By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 7, 2001
Bucs second-year running back Aaron Stecker grew up in a town called Ashwaubenon, near Green Bay. Here are a few Stecker takes on being black in Wisconsin, the bi-racial world he lives in, music videos, psychics, favorite people and the Bee Gees.
What was it like growing up African-American in a small Wisconsin town?
AS: Different. It's only about 1- or 2-percent black up there. The people I was friends with were mostly white and I didn't know any different. In terms of coming to terms with different cultures, I think once I got to college, it broadened my horizons and I learned about different things and being black.
RM: What was it like at home?
AS: My mother is white and my father is black. I lived with my mother, so she explained my black heritage and where I came from. But I also learned my white heritage. Once I got to college I took courses in African-American studies and was around a lot more blacks and I gained an understanding of the experience. They didn't grow up in Green Bay. They were from the inner cities of Chicago and Philly, so I understood where they were coming from. There were some things that I didn't know at first, but I realized them eventually.
RM: Any bad experiences as a child?
AS: There was a time, I remember, I was going into the third or fourth grade, and it was the first time I was ever called the "N" word. All I was doing was walking across the street from our house and this guy was in his car. I knew he was a deer hunter because he had his fluorescent plaid shirt on and he said, "Hey you, n---, get across the street." I remember I went home and cried and asked my mom why? She told me there are ignorant people in the world and it's not going to be the last time I'm going to hear that word. She said I just have to handle it and it'll make me a better person.
RM: Your wife, Kara, is white. Any coincidence there?
AS: No. It just happened to be that she is white. She could have been green. It wouldn't have mattered to me.
RM: Let's not go with the green.
AS: All right, maybe that's a bit too far. But any other color.
RM: Do you accept that there might be some challenges being a black and white couple, particularly in Wisconsin?
AS: That's true. But even here, we go places with a lot of black people and we get stared at. To me, I say, "She's white, but you're just looking at her color." I didn't marry her because she's white. I married her because I love her.
RM: Is it right to postpone the release of movies with have terrorist themes?
AS: I agree that, for a time, it's good to postpone them. But it's only for so long that you can put something off. As terrible as things were in New York, life has to go on. Nothing is going to get done that way. Things like movies are just fiction.
RM: BET or MTV?
AS: BET. It's more my view. It's more of what I like to listen to. When I turn on MTV, there may be one video that I like then four of them that I don't like.
RM: Just wondering, where can I find the women who "act" in music videos?
AS: I don't know. I have often asked myself the same thing. When you see a video, you might see 20 or 25 beautiful women. I have never been anywhere, anywhere, where they have all been in one spot.
RM: Tell the truth, you believe in everyone's psychic friend, Miss Cleo?
AS: No. Every time I see Miss Cleo I turn the channel. I've got no love at all for Miss Cleo. I don't believe in that stuff. I have superstitions, but as far as psychics, no. People want to have something to believe in. In their lives, they want to have someone tell them what's going to happen or they can't figure out things.
RM: Who is the most impressive person you've ever met?
AS: That's hard because there have been different people influence different stages in my life.
AS: Like my mother. She was a single mother who took care of me and my brother. If we wanted something, she worked just a bit harder to get it for us. Plus, she had to raise two boys. I am very dark skinned and my brother is very light skinned. So she would get those stares too. I'm proud of the way she handled it and overcame it. Then in the middle of my life, I met my wife. There were times in college when I thought I was getting the wrong end of the stick and she was there to support me and was always by my side. Now in the NFL, I look to Warrick (Dunn) just to see how he handles things. He has had more adversity than I ever had, with his mother dying and him having to take care of his siblings, and he has handled it remarkably.
RM: Favorite gangster movie?
AS: New Jack City. At the time it came out, the way they did the movie, I think the two producers were up and coming. (I liked) the way they explained how the crack cocaine industry got huge.
RM: Childhood hero?
AS: Walter Payton. I had posters of him. I don't know how I got hooked on him, but once I did, I always wanted to watch him and be like him. Not just in football, but how he handled himself out of football.
RM: What's your favorite Bee Gees song?
AS: I've got to say Staying Alive. You know, I just saw them on TV the other day on a special about the '70s. I like their beat. (Back in the day) they were coming on.
RM: People today may not want to give them their props, but they had it going on.
AS: At the time, they had that beat, everyone was bopping their heads. People still bop their heads.
RM: My question is, why hasn't P Diddy made a remake?
AS: I don't know, he's remade everything else, hasn't he? He needs to do that. Show them some love.