As I was reading Concussion, it became clear quite early that a large part of the book was about looking past the surface. This idea is applicable to many different parts of the book, especially Bennett Omalu’s depression, the racism he experiences, and the corruption in the NFL. When Bennett first arrives in the United States, he isn’t all that familiar with racism, as he had never experienced it back in Nigeria. Honestly, hearing about racism from the perspective of someone who has experienced it puts it in a whole new light. It’s not all overt, obvious signs; more often racism is subtle, so much so that Bennett doesn’t even realize he is experiencing it for a long time after he moves to America.
While Bennett may have had some trouble realizing the racism being directed at him from others, then his depression presented the opposite problem: no one was noticing the severe depression just below Bennett’s smiley surface. Concussion offers a perspective on mental illness that represents depression much more accurately than most other books, movies, or television shows. Most people equate depression to long-term sadness, but in my experience with people with depression, that isn’t the case at all. More often someone with depression isn’t in such a state that you could have a conversation with them and infer that they have depression. Bennett is a wonderful representation of the reality of depression; he is loved for his quirky laugh and his cheerful demeanor. Those who speak to him wouldn’t have any idea that he’s constantly engaged in a struggle against himself. Furthermore, Bennett gives a good representation of the recovery from depression. He doesn’t do one thing that magically makes his depression vanish, but he does eventually manage to move past it.
The underlying corruption of the NFL is one of the central themes of the book. As Bennett continually pushes for reform in football to prevent CTE, the NFL hires scientists and other experts to discount his work. This corruption seems immediately obvious to the reader, but when it was actually happening, it was probably much more fast-paced and hard to understand. Just as I said in my reader’s response to Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, on major issue in today’s world is corruption in big corporations, when money becomes more important than human life and happiness. Concussion offers up a prime example of this corruption