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

Blackness, depression and masculinity

Kid Cudi faces his demons in a brutally honest Facebook post

1:00 PMhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca3hhFfFH-k

“I am happy, that’s just the saddest lie.”

That’s the closing lyric on the last verse of Kid Cudi’s Soundtrack 2 My Life, a not-so-deep cut on his debut studio album Man on the Moon: The End of Day, released in 2009. Coming off the fame of Day ‘n’ Nite, an introspective jam that caught fire, Soundtrack 2 My Life was a far more explicit look at the inner workings of a man whose mind has been dealing with mental health issues for most of his life.

So, when the rapper née Scott Mescudi took to Facebook to write an impassioned note to fans about his battles with depression and suicidal thoughts, which sparked the hashtag #YouGoodMan, I was not surprised. Partially because the last few weeks, he’d gone on a couple destructive rants and was seemingly losing grip. But mainly it was because of those aforementioned lyrics. I know, because they spoke to me then, and they still do.

As someone who’s battled social anxiety disorder, depression and the not infrequent suicidal tendency, the thought of shutting everything down and admitting to the world that you don’t know how to make yourself happy is an incredibly daunting task. As black boys, we are raised to believe that only our inner fortitude is what will carry us through difficult periods, just like it did our forefathers when the system was intentionally rigged to break our spirit.

When you become what the world believes of you as to be a man, your entire psychological and physical preoccupation becomes about proving your worth to your peers. In short, there’s no time to be worrying about mental health unless you legit can’t function in society anymore. The thought of sharing your feelings with someone you’re paying to listen to you becomes embarrassing and frustrating. People tell you to “get help,” and it doesn’t work because you don’t want to feel “crazy.” You ruin relationships with people based on your own ability to believe that they recognize your self-worth. You dive into your job, hoping it serves as a distraction. You lash out at people, friends and family because you’re too afraid to face your own reality.

At times, it becomes difficult to understand why it’s worth even trying anymore.

This week is Mental Illness Awareness Week in the United States, established by Congress in 1990. Cudi, by speaking out on his own life, is advancing the cause of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which pushed for recognition of the week, and according to its website is “dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.”

For Cudi, it was the death of his father. For me, I never got over my parents divorce, as a child. For the millions of other black folks walking around out there with their own issues, it could be any number of things. It’s hard to admit that you’re damaged, broken or sick.

“I am not at peace. I haven’t been since you’ve known me. If I didn’t come here, I would’ve done something to myself,” Cudi wrote. “I simply am a damaged human, swimming in a pool of emotions everyday of my life. There’s a ragin’ violent storm inside of my heart at all times. Idk what peace feels like. Idk how to relax.”

If you can’t relate to that feeling, I guarantee you know someone who does.

Daily Dose: 10/4/16

‘Debate’ is so much more fun to say when you pronounce it ‘de-bah-tay’

3:00 PMRemember that panel I mentioned last week with Jesse Williams, Ibtihaj Muhammad and Kevin Merida? Well, if you didn’t catch it live, you can watch it here.

The ‘Thrilla in Vanilla’ might be the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. That’s what some people are calling Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate in Farmville, Virginia, between Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine. Why? Because both of these dudes are about as exciting as your neighbor’s dad, which is to say, not much. Considering how things went for Republican nominee Donald Trump after debate one against Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, this could be critical from a “just don’t make it worse” standpoint. ABC News has five storylines to watch for Tuesday from Longwood University.

Speaking of Trump, he’s got a real problem with women. For example, you can’t just publicly denounce people about their behavior because of a beauty pageant, then expect people to think you have their best interests in mind. Not to mention that referring to women as dogs and pigs is inappropriate on all kinds of levels. S0, when it comes to actually trying to court votes, no one is going to forget that stuff just because of party affiliation. FiveThirtyEight’s Farai Chideya breaks down the white suburban mom vote.

Nigel Sylvester is not a household name. As a professional BMX rider from Jamaica, Queens, New York, he’s an anomaly in a sport dominated typically by white guys. He also is unorthodox, in that he doesn’t do competitions or contests. But he’s an interesting guy who is of Grenadian descent. In a new installment of VICE‘s “Autobiographies,” Sylvester goes back to Queens to see the first skate park he ever tackled and his childhood home. This is worth the watch for the cityscape views, alone.

Perhaps the most famous bat flip in Major League Baseball history belongs to Jose Bautista. When Joey Bats uncorked a three-run blast in last year’s American League Divisional Series, he uncorked a celebration for the ages. It solidified his reputation as a relatively not well-liked guy, for whatever reason. And because of the so-called codes of the game, that rep has stuck for some time. But why? If he played in South Korea, he’d be idolized for his post-swing histrionics. There, if you ain’t flipping, you ain’t trying, ESPN The Magazine’s Mina Kimes explains.

Free Food

Coffee Break: One of the things that came out of President Barack Obama’s South by South Lawn event was a few celebrity sightings. For Common, who was on stage at the event as well, he got an impromptu Tiny Desk Concert out of it, too. Every thing about this video is pretty spectacular from set design to the music itself.

Snack Time: Speaking of Chicago rappers, Chance The Rapper can’t lose. Everything he touches turns out well, and you can add the new Kit Kat jingle to his recent list of accomplishments.

Dessert: R.I.P. Gloria Naylor. You should know her work. It’s a tremendous loss.

‘Race to Re-Unite’ panel with Jesse Williams and U.S. Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad

1:55 PMLast Thursday in New York City, actor Jesse Williams and U.S. Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad joined The Undefeated’s Kevin Merida on a panel called “Race to Re-Unite” in conjunction with Ad Week’s Town Hall series, #AWNewYork. Over the course of an hour, the three discussed the current state of activism in America as a movement, the intersection of demonstration and sports and discussed the complexities of untangling our concepts of normalcy when it comes to race, with moderator Clinton Yates.

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We’re talking to President Obama

The sit-down from Greensboro, North Carolina, is in a week

1:00 PMIt’s been a good couple weeks for President Barack Obama on the community outreach front. First, he held a star-studded affair at the White House to commemorate the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Then, he brought in many of the country’s latest minds for his South by South Lawn pop-up on Monday. Now, he’ll be sitting down to talk with ESPN’s Stan Verrett for The Undefeated’s A Conversation with The President: Sports, Race & Achievement on Oct. 11.

It airs at 10 p.m. EST (ESPN and WatchESPN) from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, which means it promises to be lit. Why? Because the Aggies have been in the news a lot recently, unfortunately due to completely separate reasons, both good and bad.

Over the weekend, two students were killed by gunfire after a fight broke out at an off-campus party. According to reports, Alisia Dieudonne, 19, and Ahmad Campbell, 21 were not part of the melee. Details of the altercation are very sad, with social media playing a large part in how an otherwise normal situation spiraled into a fatal encounter. In addition, the situation is so bad that the university held a town hall over the matter.

While the president is not necessarily expected to address matters of college-related gun violence, his mere presence will provide a spark to a campus that needs it. You might also recall that N.C. A&T board of trustees member Janice Bryant Howroyd was appointed by Obama to serve on his Board of Advisors on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) back in May. As you can see from the clip above, they ride hard for the president in Aggie land.

On a better note, the school has also been in the spotlight because of its star running back Tarik Cohen. He’s a senior with NFL aspirations, who keeps showing out every time he gets the chance. The team took down Kent State University in a surprise win over an FBS team last month. The week before Obama arrives, the Aggies take on Norfolk State University in a game televised live on ESPNU.

Perhaps most importantly, though, is that Greensboro is the home of one of the most significant protests in the history of the civil rights movement. The Greensboro sit-ins at Woolworth’s lunch counter started a wave of demonstrations that were focused on the economic impacts of segregation and used as a change agent for progress. At the site of that old lunch counter is the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. Also, police brutality issues are still as real there as anywhere else in America.

President Obama. The Undefeated. Greensboro. N.C. A&T. Enough said.

Trump hotel vandalized in Washington, D.C.

It was caught on video and Twitter is like …

5:20 PMIt’s one thing to disagree with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s political views, but it’s quite another to actively vandalize a building with his name on it in broad daylight, no less. Over the weekend, video surfaced of a person tagging the front of the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C., which is now a Trump Hotel. The end result was “No Justice, No Peace” written on the left side of the door and “Black Lives Matter” on the other. You can watch his work below.

There are a couple things about this worth noting. Most obviously is the brazen nature of the act. It’s certainly not the dead of night, and people are walking by, watching this guy go to town with a paint can. He finishes his work and then just casually crosses Pennsylvania Avenue to roll out. Just another Saturday for my man, I guess.

Reaction has been fascinating. The person who originally uploaded the photo, a Twitter user who goes by @AngryBlkManDC, was sent the video by someone, and his mentions were promptly set on fire with people implying that he should have done something to stop said act of vandalism.

Reached for comment afterward, @AngryBlkManDC explained, “Folks want me locked up. Calling me all kind of names. I don’t even respond. I was getting 20 mentions per minute. For like six straight hours.” The scrawls were cleaned up by the next day, but we’ll always have the video.

Daily Dose: 10/3/16

Master P was a mogul, but a horrible sports representative

1:00 PMOn Monday at the White House, President Barack Obama is holding South by South Lawn, a festival of sorts that mimics Austin, Texas’ similar function. I’ll be there, and you can check this space for updates on the proceedings.

Last week was a mess for Donald Trump. After the debate, the GOP presidential nominee completely fell apart and found himself in multiple quagmires, including and up to him appearing in a porn movie. But the other half of Trump’s ticket is on display tomorrow night in Farmville, Virginia. Mike Pence, the GOP vice presidential candidate, will likely be far less unhinged than his compatriot when he faces off against Tim Kaine. But Kaine will be on his home court, and Pence has a lot to lose. ABC News reports on how the former is preparing for Tuesday’s events.

Back when Master P was a relevant artist and music executive, he took a foray into sports. It was and felt super gimmicky at the time, but one player bought The Ice Cream Man‘s sports representation act. That person was Ricky Williams, the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas. He was a top 10 draft pick and signed this absurd deal that basically forced him to be the best producer on the field anyone had ever seen in order to be paid what he deserved. FiveThirtyEight’s Reuben Fischer-Baum analyzes the details of the worst deal in NFL history.

Life as a Kardashian isn’t easy. You’ve got endless personal appearances, weirdo stalkers and scores of paparazzi constantly trying to invade your space. It’s easy to claim that such a life isn’t that hard, but you try living a life where every time you leave your house someone is trying to take 20,000 pictures of you. Yes, is their popularity how they make money? Of course. But there are downsides to being such a public figure. VICE reports that Kim Kardashian West was robbed at gunpoint in a hotel room in Paris during fashion week.

The Dallas Cowboys got a win Sunday. They faced off against the San Francisco 49ers in a matchup that felt like it would have been way cooler 20 years ago. Alas, we’ve now got Dak Prescott vs. Blaine Gabbert instead of say, Troy Aikman vs. Steve Young. Anyway, internally Dallas is struggling. Wide receiver Dez Bryant didn’t play because of a hurt knee, an injury that owner Jerry Jones questioned slightly over the course of the week. Now, ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Bryant has a serious behavioral problem.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Every week it seems now, another person gets shot and killed by the police. They are often unarmed, and it occurs all over the country. The latest happened over the weekend in Los Angeles, where a kid was issued a death sentence over a stolen car.

Snack Time: I don’t like it when comedians fight. Sure, it may offer up good content for all involved, but sometimes it feels gratuitous. But, you have to feel for Dave Chappelle, who feels like Key & Peele stole his entire show concept.

Dessert: The homey Sonny Digital has a new EP out, and we like it a lot.

Daily Dose: 9/30/16

A week from being eligible to return to playing, Josh Gordon is entering rehab

2:00 PMIt’s the last day of September, which means Halloween is right around the corner. I already know who I’ll be dressing up as this year, and I’ll give you a hint. He’s the most famous backup quarterback in the NFL.

America’s most dangerous terrorist has been dead for five years. This is part of the headline of a story I couldn’t help but click on this morning. I thought I knew who the story was about, but I was wrong. Like many of you, I figured the article was about Osama bin Laden, who has, ironically, also been dead for five years. I know that because he was shot and killed during my senior year of high school, which at the time was a major victory for the Obama administration. “America’s most dangerous terrorist,” however, is not bin Laden, but American-born al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He was killed five years ago today, but his legacy has lived on as he’s inspired many terrorist attacks in the past few years. ABC News’ Lee Ferran reports.

One can only dream to get paid after retiring like Bobby Bonilla does. Every year, on July 1, the former New York Mets player’s name comes up for one reason and one reason only: Though he hasn’t played since 2001, he’s still getting paid — and I mean PAID — by his former team. In 1999, Bonilla signed a deferred contract with the Mets that will earn him a paycheck every year until 2035. This year, he made $1.19 million on July 1. So, how did Bonilla swing (no pun intended) this deal? FiveThirtyEight takes a look at the contract in the first installment of the new Contracts video series, while The Undefeated’s Ryan Cortes explains why Bonilla should be remembered for more.

Some people know more about fun than others. One of those people is Ben Fincham, a professor at the University of Sussex in England and the author of The Sociology of Fun. His job is literally to study and analyze the art of having fun, which is weird to think about, because “fun” is such a subjective concept. There’s no question, however, that some people seem to have more fun than others. When I was in college, the football team had a “Supervisor of Morale,” who I spent a day with for a story. VICE‘s Hannah Ewens spent a day with Fincham, the man she calls the “Professor of Fun.”

Josh Gordon has finally decided to seek help. Three years ago, the Cleveland Browns wide receiver caught 87 passes for 1,600-plus yards and nine touchdowns. For many people, Gordon was destined to be one of the NFL’s next great wideouts. But since that 2013 season, Gordon has proven to fit into the the classic, heartbreaking archetype of a player who has so much talent, but can’t seem to put it all together off the field. He only played five games in 2014 because of a DWI, missed the entire 2015 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and was also suspended for the first four games of this season. Gordon was eligible to return to the field next week, but announced Thursday that he’d be entering rehab. As much as we’d all like to see him suit up again, you have to commend him for confronting his problems and getting help. ESPN’s Pat McManamon has the story.

Free Food

Coffee Break: With the start of the NBA season less than a month away, it’s beginning to sink in that the Golden State Warriors, with the addition of Kevin Durant in the offseason, just might shape up to be the best shooting team of all time. Though it’s just practice footage, check out 75 seconds of Durant and Klay Thompson straight splashing jumpers.

Snack Time: Deshaun Watson vs. Lamar Jackson this weekend. Nuff said.

Dessert: Relationship Pettiness 101, taught by Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna.