Willie Cauley-Stein wants people to see more than his tattoos

Golden State Warriors center Willie Cauley-Stein wants people to see past the stereotypes some hold of young black males who are tatted up like himself.

Cauley-Stein recently spoke with ESPN’s Marc J. Spears about how he is perceived by others because of his numerous tattoos. Cauley-Stein told Spears that he is shy and usually doesn’t initiate conversation.

But he also mentioned other people may be hesitant to talk with him because of his appearance. The full interview with Spears can be read here.

“They don’t know how to come up to you either,” Cauley-Stein said. “They say, ‘Man, you got tattoos on your face.’ The first thing that they see. They’re not even looking in your eyes. They’re looking at the tattoos on your face. I made that perception on me because I felt like that’s part of my movement. I want to look like the ’hood but … I want to get past the perception of what people put on people. The stigma that they put on, on people that look like me.”

A fifth-year player out of Kentucky, Cauley-Stein said he was aware during college of how his tattoos would affect the way others perceived him. He referenced his mother to Spears, as he said she has more tattoos than he does.

“She’s more tattooed than me, so she gets the stigma on it,” Cauley-Stein said. “And, to me, I want that. I want people to look at me, think I’m some thug and then talk to me and realize this dude is intelligent. Just completely different than what we thought.”

The perception people have of Cauley-Stein and others with similar appearances is usually negative, or at the very least filled with misunderstanding.

With Cauley-Stein speaking his truth, though, he’s empowering himself and others like him to be their genuine selves.

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