What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

Biggie mural will not be torn down in Bed-Stuy

Art collective rallies enough support to save painting on Brooklyn apartment building

10:34 AMThe battle for the crown of King of New York in hip-hop is a succession battle as old as the genre itself. But only one person has ever held that title without question: The Notorious B.I.G. The rap legend and Brooklyn, New York, native’s importance to the borough cannot be overstated from a cultural standpoint, but with the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood being taken over by gentrification, the fate of a popular mural of the slain rapper was up in the air. Now, it will not be destroyed.

Thank you Brooklyn! And a very very special thanks to the landlords for recognizing the importance of Biggie in this neighborhood! First we would like to thank both the Mayor's and congressman Jeffries offices for reaching out and offering all kinds of support to keep this iconic mural where it is! We also would like to thank every single local organization for coming forward with their resources . We would like to thank all the companies for offering financial support. ATLANTA has got so much love for Biggie! Thank you TI @troubleman31 for having your team contact us on a daily basis to get the updates. Special thanks to Mr. Guevara from @brooklynnets for the daily phone calls to make sure we get all the needed resources. We would like to thank all of you who have stood besides us! PLEASE if you see the landlords, THANK them for this generous gift to our community!! ! Happy Belated Birthday, King!!! 🎂@tyanna810 @cjordanwallace @therealfaithevans #spreadloveitsthebrooklynway #spreadartnyc #bedfordandquincy #20bigyears #biggiemural #biggie #biggiesmalls

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The details of the situation felt like a violation at first glance because the owner wanted to renovate the apartment building and add new windows. His name is Samuel Berkowitz. So when the group Spread Art NYC put the word out that he wanted it down, reaction was intense. Add that to the fact that he then claimed neighbors were complaining about the crowd it attracted, and then turned down $5,000 to keep it up — countering with an offer of a $1,250 monthly charge — it was a gut punch.

Do we really live in a world where an art collective is coming up with rent money to keep its popular murals for local legends? That’s not a reality anyone wanted to face. So a lot of famous people, including elected officials and other artists, got involved. It’s not going anywhere in the short term. They persuaded the building owner by simply explaining who Biggie was.

Before that, though, all the headlines were similar. Something along the lines of “iconic mural threatened” typically populate the page, with the misleading assertion about the painting itself. It only went up in 2015. The two artists who did it are Scott “Zimer” Zimmerman and Naoufal “Rocko” Alaoui. It’s 2 years old, which is hardly iconic.

What’s iconic is the image itself, a photograph by Barron Claiborne. It was shot for Rap Pages magazine. Three days after that shoot in 1997, the artist, nee Christopher Wallace, was shot and killed. It appeared on the cover and for the two decades since has been bastardized. While the painting added to the original image, the facial expression, the pose, the crown (which has been changed) were all already burned into the brains of most hip-hop fans.

Photo by Barron Claiborne

Photo by Barron Claiborne

Complicating matters even more was that an online petition going around titled #LandmarkBIG was actually causing a rift between factions looking to save the wall. A representative for Claiborne said they get requests to use the likeness of the image almost monthly, so they can’t recall whether this was an authorized usage or not.

The removal of the image would have been unfortunate and sad, but hardly a travesty. If you want a full history of the image and the immediate aftermath of what it meant to Brooklyn at the time, the story is interesting. The story of when the portrait was made, why it was shot and how it spread an image of personality from that shoot is what the essence of B.I.G. was. Besides, that photo isn’t even the best one from the contact sheet.

The Lupita/Rihanna buddy movie might be real

and we can barely contain our excitement

5:16 PMNever underestimate the power of a solid meme.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the not-so-wacky idea of Lupita Nyong’o and Rihanna starring in a buddy movie where they pull scams on old white guys is actually somewhat closer to happening. Black Twitter is the best. If this movie happens, you can expect crazy numbers.

More selfishly, there’s something particularly satisfying about watching the development of this scenario. So often material that is created by young black people on social media gets co-opted or appropriated for some other function, with the original creators getting boxed out from a credit and monetary compensation standpoint.

But even if this incredible all-star conglomeration puts this out, there is one person who absolutely must be involved for this to work.

Can’t. Wait.

NBA social media, we need to talk

because that Dave Chappelle tweet wasn’t funny at all

3:51 PM

Let’s be clear: This ain’t funny.

In this world of internet jokes, intentional misdirections and obvious sight or word gags are nothing new, but sometimes you can miss badly if either the intent doesn’t seem genuine or the result doesn’t land well enough to warrant the risk. In this case, it was some level of both.

There is no world in which Dave Chappelle isn’t a gazillion times more famous, recognizable, funny and important than Amy Schumer. Not one. So, if you’re going to make this joke, it goes as follows: Dave Chappelle and a fan. To make things even more annoying, Chappelle actually lives in Ohio, so this is so easy. Not to mention he is frequently at NBA games, often on the sidelines getting photographed.

This violation is a flagrant 2.

Daily Dose: 5/22/17

Sasheer Zamata exits ‘SNL’ with zero fanfare

12:56 PMIf you missed The Morning Roast on Sunday, Mina Kimes was back from Korea, and we talked about the NBA and where we are in the playoffs at this point. Also, some more French lessons from your boy.

Here’s a new segment we call: This Week in Racist Nonsense and Terror. We’ll start in Maryland, where a white supremacist decided to randomly kill a black man and we’ve still got to act like there’s some sort of question as to whether this was a hate crime. Moving to Louisiana, a state representative said that lawmakers should be lynched for taking down Confederate monuments in New Orleans. There’s also this woman in Virginia. And, oh, yeah, in case you forgot, the Nazis were highly inspired by the U.S. system of racial oppression.

Saturday Night Live‘s season finale was awkward. In it, Dwyane Johnson was the host and Katy Perry decided she was going to really embarrass herself during her performance of “Bon Appetit” with Migos. For whatever reason, she feels the need to try to act black instead of just being herself. It’s extremely hard to watch, in fact. But, also, Sasheer Zamata is leaving the show, although you never would have known that from the sketches Saturday night. These so-called diversity problems at SNL are more like “we just don’t really want outsiders.”

There are zoos and then there are game reserves. There are also animal parks in certain parts of the world where, when you get to see them, you get a completely different perspective on just how cruel big-game hunting is. Most animals, obviously, are just trying to live out their short lives like everyone else, and idiots with superiority complexes and greedy pockets trying to ruin them really are the worst. So, when a hunter gets crushed to death by an elephant, it’s hard to feel bad on any level.

If you didn’t think the Las Vegas Raiders games were going to be nuts, think again. No. 1, it’s the Raiders. They have one of the craziest fan bases in the NFL, the type of people who would probably find a way to make the trip from the Bay Area for eight weeks a year just so they could dress up in all their black-and-silver glory. But now, the Vegas factor comes into play. You will now be allowed to legally place wagers from inside the stadium on your phone during games. Aka, mobile betting on exactly what you’re watching in front of you. What a world.

Free Food

Coffee Break: At the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night, Diddy took the stage to commemorate what would have been the Notorious B.I.G.’s birthday and also bring his son out to introduce him to the world. He also debuted the trailer for a new documentary he’s got coming out about Bad Boy Records. It looks incredible.

Snack Time: The homey Snoop Dogg is still making music, which makes me extremely happy in general. His new album is chock-full of awesome guests, so you should check it out. You can stream it here.

Dessert: The latest season of The Pengest Munch has closed. Eat lunch first, because you’ll be hungry after.

Daily Dose: 5/19/17

Basquiat is still selling and breaking records

1:18 PMThis has been one of the longest weeks in Washington I can think of in a really long time. Here’s hoping that we make it through the weekend with our democracy intact.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more precarious at the White House, the president takes off on a foreign trip. Obviously, people are a bit worried about how this might go, considering President Donald Trump’s proclivities for bluster and hyperbole, which may play well here with his base, but are a different matter overseas. He’s representing not only himself but also the nation. A misspeak or errant tweet is not going to fly with a foreign audience when you’re on their turf. Let’s hope his aides are armed with what they need to make this go smoothly.

I love dogs as much as the next person, but let’s be clear — they are not human. So when it comes to lives being taken unfairly, I’m pretty much always going to consider those of actual people more important than those of pets. But if you want to get an idea of where we are in America, a woman just walked free for killing a black man while in the line of duty in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, a guy who shot and didn’t even kill a police dog gets 19 years in prison. That is seriously messed up.

Jean-Michel Basquiat is a legend in the game. The street artist turned megastar died in 1988, but his influence on how galleries and subculture began to meld together to create a mainstream genre is still felt today. His work still sells, in some cases for amounts so astronomical that it makes you sad he’s not around to enjoy that money. But his latest is really off the charts. One of his works just sold for $110.5 million, making it only the 11th piece ever to break the $100M mark. I can’t even remotely contemplate paying that much for something.

Under Armour just scored a big league deal. The athletic apparel company will be supplying uniforms to Major League Baseball in 2019, taking over for Majestic and Nike. It feels like those two have been there forever; it’s 1982 for the former, to be exact. It’s a massive score for the Baltimore-based Under Armour, which has been growing consistently since it started in 1996. Now it’s one of the big boys for sure. I do wonder if it’ll do anything drastic to the usually staid, traditional style of MLB, but I doubt it. Why mess with greatness?

Free Food

Coffee Break: As if you don’t have enough things to worry about when buying a house, you can now add “gigantic terrifying honeycomb” to that list. That’s what happened in Georgia, where a woman discovered she had more than 100,000 bees inside her house. That is terrifying.

Snack Time: In this business of show, creativity is required but not always easy to find. So don’t ask me how or why we need a movie about the life of Bubbles, Michael Jackson’s monkey.

Dessert: You know what is good news, though? Lin-Manuel Miranda being involved in a DuckTales reboot. YES.

The long-lost ‘T-Wayne’ is finally here

The T-Pain and Lil Wayne collaboration dates back to 2009

6:23 PMAll it took was eight years and a #TBT for T-Pain and Lil Wayne to give the people what they want.

On Wednesday, T-Pain randomly hopped on the ‘gram and posted a photo of an album cover featuring a split image of the Tallahassee “rappa ternt sanga” and New Orleans’ own Lil Wayne, with the caption “I’m feelin reeeeeaaaaalll spontaneous right now #2009#TheMissingPageInTheHistoryBook.”

Pain also tweeted the image with the two words “Do it?” and a follow-up tweet, saying, “This ain’t for y’all new n—as. These the lost files from ’09 and I’m tired of em just sittin on my hard drive. #FreeC5” — a nod to the long-awaited unreleased fifth installment of Wayne’s Tha Carter series.

Then, on Thursday, he did it. T-Pain just up and dropped the eight-track T-Wayne almost a decade after the project was set to release in 2009. If you remember, back then, Pain and Wayne were both at the peak of their reigns in the hip-hop and R&B games. If we’re being foreal, it was hard to find a track that Lil Wayne and T-Pain weren’t on. They were go-to artists, especially for features. So when they teamed up on the smooth 2008 hit “Can’t Believe It,” it was an absolute swish. And when they went on the road together on the I Am Music Tour from December 2008 to April 2009, tickets were a must-cop. (I still have a “T-Wayne” T-shirt from that tour, btw.)

Eventually, though, T-Pain’s career began to fall off after Jay Z essentially ended it himself with his 2009 track “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)” — a lyrical shot at the audio technique Pain popularized on his songs. Meanwhile, Lil Wayne went to jail, and his time behind bars forever changed him musically.

That left us without the anticipated collab project, save the banger “Damn, Damn,” which dropped in 2010 before Wayne began his sentence. So Thursday was truly a delightful surprise. We aren’t blaming Pain and Wayne for taking so long since, you know, life happens. And, to be honest, a lot of people probably forgot that T-Wayne was actually a thing.

But, we are always here for the spontaneous drop — even if it takes years.

Maybe, for #TBT next week, Dr. Dre will bless us with Detox. Or, we’ll get the Tha Carter 5. Fingers crossed.

Police Shootings

Tulsa officer acquitted in shooting death of unarmed black man

Betty Shelby beats charges for killing Terence Crutcher in 2016

6:15 PMAnother day, another police officer walks free after killing an unarmed black person.

You might remember the case of Terence Crutcher. Last year in Tulsa, he was killed by Officer Betty Shelby after a situation that unfolded outside of his car that was caught by police dash cameras as well as helicopter footage. It shows Crutcher, walking toward his car with police trailing him, guns pointed. Then, Crutcher’s arms come down and shots ring out, leaving him to lie there and die on the side of the road in Oklahoma. She was acquitted on Wednesday.

Where to begin. We’ll start with the trail, as the video shows you the details of the interaction. From there, let’s fast-forward to Shelby’s testimony, in which she states very plainly what the specific threat of police privilege and white supremacy means. Her fear was more important than her victim’s life. Beyond that admission, which was honest, she made an even more important statement about why, following her fear, she chose to shoot: That’s police policy.

“She articulated all of the reasons why she believed he was armed and why she took the action that she did that was in accordance with her training. In times of heavy stress and fear and uncomfortability, we revert to our training, and that’s what you want an officer to do. And you want them to handle situations the way they’re trained to handle them,” Jerad Lindsey, chairman of the Tulsa FOP, said earlier this week about Shelby’s testimony. “It takes tenths of seconds for someone to already make the mental decision to pull a weapon and shoot you.”

https://twitter.com/kianarenai/status/865044175934418944

The last sentence is the most important. What it basically says is the very same logic that police use to justify their decision-making in firing rounds is exactly what’s used against you when you haven’t even done anything. You can talk about the inherent danger of police work and what it takes to protect a community, but the problem with the “blue lives matter” logic is two-fold. One, no one is born a police officer. Secondarily, because it is a job, there are certain risks that simply have to be a part of the accountability scale in order for the entire system to work, if you’re even going to consider fairness a part of the equation. If every encounter is going to be considered life or death, then the logic should apply both ways. Meaning, Crutcher might have thought they were going to try to kill him, too. Otherwise, what you’re openly admitting is: This isn’t fair and doesn’t have to be.

By leaving the judgment to human nature and throwing one’s hands up after that, you’re completely eliminating acknowledgment of the most obvious of factors here: race. Inherent bias, never mind outright racist attitudes and methods, are well-studied and documented components of law enforcement, but they are clearly the defining factor in many cases. To be noted, the window was up.

This man’s blackness obviously made her feel like he was more likely to kill her or her colleagues. And if you don’t believe that’s real, just listen to the officers on the audio of the footage of the shooting. “Time for Taser, I think,” one officer says in the lead-up to the gunshots. “That looks like a bad dude, too. Could be on something.” Seconds later, Crutcher is on the ground, his white T-shirt soaked in his blood.

The autopsy revealed that Crutcher did have PCP in his system. That in itself is not a reason for someone to die, of course. Not to mention that the casual observation of a random black man being a “bad dude” is a clear indicator about the kind of snap judgments people make based on appearance that have zero grounding in fact. Crutcher had previously served time for dealing cocaine and, according to his sister, had a drug problem as a user. Again, none of that should equal a death sentence, but even if you think so, how they figured all that out in those few minutes is beyond me.

Not to mention something else, perhaps the most critical element to the backdrop of everything. This is Tulsa. Not just the Tulsa where white residents burned down as many black businesses and neighborhoods as they could in the 1920s during a riot. (They’re making a movie about it.) It’s the same Tulsa where, in 2015, a guy working law enforcement literally for fun, who was a friend of the sheriff’s, shot and killed a guy because he mistook his handgun for his Taser. We’re not talking about ancient history. Never mind the fact that the guy is still bitter, saying that he’s mad he ever decided to give back to the community — not that, you know, he actually took someone’s life.

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Mind you, the fallout from that was a reform program for that whole operation, but that’s not going to matter to Crutcher’s family. The point here is that the violence that takes the lives of so many unarmed black people isn’t just accidental or incidental, it’s state-sponsored.

The brothas have arrived on ‘The Bachelorette’

Rachel Lindsay’s season is about to be lit; here’s a breakdown of the contestants

12:48 PMShoutout to Amy Kaufman for thread-tweeting the contestants of the newest season of The Bachelorette, starring office fave Rachel Lindsay. Honestly, I’m shocked they found this many black people to sign up for this show. I always assumed they just couldn’t find any, since The Bachelor/Bachelorette is really white people-ish. But no more! As an avid consumer of trash TV, I have some thoughts. Here are my genuine reactions as I scrolled down the incredibly diverse but to-be-honest-not-as-sexy-as-I-was-hoping list.

Adam, 27, is a freak, and I’m a lil freaked out by it.

Alex, 28, says his favorite artist is The Rock. OK, I guess. Great hair, though.

Anthony, 26. Not a fan of bald guys. The scalp doesn’t do it for me. This take gets mixed reactions from the people in the office, but I don’t care.

Blake E, 31, isn’t making it past the first rose ceremony. Speaking of rose ceremonies, I honestly thought they got like, cuff links or something. But Clinton tells me that they definitely get roses. Yay for gender neutrality!

Blake K., 29, looks like office cutie Justin McCraw. Not even kidding. Which means Blake will also be the office fav and we’re all rooting for him.

Brady, 29. Meh. Second white guy I’ve seen with this haircut so far. Something tells me I’ll be seeing more.

Bryan, 37, is also a freak! Gotta love a man who knows what he wants.

Bryce, 30. A firefighter. Crimson Chin. I used to date a firefighter. He was crazy, though. I’m hoping Bryce isn’t also crazy, but Clinton says being crazy is a prerequisite for the job.

Dean, 26, is woke bae, but he’s not cute enough to make it past the first rose ceremony.

DeMario, 30. Another black guy! With a black name! And he wants a lion named Denzel, which is super black! And he made a Britney Spears joke! (fun fact: I’m a B. Spears stan.) Love this guy already.

Diggy, 31. He looks like he’s a senior inventory analyst, which isn’t a bad thing. 😏

Eric, 29. Already I think this is the most black guys I’ve ever seen on this show, and I’m not even done yet.

Fred, 27. Hello there, Carlton Banks. Goodbye, Carlton Banks. Next.

Grant, 29. Dorky cute, and he’s a doctor! Something tells me Rachel is gonna like him.

Iggy, 30. Little bit of a weirdo judging from his bio, but maybe he can get a cool thing going with Diggy. Wonder if they did that on purpose.

Jack, 32. Can’t put my finger on it, but something’s off about this guy. It’s in the eyes.

Jamey, 32. Looks just like last year’s runner-up Robby Hayes. Probably won’t go very far.

Jedidiah, 35. Most likely a preacher’s kid. Also probably my soulmate because I, too, am a bit of a pen snob. Wish you were cuter, Jed!

Jonathan, 31. “Tickle Monster”?! Why would you tell people that! Definitely serial killer. But I’m torn, because he’s also a Britney fan. I’d be one of his victims. Go over to his house to have a Britney Spears listening party, and then he tickles me to death.

Josiah, 28. Wonder who he had sex with…

Kenny, 35, is a pro wrestler who says he and Dwayne Johnson are “very much alike.” Gotta disagree there, buddy, but I smell a bromance with Alex happening.

Kyle, 26, is a very specific kind of person I intensely dislike. But he’s cute, so Rachel might keep him around even though he won’t stop talking about gluten.

Lee, 30. If this were speed dating, it’d be a hard pass for me.

Lucas, 30, is a man who doesn’t know what he wants because those cartoon characters bear ZERO similarities to one another. Also stop fantasizing about cartoons, Lucas. (I’m a hypocrite, though, because Aladdin is bae.)

Matt, 32. Finally found the answer to my question regarding how and why Train is so popular.

Michael, 26, wasn’t good enough for the NBA, so he’s automatically on the wacker side of the black guys this season.

Milton, 31. Wack. Just wack.

Mohit, 26. My first reaction: There’s an Indian guy?! But I’d like to amend that to “South Asian,” because I really don’t know. But I’m excited! He looks way older than 26, though. Not that that’s a bad thing. …

Peter, 31, knows nothing about football and so is automatically a loser in my eyes. On this show and in life.

Rob, 30. Justin Timberlake also had blond highlights and diamond studs, so I can’t judge. Everybody glows up.

Will, 28. I don’t think he knows what show he signed up for.

I’ll be live- tweeting @yerraaa every Monday. Can’t wait for this reality show so I can ignore real real life! The season premiere of The Bachelorette airs Monday May 22 on ABC.

Daily Dose: 5/18/17

LaVar Ball ups his ante

12:17 PMThe new cast bios for this season of The Bachelorette are out, and boy are they funny. You might recall that Rachel Lindsay is the first black woman to take this role on the show. The season is going to be nothing short of epic.

Here’s the thing about witch hunts — witches aren’t real. So if you’re going to invoke the notion that one is going on, you’re implying that the entire premise of the query is phony. Meaning for President Trump to call the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his ties to Russia “the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history,” what he’s saying is that he’s actually a teenage girl whose sexuality scares off the men who run the village. OH, WAIT. What a week in Washington.

Girl Scout cookies are delicious. This is not up for debate. But how that product gets delivered to the streets is another matter. Some people harangue their colleagues on behalf of their children; some people push their cookies at work, church or school, and some girls are just plain smarter than everyone else. Like the girl who set up camp outside of a marijuana dispensary in Oregon. Brilliant. But this case of a woman who stole $15K worth of cookies is just really bizarre.

If you’re not careful, people will pull the okey doke on you. Like when they tell you that you can’t do something on the air because “we’ve never done that before.” Or, like when they tell you that man rompers shouldn’t be a thing. Or, like when they say that “diverse” casts don’t sell, therefore making all-white casts their only option when it comes to putting people together for films. Turns out that’s just a big lie, and from a business standpoint there’s no justification for that.

LaVar Ball is pressing his luck. Of course, all of this is likely just bluster, but after his dustup on FS1 yesterday, he’s now saying he wants $3 billion — with a “B” — for his shoe company. You know, 1 billion for each B. As in, a billion for each child of his. As in, his claims are reaching Trumpian levels, but hey, this is the America we live in today. He’s way wrong in his claims that there is no need to market to women. Maybe what LaVar doesn’t know is moms buy shoes for their kids.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Well, how about that. Instead of putting all those Confederate statues into storage units like they said they would, the city of New Orleans is just storing them outside, next to regular bulk trash. Man, what a bummer.

Snack Time: There’s a kid named Rayana Bounida who’s a monster in these youth soccer streets. And here’s a video of him wrecking kids all over the place. But most importantly, at the 14-second mark is him hittin’ them folks. Yes.

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Dessert: New Run The Jewels with Big Boi and Dangermouse? You got it.