempt the PR team made at covering themselves following day (“Were you okay with that?”) only showed their complete lack of racial sensitivity or understanding of the situation.

Was I okay with that? Take a guess.

As the US is poised to begin another four-year stint with either the current President or a new one, I hope voters will consider the long-lasting effects of bigotry, prejudice and racism on individuals on communities. Racial sensitivity is not simply about respecting others skin color, it’s about respecting other’s families; other’s histories; other’s stories and how they connect with those around them. It’s about respecting your fellow human beings, neighbors and citizens. Racial sensitivity is about respecting your country.

To my parents: I wish being on that farm had presented a positive, life-altering experience for me as it had for you. It altered my life forever although not in the same light, but I will no longer let it govern me.

To my wife: Thank you for being the strong shoulder I could lean on to finally say what I needed to say.

To my son: I’ve never met you, but I will always love you. You control your own path. Don’t let others control it for you.



Freelance photographer/writer. Published on Huffington Post, and more. Loves coffee, dirt bikes and beer but is perplexed by the IPA craze.

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Bayo Olukotun

Freelance photographer/writer. Published on Huffington Post, and more. Loves coffee, dirt bikes and beer but is perplexed by the IPA craze.