Senior ESPN writer and author Howard Bryant released his ninth book “Full Dissidence: Notes From an Uneven Playing Field” earlier this year. The book consists of ten essays that explain the different ways in which American Society shows their disdain for Blackness and Black people.
Colin Kaepernick’s protest, celebrity donations, Military idolatry, and integration are some of the many topics covered in his book.
Bryant noted how Kaepernick was the source of inspiration for the title. In 2016, the former NFL quarterback and activist announced that he did not vote during the presidential election.
“Everybody was criticizing him and saying that he was not voting undermined everything he was doing and I disagree with that,” Bryant said. “I said maybe he went full dissidence … he decided that why would I contribute to a system that doesn’t work?”
One conclusion that he comes to in the book is how the recent nationwide teacher strike were more courageous than the protest NFL players made after Kaepernick’s protest.
“The idea that the players were out front on all these issues, they really weren’t,” Bryant said. “Athletes aren’t actually leading on this, they’re actually following.”
In some of the essays, Bryant alludes to accounts in his own life. In his formative years, he attended predominantly white schools with a hope that he would get a good education. He had to learn how to find acceptance among his White classmates while being separated from the Black community.
Bryant noted how Blackness is a conglomerate of various experiences but notoriously deemed as single faceted.
“What I was trying to get at in that chapter was the price that we’ve paid for trying to get ahead,” he said. “Everything about being upwardly mobile in this country is about getting away from Black people.”
“Full Dissidence” gives examples of how sporting events are one of the many platforms used to put the military on a pedestal. Bryant recalls how sporting events have changed since the September 11 tragedy; since then, the military constantly get acknowledgment and accolades throughout sporting events.
“They were using sports as a recruiting tool,” he said. “Sporting events are great vehicles for that. You get us versus them, you get an American male demographic … those people love to compare themselves to the military, so when you look into the language, you hear it.”
Through “Full Dissidence,” Bryant presents the world he sees around him. When asked for solutions to the issues he brought up, Bryant urges that readers look within themselves to create those solutions.
“For me, where I go from here is recognizing that I didn’t have to listen to what people thought was the traditional path of getting somewhere,” he said. “I look at this and I’m like “you don’t have to buy into this anymore.”