Before middle school, Bill Cosby was every black man to me, then came Mr. Brawley.

Some of the memories I have of Mr. Brawley might get him fired, but I think he’s been retired a few years now, so I won’t worry. This was a guy who was almost as wide as he was tall and somehow a gym teacher. I guess he was from the “do-as-I-say” school of gym instruction. For some reason, bright red jogging pants and a grizzled gray beard keep invading my memory as I think about him, sort of like Santa Clause without all the velvet. He also often sported a tight blue pocket T-shirt, his belly begging for freedom.


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