October 14, 2008

Mills almost committed suicide

Mills:  Perceptions of others can break you, but pursuing dreams healsEarlier in his running career, a newspaper photographer had asked Mills to step out of a group shot of cross-country runners, even though he had been named the Division I champion. A Canadian runner interceded on Mills' behalf, saying if Mills wasn't part of the portrait he wouldn't pose either.

This experience would be repeated the next year and the following year, too.

It was at this time, Mills went to his hotel room stood on a window ledge and closed his eyes. Swaying next to the glass, he considered ending his life.

The perception being that he, an Oglala Lakota, was not quite good enough.

"Perceptions almost broke me," he said.
Comment:  Recall that Mills is a motivational speaker who generally accentuates the positive. The reality of his life was probably worse than what he revealed here.

This anecdote is a testament to the terrible power of racism and stereotyping. If a successful athlete considered suicide, you can imagine why a battered spouse or neglected child might commit suicide.

For more on the subject, see The Harm of Native Stereotyping:  Facts and Evidence.

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