Serena Williams breaks her silence
In powerful Facebook post, Williams addresses police brutality
6:00 PMFor her whole career, Serena Williams’ excellent existence in tennis has been an exercise in activism. Her entire approach to not just her appearance, but her physical game is a demonstration of blackness that turned the tennis world on its head and completely reshaped how America viewed not just black athletes, but black women in general. She has never been shy on speaking her mind or boycotting tournaments, and Tuesday she took to Facebook to address a matter very personal to her.
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As protests about the treatment of people of color by police officers spread from the NFL all the way down to the middle school level across the country, Williams’ voice is the most powerful. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has handled the spark he created masterfully, but is still ultimately a backup quarterback. Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, when asked about the state of America, took a similar tact to Williams’ — calling his own family into the discussion.
“It’s a scary thought right now to think if my son gets pulled over, and you tell your kids if you just [comply], and you just listen to the police that they will be respectful and things will work itself out,” James said. “And you see these videos that continue to come out. It’s a scary-ass situation that if my son calls me and said he’s been pulled over, that I’m not that confident that things are going to go well and that my son is going to return home.”
While the NBA is a global league from a culture standpoint and the NFL is the biggest sport in the United States, Williams’ situation is in a different echelon. Her platform, because of the sport she plays and her popularity in general, enters a sphere that few active players in team sports can reach. We’re talking about a woman who crip-walked at the All England Club after winning an Olympic gold medal.
“I am a total believer that not ‘everyone’ is bad. It is just the ones that are ignorant, afraid, uneducated and insensitive that is affecting millions and millions of lives,” she wrote. “But I realized we must stride on — for it’s not how far we have come but how much further still we have to go. I than wondered than have I spoken up? I had to take a look at me. What about my nephews? What if I have a son and what about my daughters? As Dr. Martin Luther King said, ‘There comes a time when silence is betrayal.’ ”
Monday was her 35th birthday. The feeling and personal reflection in that post is palpable and poignant. There are people who believe that perhaps her tennis career is winding down. But she’s still got the behemoth that is Nike on her side and a human side that her fans adore and others are forced to respect. When she talks, people listen. No matter the language. If Williams sets her sights on taking her activism to the next level, both on the court and off, the movement gets a signal boost that no one else can provide.
‘Please Forgive Me’ is not worth your time
unless you’re really into Drake’s action-hero, savior complex
6:32 PMDrake’s acting range keeps staying the same, but his short films keep getting longer. His latest foray into the “Aubrey saves woman from a band of goons” genre is a 20-plus minute oeuvre directed and written by Anthony Mandler titled Please Forgive Me. It’s shot beautifully, but the story is weak, the dialogue is even worse and ultimately you feel like the 6 God is trying to angle his way into a role in Bad Boys For Life.
This started back in 2010, when the Find Your Love video dropped. Also directed by Mandler, it featured a storyline that had the artist pursuing a girl dating a gang leader. The premise didn’t exactly make everyone in Jamaica (where it was shot) happy. Officials thought it portrayed their country in an overly negative light. People took it with a grain of salt and made a bunch of jokes about how “Wheelchair Jimmy,” his character for so many years on Degrassi, had finally grown up.
In 2013, it was Hold On, We’re Going Home that kept up this character of Drake being the sensitive lover who has no choice but to dabble in the thug world to meet the good girl — more on that later — he must save. That time it was set in 1980s-era Miami. It was a lengthier departure from the previous storyline although the theme was similar. There were cameos galore and we got to see Drake talking on a rotary phone. On the “did we need this scale,” it clocked in at unnecessary.
Now that it’s 2016, we’ve evolved to not only Apple Music, where it was released, but also a multisong soundtrack. There’s even a performance at one point. The plot is somewhere between Indecent Proposal and Belly, with a random photo shoot in the middle for Belgian model Fanny Neguesha. It’s sexy and serious and all the other things that a good vanity project needs to be.
It’s just not very good. There are long pregnant pauses in the acting, a bunch of lengthy panning shots of the star. Then we’re back to the squad in all-black, and this time Drake’s gun game is a little stronger. But again, what is with this persona? Back before he fully went nuts on the rap game and was just a kid on a show in Toronto living with his mom, he rapped this:
I been a mess since every girl I left went
and a got a new man but I’m the new version of Fresh Prince
and the beds got bunked for real, I switch wifeys every season like Uncle Phil
If he genuinely wants to reignite his acting career and take a career path along the lines of Will Smith, it’s probably time to get himself a part in a real flick — not just play parts in his own videos that emulate fantasies he’s had since that old basement apartment. He’s better than this.
FIFA disbands anti-racism task force
under the assertion that the group’s work is done
4:17 PMRacism is no longer a problem in soccer. At least, that’s according to FIFA, which made a decision to disband its anti-racism task force, established in 2013 by then-president Sepp Blatter. In a hilarious twist that only FIFA could manage, the association handed out its first-ever diversity award Monday to an Indian nongovernmental organization named Slum Soccer. You can’t make this stuff up.
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FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura claims that the program had its goals, met those goals and now is implementing them. Her hiring alone was an indicator of FIFA’s progress in matters related to diversity (she’s the first African to hold the position), but let’s be real. Fighting for diversity and continuing practices on inclusion are not issues that exist in a static vacuum. It’s an ongoing institutional function that touches more than just heads of federations, but trickles down to the crowd experience and even youth level academies.
Russia, the nation scheduled to host the 2022 men’s World Cup, was nearly kicked out of Euro 2016 because its fans were so out of control, with racist insults at players among the many reasons. One club is playing in an empty stadium in the Champions League as a result of racism, as well. To disband the very committee ostensibly formed to address these types of issues on a global scale — all while handing out an inaugural award highlighting your own efforts in diversity — is laughable. And no one is buying it.
Statement regarding FIFA's decision to disband its Anti-Racism Task Force. pic.twitter.com/sFb4xLKP7v
— Ali Al Hussein (@AliBinAlHussein) September 26, 2016
“Never has the need to combat racism and racial discrimination been more evident than it is in the world we live in today … it is not something that any governing body with any semblance of responsibility can downplay or deny,” Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, who has run for president of FIFA twice, said of the matter. He also called the decision “shameful.”
Even people on the committee were surprised. “I wish I could say that I am shocked by the decision, but unfortunately I am not,” Osasu Obayiuwana, a task force member said to The Associated Press. “The problem of racism in football remains a burning, very serious and topical one, which needs continuous attention.”
Just when you thought they were making headway by trying to get rid of the bad apples who created the corruptness within the system in which they work, this crops up, reminding all footy fans across the globe that it’s going to take a lot more than just levying fines and trying to throw a couple of people in jail to untangle the web of foolishness that FIFA has created.
Daily Dose: 9/26/16
The big night is finally here
1:40 PMOn Friday, I had the pleasure of going to The White House for the first time in my life. As it turned out, it was quite the day to be there, between the band and the guest list. What a weekend it was.
Monday night’s the night. We’ll finally get to see Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump face off in a debate, and it promises to be wild. They’ll be at Hofstra University, sort of home turf for both candidates, who’ve spent quite a bit of time in New York, obviously. Personally, I think this could be a royal disaster for Trump, who doesn’t necessarily do well with facts and respectful exchanges of ideas. NBC’s Lester Holt will moderate. Here are five things to watch for Monday at 9 p.m.
Speaking of presidents, there’s still the one in office. For all of the criticism President Barack Obama has received, there are certain things that he has actually accomplished, aside from just reelection and being the coolest resident of the White House, ever. As it turns out, he’s been decently effective at ending one of this country’s largest and most difficult problems: income inequality. FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman explains.
When Jon Stewart left The Daily Show, it left a huge hole in the late-night television world. Comedy Central took the opportunity to hire a comedian of color, specifically South African Trevor Noah. He was never going to fill Stewart’s shoes in a day, a month, or even a year, but the way the program has evolved is interesting. Of course, Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show was canceled, but Noah’s bringing all the blackness. VICE profiled the late-night star.
Paul Pierce is going to play one more season in the NBA. Here’s the thing about Pierce: Ever since he got into the NBA, he was a confident player who knew what he could do. It took him a while to really get the respect he deserved among fans, but when people realized, it was on. It’s tough to see him announce his retirement tour, because he’s not a guy who’s going to be getting a ton of minutes, anyway. It’ll be his 19th season and his last.
Coffee Break: No. 1, I had no idea that Pharrell was married. No. 2, I had no clue that he had children. No. 3, I have also learned that his kid’s name is Rocket, which is perfectly tremendous. Now, the family is expecting a new addition. Please get them a reality show.
Snack Time: Police in Danville, Virginia, are getting rather brazen with how they choose to do their jobs. Check out these photos of squad cars putting their hoods up to block dashcams.
Dessert: If you’ve got $300,000 lying around, you might want to bid on this insane vinyl collection.
President Obama invites the stars to toast museum opening
Tennessee State University’s band performed on the South Lawn to kick off the event
12:00 PMBy the time President Barack Obama took to the podium Friday, the White House floor had been studded with more black stars than ever. Samuel L. Jackson had accidentally photobombed a convo between Kobe Bryant and Rep. John Lewis. Dick Gregory had made his rounds, along with Harry Belafonte. Oprah and Gayle King had graced the room, and Phylicia Rashad had displayed her regal presence. Bob Johnson had done a little glad-handing and Fonzworth Bentley proved why he still is one of the best dressed men in America with his cream jacket-eggplant tie combo. David Adjaye had fielded quite a few compliments for his design work and Jesse Jackson had been moving around so much that he had to take respite on a baby stroller for a bit.
“This is easily the blackest I’ve ever seen this place,” DeRay McKesson joked, in town for a bit before heading to Charlotte, North Carolina. “I love it.”
The afternoon reception at the White House to commemorate the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall was a celebration of blackness that’s rarely been inside the walls of the presidential edifice built by slaves. So much so that the Obamas invited Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands to play on the lawn to kick things off.
Tennessee State is no stranger to big stages. But I doubt we’ll ever see an HBCU’s band transition from Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together to Chance The Rapper’s No Problem and on into Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice just a half-hour or so after a White House press briefing ended across the way.
— Tennessee State Univ (@TSUedu) September 23, 2016
Tennessee State University's band rocking at the White House pic.twitter.com/x0L0a4W7ga
— Fungo Velo (@clintonyates) September 23, 2016
The day before, Obama and the first lady sat down with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts after touring the new museum ahead of its opening. On Friday at the White House, he talked about how important the facility was, as a landmark and a storytelling tool. He noted the team effort it was to get this put together over the years. But while all that black excellence occupied that room, the volatile situations unfolding across the country were not forgotten.
“The timing of this is fascinating,” Obama said. “Because in so many ways, it is the best of times. But in many ways, these are also troubled times. History doesn’t always move in a straight line. And without vigilance, we can go backwards as well as forward. And so part of the reason that I’m so happy the museum is opening this weekend is because it allows all of us as Americans to put our current circumstances in a historical context.”
Earlier this week, the officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher was charged with first-degree manslaughter. On Friday, a video shot by the wife of Keith Lamont Scott was released, unfurling a host of new questions. The president said he hopes the museum can help people in a tangible way.
“My hope is that, as people are seeing what’s happened in Tulsa or Charlotte on television, and perhaps are less
familiar with not only the history of the African-American experience, but also how recent some of these challenges have been, upon visiting the museum, may step back and say, ‘I understand. I sympathize. I empathize,’ ” Obama said. “I can see why folks might feel angry and I want to be part of the solution as opposed to resisting change …
“When I imagine children — white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American — wandering through that museum and sitting at that lunch counter and imagining what it would be like to stand on that auction block, and then also looking at Shaq’s shoes and Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac, my hope is that this complicated, difficult, sometimes harrowing, but I believe ultimately triumphant story will help us talk to each other, and more important, listen to each other, and even more important, see each other and recognize the common humanity that makes America what it is.”
Video released of Keith Lamont Scott shooting
The 43-year-old victim’s wife captured it on her cellphone
3:24 PMIn the wake of the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday — and the way the city erupted as a result — Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts called for video footage of the killing to be released. “I do believe the video should be released,” Roberts said at a news conference Friday morning. “The question is on the timing.”
That time came later Friday, when NBC News released an exclusive video of Scott’s final moments. Unlike the footage released earlier this week in the case of the police shooting of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this one did not come from a Dashcam or police helicopter.
The video was taken by Scott’s wife, Rakeiya Scott, on her cellphone, as she watched her husband be killed.
WARNING: This video contains graphic content and may be upsetting to some viewers.
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Rakeiya Scott’s video does not show an actual view of Scott being killed. In it, however, you can hear her both pleading to her husband to comply with law enforcement and begging the police not to harm him. “He has a T.B.I.,” she says, an abbreviation for “traumatic brain injury.” Then, you hear four gunshots ring and her angrily scream, “Did you shoot him! Did you shoot him! Did you shoot him! He better not be f—— dead! He better not be f—— dead! … He better be alive!”
I just saw the video. They chose to kill him. #KeithLamontScott should be alive today. This ain't right.
— deray (@deray) September 23, 2016
Remember, this video alone is certainly not enough to secure a conviction in the death of Scott. As Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney noted at Friday’s news conference, video evidence does not establish probable cause.
And while we wait for official police footage of Scott’s killing to be released, it’s not surprising that the first video came from the cellphone of Scott’s wife. We’ve seen it before. Because at the sight of police, people take out their mobile devices and begin to document, fearing the worst that could happen. What does that tell you about the current state of community-police relations in this country?
Daily Dose: 9/23/16
Denzel Washington has a new movie out
2:00 PMI’m heading to the White House to cover something this afternoon. I was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and have never set foot on the grounds even once. I am rather nervous, to say the least.
We’re at the point where the president needs to address the nation again. With our first presidential debate in the backdrop coming Monday, the situations in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina, mean that President Barack Obama needs to speak. This week, he visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opens Saturday. There, he talked to Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts about a wide range of things, including Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s chances at the Oval Office and our country’s legacy of lawful segregation. Check out the interview here.
Speaking of brutality, if you haven’t seen the video of a girl being pepper-sprayed by police, you need to. The situation unfolded in Hagerstown, Maryland, where police decided that a 15-year-old girl who hit a car with her bike needed to be subdued, pepper-sprayed and arrested. I don’t know what’s going on in Hagerstown, but apparently the teens are real menaces, tearing up the town and upsetting apple carts. In all seriousness, this situation is absurd. The girl, who was charged with assault and disorderly conduct, is now speaking out.
My dad sees every single Denzel Washington movie ever made. He goes to the theater, often by himself, buys a ticket and watches the movie. It doesn’t matter how good, bad or ugly it looks, he’s a devoted fan. So, since there’s a new movie out with him in it, you can bet my dad will be in the theater. At this point, Pops talks about nearly everything in a “something a Denzel character once did” context. Anyway, Washington’s range is strong, but specific. FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey analyzes the four types of Denzel movies.
Steve Clevenger is not a fan of Black Lives Matter. Not familiar with that name? Well, he’s a backup catcher for the Seattle Mariners who grew up “in the streets of Baltimore,” as he puts it. He also decided that Thursday night would be a good time to get on Twitter and mock the protestors in Charlotte, who are upset about the death of Keith Lamont Scott. He threw in the old “lock ’em up in a cage” take just for good measure, and now he’s suspended for the rest of the season. Can’t imagine a 30-year-old journeyman like him has much place in the bigs at this point.
Coffee Break: There are some headlines that are just too good to be true. “Jaden Smith Shared the Gospel of Boxed Water on an Eco-Friendly Field Trip. His dad, Will Smith, played chaperone” is definitely one of them. I can’t even imagine what being around that family is like, on so many levels. This little excursion sounds like it was incredible.
Snack Time: Around these parts, we love Nicole Byer. I first became a fan of her work on Girl Code, but now she’s got her own show and is flourishing. Check out this profile of the MTV star.
Dessert: This, friends, is why editorial cartoons exist.
Let’s talk about The Weeknd
He cut his hair, his new song is fire and we ain’t ready
5:35 PMAbęl Makkonen Tesfaye has a new song out and it’s fire. His new album Starboy comes out Nov. 25, but more importantly, he cut his hair. The look fell somewhere between signature and iconic on the importance scale and for him to abandon it at the peak of his powers is nothing short of a bold move.
i come alive in the fall time pic.twitter.com/NHeVl3Q7Nn
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) September 21, 2016
In the past five years, The Weeknd has gone from a mixtape mystery man to an instantly recognizable international superstar. His dreads were so visually specific to him that even if you only saw a silhouette, you’d know it was him. Now, it’s gone and he’s showing himself off to the world. He also apparently wiped his Instagram, which could mean any number of things, but we’re going to just wildly speculate that he’s trying to put something in his life behind him.
can i skip class in honor of missing the Weeknd's old hair style even though he still looks great af
— Hayley Williams (@HayleyWi11iams) September 21, 2016
The larger question here is: Does he lose some star power overall from this move? Like it or not — because of not only the politics of black hair, but also because it was so different from anyone we typically see in the limelight — his music speaks for itself, and paired with the look, he was a bona fide rock star.
He hinted at this change recently in VMAN magazine, when he did an entire photo shoot with a hoody on. In the interview, he talked about his motivations on the new album. If we’re guessing, after his rather high-profile relationship with Bella Hadid went south, he needed a reset. If his song Starboy is any indication of where his head is, maybe he just wanted to be able to walk down the street without people bothering him, again. A hairstyle that the world can identify from a mile away doesn’t exactly allow for that.
We’ll miss the hair, but we’ll also gladly take another fire album.
Daily Dose: 9/22/16
Charlotte may go into lockdown tonight
1:20 PMI participated in the National Press Club’s Press vs. Politicians Spelling Bee on Wednesday night. The rules were, if you get two wrong, you’re out. Last year, I got third place. This year, I had a tad more fun with it.
Things aren’t getting any better in Charlotte. Protests on Wednesday night turned violent and there are all sorts of questions about what’s going to happen next in North Carolina. There’s talk of the National Guard, but police say they don’t plan to release video of the shooting of Keith Scott. Alas, buildings were looted, fires were set, and a protester was shot with a rubber bullet. Now, the mayor is considering implementing a curfew for the city. ABC News reports on the latest.
Willie Cauley-Stein is down for his squad. The Sacramento Kings center who went to Kentucky is from a small town in Kansas. He grew up with his grandparents and cousins, so he grew accustomed to having people around. But by the time he got to high school, his whole life changed. In order to pursue his dreams of being a basketball player, he had to leave everything behind. Now, as the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, he’s making an impact on the league. VICE Sports went behind the scenes with Cauley-Stein on his life and journey.
We can all agree that health insurance is a good thing, right? Paying out of pocket for medical expenses is a very easy way to go straight to the poor house for lack of a better term, so being insured is critical. Of course, the battle to get a health care system installed in the country was an epic one, with people on both sides of the aisle embarrassing themselves politically. More importantly, however, is the simple fact that it’s worked. FiveThirtyEight’s Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Ben Casselman report that more people have insurance now.
Richard Sherman is not here for your games. On Wednesday, instead of taking questions about the Seattle Seahawks’ next game against the San Francisco 49ers, he talked at length about the fact that many people are losing sight of what the actual problems are in America by focusing too much on what 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick or any other player is or isn’t doing during the national anthem. Sherman, obviously a man who has no problem speaking his mind, then just left after his statement. ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia reports.
Coffee Break: After the disaster that was the situation in Brazil regarding the Olympics, one city has decided, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Rome pulled out of the race for the 2024 Summer Games and the major even went so far as to call his city’s bid for the Olympiad “irresponsible.” Alrighty, then.
Snack Time: We all know Between Two Ferns, the show with Zach Galifianakis acting awkward around famous people. This time, he had Democratic presidential Hillary Clinton on and it was rather
Dessert: There’s new Kaytranada out and it’s right on time for this hectic week.
Colin Kaepernick covers ‘TIME’ magazine
His protest is officially a national discussion point
Say what you want about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s method of protest, it’s certainly been effective. He’s got kids as young as middle schoolers taking knees during the national anthem. He’s pledged to give $100,000 a month to community charities and has gotten people such as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman to walk out of news conferences due to frustration with how black people are treated by police. Retired NFL running back Marshawn Lynch made his point on national television, too.
Now, Kaepernick is on the cover of the October issue of TIME magazine. My man is all the way out here. While Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is making statements in Wingdings on Instagram, as people are getting killed in his very city, Kaepernick is openly discussing the concept dying for the cause and his preparation for said potential. Per his own words, he’s ready to die.
“To me, if something like that were to happen, you’ve proved my point and it’ll be loud and clear to everyone why it happened. And that would move this movement forward at a greater speed than what it is even now,” he said. Now, we’re waiting to see what the NBA is going to do once its season starts. It’s a real concern for league commissioner Adam Silver.
Kaepernick has shaken up the NFL with his protest. He’s made the act of just wearing his jersey an act of defiance. He’s used the biggest tool the league has — the shield — and made it a symbol of demonstration. Teenagers are getting sent home from work, just for wearing his jersey. He’s weaponized his work outfit for good. The impact of this man’s actions are in no way misguided or unheard of at this point. People are still getting killed, people are still fed up, and he’s still kneeling.
Without playing a down this season, he’s become the most impactful backup the league has ever seen.