Building intentional empathy

I'm half Black, African American, and half Korean. My father's African American. He's from Columbus, Ohio, and was in the Air Force. And my mother is Korean. She's from South Korea, Daegu city in South Korea. And they met in the Air Force when my dad was in Korea, married and then came back to the United States. And I was born shortly thereafter.

You know, I don't think when I was young, I was really not much aware of, you know, I had a minority mother, a mother that wasn't from the United States. And I just knew her as mom and I think as you get older, you start to see it. You know, that hey, my mom's Korean, not every mother is Korean. But it kind of helped me evolve to who I am, I was around a whole bunch of diversity. Probably, I would say majority, white, probably 75% white. I grew up around– it might have been said 60% white, and then probably 35% African American and then a little scattered over the other than that. But I think it helped me not see, you know, really a racial division. You know, interracial relationships were something that was kind of normal to me. It's something that I'm in now. My wife's Italian and, but it's also something that you embrace. You know, I embraced my Korean background. I did Taekwondo, which is a Korean martial art, growing up. But also, you know, I did sports and embraced my African American side. So really diverse, unique, saw a lot of different sides of things.

I think you see more and more diversity in our country. And I want my kids to embrace, not only people for how they see them physically, but who they are on the inside. And it's important for them to judge people off of their actions, judge people off of their personality and who they are instead of just how they look. And it starts with my kids. And I don't know, if you asked my young kids right now they consider themselves white, Black, Korean. I don't know. You know, and we really don't talk about that much. It's just, you're you. You're Vinny, you’re Gino, I won’t go through the list of names, but you're a person and you judge people based off actions and not on how they look.

Yeah, I think it has to be very intentional, and we have to be very intentional about the opportunities to get together and to talk and discuss and have empathy for each other. That's the thing that you see we need more of throughout our entire country and our world – is that you don't always have to be right. You can have your opinion but have empathy for somebody else's opinion. In a way somebody else sees a certain situation. But that doesn't happen unless you spend time with people. And that doesn't happen unless you're willing to swallow your own pride and say, okay, we can agree to disagree. You don't always have to win an opinion on a conversation, but it's got to be intentional. We have to make time to spend time together to have a real community and real relationships that help us form a true bond and blend amongst different ethnicities.

Marcus Freeman

Marcus Freeman is the Dick Corbett Football Head Coach for the University of Notre Dame.