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Author: LM Penner

Be Bold: Be Brave

art pratice black history month bold brave football semantics Feb 25, 2022

  Written by LM Penner

The Differences and Similarities Between Being Bold and Being Brave

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. What is the difference between being bold and being brave? I'm a writer, so I'm big on words, and I've noticed that here at Bold School we tend to use the two words interchangeably. So, I've wondered, are the differences real? Or are they just a matter of semantics?

February where I live is Black History Month. Today I've spent some time watching a movie called The Express: The Ernie Davis Story. Ernie Davis was an incredibly gifted black football player who was the first pick in the NFL draft in 1962. The movie focuses significantly on the racism Davis and the two other black players on his college team faced. At one point in the show, the coach wants to take Davis out of the game because he fears for the team's safety if the black running back scores a touchdown. Davis defies him and later confronts him and demands to know if the coach thinks he is invisible. Do you see the person behind the number, behind the moves? Am I a member of this team or not? He tells the coach, in effect, that he can't be brave unless the coach is brave.

I mean, don't quote me on any of that, and it's a movie. I've no idea if the conversation ever happened or not, but what I do know is that on the field Davis had bold moves. Walking onto the field amid the hatred he faced just for the color of his skin, that was brave. For the coach, putting black players on the team at that time in history was bold. Letting them play and fighting for them to have the same privileges as the white team members was brave. And bold, brave actions like theirs changed the sports world and continue to change the world we live in. 

I think being bold and being brave often go together. One fuels the other. Still, I don't think they are quite the same. If you look up the definitions, bold means "showing an ability to take risks, confident and courageous." Brave means "ready to face and endure danger and pain, showing courage."

Boldness, I think, is a trait. A description. Of an action, an object, or even a personality. Bravery is a choice. Or, in the words of Ernie Davis, "Football is just a game. What matters is what you play for." 

So, what are you 'playing for' with your art? As bold artists, we want to be willing to take risks, to potentially experience hurt. Do we also want to change the world?

Creativity awaits!


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