Former Indianapolis Colt Gary Brackett Pens New Book on Diversity and Inclusion
Writer / Ryan Kennedy
Photographer / Walker Photography
Former Indianapolis Colts linebacker Gary Brackett made 707 tackles during his nine-year NFL career. Now a professional speaker and business coach, Brackett is tackling the complex conversations surrounding diversity and inclusion in his new book, “30 Days to Diversity.”
In May of 2020, Brackett drove downtown to get a haircut and witnessed firsthand what he’d already seen on social media. The protests in response to the murder of George Floyd had started peacefully, but had eventually taken a violent turn. Windows were broken, businesses were damaged, cars were set ablaze. Brackett says he knew something needed to be done. He knew someone needed to work towards educating and unifying the community, so he got to work on his book.
“30 Days to Diversity” is the culmination of two years of research by Brackett. The book is aimed at the business community, but can be helpful to anyone looking to create a more diverse and inclusive environment. The book is 30 chapters divided into Brackett’s CHAMP framework, looking at the current situation and root causes of issues, honing in on desired outcomes, applying principles to eliminate and delegate things that no longer serve a purpose, taking massive action to achieve desired outcomes, and pursuing a championship transformation and chasing the best version of ourselves.
As Brackett points out in the “30 Days to Diversity” introduction, this is not a book for the faint of heart. It bluntly discusses issues that make some people uncomfortable and that some decry as divisive topics. Issues such as critical race theory, the Black Lives Matter movement, defunding the police, and privilege, have their own chapter in the book. Rather than preaching or lecturing, Brackett calmly breaks down these topics and provides crucial history and context behind them. Many of these topics, he says, aren’t all that controversial or divisive once one understands their origins and what they’re actually about.
“I wanted to address some of these loaded topics in a way where I can humanize them by sharing some of my stories,” Brackett says in the book. “The whole notion of ‘I’m colorblind and blame it on my innocence,’ I think that’s no longer viable. I think we have to open our eyes to color and see people where they are in regards to their color, in regards to their ethnicity, in regards to their religions and in regards to their gender. I think all these things are important if we’re going to truly be inclusive.”
Throughout the book, Brackett discusses how his experiences in NFL locker rooms and managing businesses taught him the value of interacting with people of different backgrounds and walks of life. He highlights the value of not just listening to others, but also actually making the effort to hear what they have to say and understand where they are coming form.
Brackett believes that most people want to do the right thing, but he says the media and bad-faith actors are contributing to the divisive atmosphere in our communities. “I think the bad guys are winning in terms of like the trash that we see online, the media, and just some of their triggering comments and things that they do,” he says. “They want us to not get along. They want us to argue and bicker over these things. Being in a community, like I am seeing these companies inside of them, they want to do well. They want to have unity and they want to know how.”
“30 Days to Diversity” is all about the “how.” Brackett isn’t interested in simply highlighting problems – he’s interested in finding solutions. The book is full of daily activities and actionable items to help businesses and people be more diverse and inclusive. Brackett acknowledges that he’s not going to solve centuries of racism and prejudice in 30 days, but he says “30 Days to Diversity” is an important step in the right direction.
“I think we got to try,” he says. “We got to make an attempt. I think a lot of people won’t change, and will still feel how they feel and think how they think, but a lot of people will. I think there are more of the people that will than that won’t.”
“30 Days to Diversity” is a companion piece to the “30 Days to Diversity” workbook, as well as the workshop Brackett developed to help businesses handle issues of diversity and inclusion.