Freddie Gray case
Justice system produces familiar results
3:59 PMThe saddest part of the whole situation is that Freddie Gray’s death was entirely avoidable, had he not been wrongly arrested. Instead, he was, and one “rough ride” later, he died. The officer who initially arrested Gray walked free Monday, a soberingly unsurprising result for the second of six officers who will be tried for his death.
Edward Nero was acquitted of all charges, 13 months after Gray died from a spinal cord injury he sustained in a police vehicle. His death sent Baltimore into a frenzy, with pockets of violence cropping up in the city’s most underserved but highly policed neighborhoods.
The situation was so tense that Major League Baseball moved a scheduled night game to the morning, then didn’t let fans in to watch, for fear of some type of spillover effect of violence. Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe the scene. I remember, because I was inside the ballpark.
On a larger level, we’ve seen this cycle of police violence, then no real accountability, so many times before that the collective conscious of people who consider themselves woke isn’t remotely surprised.
One can debate the specifics of the case, and the specific burdens of proof versus charges levied, until the cows come home, but the apparent reality has set in that the system is not broken. This is the system working. Some people, however, have to be on the victim end in order for the system’s full capabilities to be understood.
When Baltimore District Attorney Marilyn Mosby stood on those steps and promised justice would be served, it was a transcendant moment, even though many legal experts at the time said it was a bad idea to make such a public proclamation. The case was going to be difficult no matter what, but it felt like a win in the name of common decency.
Derrick Coleman, former Syracuse hoops standout and No. 1 overall pick of the 1990 NBA draft, responded on Twitter to Monday’s news of Nero’s acquittal.
— Derrick Coleman (@44TheLegend) May 23, 2016
no excuse for loss of life
— Derrick Coleman (@44TheLegend) May 23, 2016
Last year, Qadry Ismail, who played for the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV-winning team and is still a broadcaster with the team wrote this on Facebook:
“The way in which this tragic event has spun out of control is indeed sad. A man lost his life and however it may have been, there needs to be accountability to the highest level of the Baltimore city government. No spin no politics but justice. However, the city as a whole is not a place of evil and malcontent. I have LOVED this greater Baltimore area as a player and now as a resident. I have enjoyed speaking to so many people and their love of the culture of the Baltimore area. I refuse to believe and accept some ignorant narrow minded people who have nothing better to do but loot and break into stores and cause disorder and lawlessness to spoil my view of what Baltimore and the surrounding counties have meant to me. I have met many a police officer as well, and can say the ones I have met are decent family people who do there jobs with integrity. I pray for peace for them and their families; for restoration of order; for those who broke the law to be brought to justice, and for healing for the City of Baltimore.”
Contrarily, you might recall that one Chicago sportscaster recently was fired over a joke he told about the situation.
“Sox in their Freddie Gray road uniforms in Baltimore tonight,” he tweeted on the one-year anniversary of the ghost game.
A man who broadcasts news for a living made a joke about a young man who lost his life for no reason and lost his job. The people who are responsible, but apparently not culpable, are less likely to lose theirs.
is the most talented person on YouTube
2:00 PMGary Rogers hosts a show called SKATELINE. Sort of like Nightline but whatever, you get it. He’s genuinely one of the funniest people on the Internet. “Gary Responds” is like the after-show to his own show. He keeps it beyond real when it comes to commentary snd he curses a lot, which makes me laugh. You don’t have to care about skateboarding to like it, but it does help.
managed to show up after a long night
Los Angeles highways
are apparently littered with skaters trying the #FreewayChallenge
10:00 AMHighways are made for cars. In California, cars are a way of life. You know what aren’t meant for the roads? You guessed it. The #FreewayChallenge isn’t exactly new, but it’s obviously super dangerous and when ambitious riders are armed with a hashtag, anything can happen. The California Highway Patrol is supremely upset about this whole situation, according to KTLA.
Some of these “tricks” are rather insane. Look at this.
And this. Dudes taking pride in getting themselves on TV executing the challenge.
LA’s gonna LA.
Nas’ latest movie
is a tale of Cleveland skaters trying to make it
8:00 AMNasir Jones is best known for his rap game, but he’s been in the movie business for some time. The Queensbridge emcee co-wrote the classic Belly back in 1998 with Hype Williams, and over the years has become a preeminent hip-hop philanthropist and businessman beyond his contributions to the culture as an artist. His latest project is a skate flick, titled The Land.
Jones teamed up with Erykah Badu for the soundtrack and the film is about four youngsters from Cleveland, Ohio who are looking to make it as pro skaters. Directed by Steven Caple, Jr. and executive produced by Nas, it’s set to debut in theaters in July 2016. It aired at Sundance in January and Variety described the film as “promising.” You might recognize Moises Arias from his role as Rico years ago on Hannah Montana.
From the trailer, it appears that this will be an intriguing story outside of the skate factor. It also appears to be a decent visual love letter to Cleveland, which we’re here for beyond shots of the Quicken Loans Arena. Also, Machine Gun Kelly, who claims the city as one of his hometowns is in it, which means if nowhere else, this flick will do well in its hometown.
Oh and Yeezy’s on the soundtrack, too.
feels sting of stereotypes as white football player
7:42 PMWhen we think of racial stereotypes in sports, we think of black men not being intellectually capable of playing quarterback, wide receivers and basketball players being nothing but self-indulged “divas” and black athletes only marrying white women.
But what about the other side?
Stanford running back and Heisman Trophy runner-up Christian McCaffrey recently explained to Sports Illustrated how race affects the perception of him as a collegiate running back because he’s white.
“When you read about white athletes these days and white skill possession receivers specifically, one word you’ll always find is tough,” McCaffrey said. “You’ll rarely see explosive, athletic, stuff like that. … You get a little bit upset.”
McCaffrey has a point: Last season he broke the NCAA single-season, all-purpose yards record, led his team in receiving and rushing yards — the only FBS player to do so in the country — broke the Rose Bowl record for all-purpose yards and still lost the Heisman to Alabama running back Derrick Henry by almost 300 votes.
When you type his name into Twitter’s search, fellow white running back Danny Woodhead’s name pops up alongside McCaffrey’s.
But while it can be frustrating to be taken serious as a white rusher — and that arguably led to some of McCaffrey’s success last season — there’s a long history of racial stereotypes portraying black athletes as intellectually inferior to their white counterparts.
Academic research has found that the media connects the success of black athletes to their superior natural ability — “They were just born that way” — compared to white athletes who had to, ironically enough, work twice as hard to be successful at sports.
McCaffrey, the son of Super Bowl-winning wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, has a fair point about the preconceived notions of him as a white running back, but is that really the worst thing in world?
changed the course of Memphis’ history
— seo (@odonovanse1) May 2, 2016
It’s a shame #memphismassacre1866 wasn’t a trending topic on Friday.
What happened in Memphis this month 150 years ago is a history lesson deserving to be told, however uncomfortable the details. Rising tensions stemming from the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction helped produce three days of unspeakable violence between May 1-3. Less than a month earlier, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 passed, essentially guaranteeing citizenship and forbidding discrimination based on race or previous condition of slavery.
Black soldiers who supposedly killed a white police officer attempting to arrest a black soldier ignited the brutality. Gen. George Stoneman, Fort Pickering’s commander, ordered black soldiers to the barracks and confiscated their weapons, leaving a nearby black neighborhood and black refugee camp completely defenseless.
From there, carnage ensued. White mobs, which included law enforcement, attacked the camp and black neighborhoods. Men, women and children were hunted down and shot in South Memphis. Some houses were even set afire and armed officials guarded them to guarantee no one escaped. Every crime from larceny to murder to rape took place. Think of the movie The Purge, but only on black people.
John C. Creighton, the Memphis city recorder, defined the moment’s evil in one quote. “Boys, I want you to go ahead and kill every damned one of the n—– race and burn up the cradle.”
Blood tattooed the streets of Memphis. Families were physically and psychologically shattered. Approximately 50 people were killed and the psyche of the city’s black community was scarred permanently moving forward.
But most unsettling, yet unsurprising?
No arrests were made. Congress explained the chain of events in a detailed report, but not much happened to remedy what Memphis’ black residents were forced to endure. The government essentially washed its hands of the slaughter.
If you’re searching for an in-depth account of the horror inflicted on the city where Martin Luther King Jr. took his last breath, The Atlantic has an incredible breakdown well worth the read.
Figure it out, Kyle
the game and series aren’t over
4:20 PMKyle Lowry leaving the bench and walking to the locker room to “decompress” in Game 2 shouldn’t be the Toronto Raptors lone Eastern Conference finals highlight. But alas, here we are. The 9-year guard out of Villanova has been getting roasted all morning — as he should — but the issue is two-fold. Lowry is wrong, but so are the Raptors.
Toronto, perhaps inadvertently, threw Lowry under the bus. Sometimes a franchise has to save a player from himself. Say he had a hamstring tweak, bruised elbow, stomach ailment. Something, anything, that doesn’t scream “abandonment.” Chances are you’re going to get dump-trucked by the Cavs anyway, so make that the headline. The moment it was announced Lowry essentially walked off the court because he wanted to throw a pity party for himself is when this non-story became a story.
But ultimately, the mistake falls on Lowry. Who knows what’s going on in his life outside of basketball, if anything. But leaving your teammates in the middle of a game you absolutely had to win because you’re feeling bad about yourself isn’t the route to go. The All-Star point guard has played terribly in long stretches in the playoffs, shooting 35.7 percent from the field. Not a soul is going to feel bad for Lowry because he is cooking himself (get it, like Lawry’s Salt). And not to quote Jay Z, but “cry me a river, build a bridge and get over it.” For what it’s worth, too, the “decompress” session didn’t do much good. Lowry finished 4-for-14 from the field for an earth-shattering 10 points and five turnovers.
Reputations are everything in sports, and no one wants to be known as the guy who abandoned his team with a trip to the Finals on the line. However unlikely that is to happen.
You know you’re getting older when …
you realize Fresh Prince’s final episode was 20 years ago
Twenty years ago today, the final episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aired on NBC. pic.twitter.com/UCOFlLPgHj
— evan auerbach (@evboogie) May 20, 2016
Accept it. You’re old. Twenty years ago today, Hillary and Ashley were moving to New York. Carlton was moving east as well to start school at his father’s alma mater, Princeton. Uncle Phil, Aunt Viv and Nicky headed east to be closer to the rest of the family. Geoffrey, everyone’s favorite butler, gladly accepted his one-way ticket back to London.
But Will was still unsure what direction his life was headed in.
If anyone’s been living under a rock the past quarter century and doesn’t recognize the names, Friday marked the 20-year anniversary of the series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Debates have raged for years about the two Aunt Vivs, the best episode or funniest character, but it’s impossible to deny the show’s legacy and staying power.
For what it’s worth, too, Will figured out life pretty quickly after everyone moved out. Less than two months later, he stumbled upon an acting gig in some movie called Independence Day. Sources say it performed marginally decent at the box office.
your life changed the game
1:20 PMWhen the images of Michael Brown’s dead body lying in the summer Missouri heat began to circulate the Internet in August 2014, the world was introduced to the town of Ferguson.
Today would have been Brown’s 20th birthday had he not been shot and killed by Darren Wilson, an officer with the Ferguson Police Department.
He'll never know how much of an impact he made. Happy birthday Michael Brown. Rest in Power. 👼🏿
— . (@___JustBrandon) May 20, 2016
In my mind, the images are still haunting. The fallout and unrest in that town and in many other American cities after Wilson was not charged by a grand jury made global headlines and laid bare the grim reality that in the United States of America, when in doubt, shoot first, ask questions later is not just an idiom, but actual state-sponsored policy.
Black Lives Matter. Hands Up, Don’t Shoot. Deray and Netta. For all of the movements, characters and symbolism that came out of that fateful summer, there is still the memory of a young man who had his life cut short.
Brown’s death didn’t just impact the law enforcement, social justice and political spheres. The circumstances of the case were so poignant that many athletes were compelled to chime in with their thoughts.
— Kenny Smith (@TheJetOnTNT) November 25, 2014
Wow. Just wow. Shameful. What will it take???
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) November 25, 2014
America lost its innocence before it was ever technically created as a nation, but the word “Ferguson” will hold as much import on U.S. history as Selma or Watts. The days of standoffs between military-grade police forces and protestors brought rise to a new frontier of technology with Twitter and live-webcasting that democratized how we shared information with each other.
Brown’s life and celebrating his birthday is so important to people because he was exactly who so many of us are at that age: just kids trying to figure it out.
Earlier this month, the town of Ferguson hired its first permanent black police chief. But that won’t be enough to erase the memory of that summer in Missouri — for anyone, anytime soon.
told an incredible Prince story on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
12:05 PMPrince’s basketball prowess was well known among sports fans, particularly those in Hollywood who’d seen it in person. There’s of course, Charlie Murphy, who recounted the tale of his defeat with aplomb on Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show, which forever cemented the term “game, blouses” into our lexicons. That was also recently confirmed by Samuel L. Jackson on Instagram, not that anyone would have actually cared if it wasn’t.
But a lesser-known story, until Magic Johnson revealed as much last night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, was one the three-time NBA MVP told Thursday about hooping with the Minnesota legend once. “He talked so much trash, he thought he had a real jump shot,” Magic said. “I had to remember it was Prince that I was playing against so I had to back off.” Of course, the way Murphy told it back in 2004, Prince’s jumper was nothing but wet. Murphy ain’t Magic.
The best part of the interview, though, is about a time when Prince called Magic to tell him he wanted to see a movie. Naturally, he showed up at 2 a.m. with his whole squad in pajamas. The tales of the late musician’s night-owl antics are legendary. Personally, I’d love to believe that whoever the person running the projection that night had the time of their lives.
While things are sorted out with Prince’s estate and we learn about the details of his final days, expect a lot more stories to come out that celebrities had in the recesses of their minds. Let’s hope that all those memories are as fun as this one.
Daily Dose: 5/20/16
Serena isn’t stopping any time soon
10:54 AMHey gang, I’m headed to Asheville, N.C., for the weekend to watch a friend get married, dig for sweet vinyl, tour breweries, watch minor baseball and basically just act like I’m Crash Davis, which is the move. Should be fun.
If you haven’t been paying attention to Boko Haram, there is something resembling good news on that front. Earlier this week, a schoolgirl who was captured by the group was rescued. If you don’t recall, this is where the #BringBackOurGirls movement started a couple years back that suddenly had everyone in America tweeting about West African politics. That aside, the schoolgirl who was one of hundreds kidnapped was found with child. On Thursday, she got to meet the president of her nation, a small consolation indeed. ABC News’ Morgan Winsor has the story.
For all the political banter over bathrooms in this nation, there’s a separate matter regarding the issue that is at the core of the debate: signage. Beyond the specificity of urinals versus toilets, what the door to the facility says is, in fact, hugely important. Hence the clash in philosophies. And because of that, the people who make those actual signs are about to experience a serious boom due to demand from people who support gender-neutral bathrooms. And they come in different shapes and sizes — the signs that is. ABC News’ Susanna Kim breaks it down.
People go to sporting events for various reasons. Some do it to hang out with their friends, others to drink beer and some even like to watch the competitions. In all seriousness though, the potential added incentive of some free food tends to get people really excited. Just check out any basketball game where free chicken is on the line for missed free throws in the fourth quarter. In Major League Baseball, pizza is a big deal and also a fascinating index for where each local economy is per team. FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Lindbergh and Rob Arthur analyze how market forces affect which ballpark is most likely to get you a discounted slice.
Serena Williams is my favorite American athlete of all time. She recently supplanted Deion Sanders on this list, so in my eyes she can do little wrong. She dominates her opponents then uses whatever language of the country she’s in to gracefully accept her trophies. Even when she doesn’t win she’s awesome. Anyways, with the French Open coming up, we’re rolling back around to the time of year when people start questioning whether or not she’s motivated to play tennis. Sidebar: Have you seen her apartment in Paris? It’s tremendous. ESPN’s Johnette Howard explains how Serena has been rejuvenated.
Coffee Break: Mascots have extremely difficult jobs. You have to jump and run around in a sweltering hot suit and entertain people who can’t even tip you. Beyond that, you’re not even allowed to talk. But how do people get that job? Well, they go to school, just like for anything else. Here’s how it goes when a reporter tries to do the same.
Snack Time: I can’t think of anything more peak hipster than an Apple store in Brooklyn. Maybe an artisanal tea and crumpet station INSIDE an Apple Store in Brooklyn. Hey, guess what? An Apple store is coming to Brooklyn.
Dessert: Here’s a lovely collabo between Willow Smith and Michael Cera of all people. Happy weekend, kiddos!
is not here for teenagers rapping the N-word
Barry Bonds has been a controversial figure throughout his baseball career, but now he’s taking a stand against the school his daughter attends in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The best hitter in MLB history wants the students in the video suspended. A group called Brentwood Students Against Racism (BSAR) has posted a petition on Change.org that had reached 600 signatures by Wednesday afternoon.
“A group of almost exclusively white students had a party on a boat and decided to sing the n-word multiple times,” the petition reads. “Brentwood has done nothing other than offer to “talk to them” If these kids weren’t in their socioeconomic position, of their racial heritage, or considered ‘assets’ to the community (based on social status and/or their parents wealth), consequences would be different. Brentwood claims to value diversity and acceptance, but their lack of action demonstrates otherwise. This is just another example of their white favoritism.”
The video depicting kids singing the ASAP Ferg song “Dump Dump.” Bonds’ ex-wife, Elizabeth Bonds, also checked in on the matter regarding where her daughter attends. “Is this what $40k worth of private education gets you? I am extremely embarrassed that my daughter is a current junior at this school and has been here since kindergarten,” she wrote. “I can’t even speak. I blame the parents of these children. SMH.”
Are we mad at the kids at Barry Bonds' daughter school for singing the N-Word in a rap song? I'm not.
— The Extraordinary Xilla (@BlogXilla) May 19, 2016
The issue of white kids/people using the N-word in music is not a new dispute in the world of hip-hop, but certainly an evolving one. If you’ve been to a concert in the last 10 years, you’ve heard it happen. The line of demarcation is somewhat generational. Ja Rule, who hasn’t made a song of consequence in forever, thinks that we’re just going to have to live with a world in which this is the case. But Rich Homie Quan says he enjoys it when his white fans say the word, as it demonstrates a higher crossover appeal.
Travis Scott went so far as to basically force a fan to say it as part of a lyric, and then said it was an emotionally positive experience for him personally.
If you’re going to freak out every time you see a college kid in black face or hear a high-schooler drop an N-bomb, you’d probably never make it out of bed. But you do have to wonder if the vitriol around the most electric word in the English language for Americans will ever truly be removed from its usage. Perhaps more intriguingly is the notion that hip-hop would be the vehicle through which that happened. Are we that woke as a society yet?
In California, it doesn’t appear so. BSAR declined to comment on the story, citing concerns about potential backlash or legal action against them.
RGIII claps back
with tweets that say he still doesn’t care
5:13 PMBob just can’t help himself.
In the story “The Puzzling Plummet of RGIII,” The Undefeated’s Jason Reid analyzes why the once extremely promising star in the NFL found himself run out of town in Washington by a team that wasn’t particularly excellent either way. It painted a picture of a young man who was concerned about far too many things other than winning football games at best and completely self-absorbed at worst.
On Wednesday, Robert Griffin III posted a message on Twitter that could be considered a comeback of sorts to Reid’s opus. Berea, Ohio, is 358 miles from Ashburn, Va., but not so far that a critical piece might not still sting the man who won rookie of the year in 2012 as Dan Snyder’s prodigal son.
How does a man hit a target he can not see? The better question is how does a man hit a target he does not have? #FoodForThought
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) May 18, 2016
How? Easy. The Internet. It’s 2016. As for this line — “How does a man hit a target he does not have?” — that’s an interesting question coming from a guy who, after demanding to become more of a pocket passer, had trouble hitting his downfield… actually, nevermind.
Is the pressure on Griffin extreme? Sure. This is the bed he made and it went extremely awry at one of the most toxic franchises in the history of the league. But the longer he chooses to keep trying to portray a larger-than-life social-media presence, his persona as a diva is not going to go away. Especially not with his former coach Mike Shanahan jumping at every single chance to throw dirt on him. It’s like an episode of Celebrity Deathmatch with these two.
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) May 19, 2016
Ooh, this we like. Sort of an artsy, Instagram filter feel here with the Polaroid setup? Nice. But it’s awkward because there’s a grammatical error and the capitalization on said word sort of makes it seem like he’s referring to himself as a king, which is also just a tad grandiose for a quarterback who might not even be starting come Week 1.
It was nice to see him actually running around, doing drills and playing football. As a fan of his former team, I’d gotten so used to just seeing him standing on the sideline in pads. When Griffin completes his first touchdown pass in Cleveland, it’ll probably be a familiar feeling.
Then he’ll remember that he’s in Cleveland.
to discuss O.J.: Made in America 30 for 30 film
2:47 PMOn Thursday night in New York City, writer and director of the ESPN Films’ 30 for 30 O.J.: Made In America will discuss the film with New York Magazine’s Rembert Browne at the Museum of the Moving Image. The five-part film that delves into the history of not just the murders of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman and the subsequent trial of O.J. Simpson, it also shows the racial and economic climate of Los Angeles and the United States that led up to the incident.
The film goes into tremendous detail about Simpson’s past, his career at the University of Southern California from a social standpoint and the world in which his celebrity rose in such a unique manner. The first episode airs Saturday, June 11 at 9 p.m. EST on ABC. The following episodes will air on ESPN on Tuesday, June 14, then on June 15, 17 and 18.
Last weekend on ESPN Radio’s The Undefeated special, The Undefeated style writer Jill Hudson, staff writer Justin Tinsley and I sat down with Edelman to discuss what it was like to make the definitive documentary about the fallen NFL star and what happened in his life after he was acquitted.
Have a listen to the full 20-minute conversation here.
Lil Yachty is living his best life
as a model for a new fashion line collaboration
If you’re not familiar with Lil Yachty’s work, you will be soon. The 18-year-old Atlanta rapper is part of the newest generation of talent coming out of the city that’s changing what’s considered Internet success in the music industry. His song “1Night,” produced by Burberry Perry, is a classic tale chronicling the current psychology of “hookup culture.”
He’s moonlighted as a model for Kanye West and, now, he’s taking that career path even further. Yachty stars alongside an actual black puma in the new ad for a collaboration between Puma and Pink+Dolphin, the fashion line that lives in brick-and-mortar form in Los Angeles’ popular Fairfax Drive fashion district, which is also home to brands like Supreme and Diamond Supply Clothing. The Suede Classic shoe collection featured drops on May 21, after originally being announced in February.
First off, this line looks extremely dope. The suede low-tops with the two-tone gum soles is a perfect summer look and those socks, showing off the Dolphin wave logo, are fire. Also, it’s pretty hard not to look good in a matte navy Ferrari. There also appears to be a sort of modified soccer jersey he’s sporting, and with Puma sponsoring five teams in this year’s UEFA European Championship, expect that to be a popular look.
Overall, it beats making tracks with Kylie Jenner.
has a new Beats ad and it’s all Oakland
How much Oakland can you pack into one 30-second commercial? A whole lot if you’re Beats By Dre. Their newest ad, featuring the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, is a mini-love letter to the Bay Area. Also starring in the ad is E-40 and his now decade-old song “Tell Me When To Go,” a banger that opened the country’s eyes to the hyphy scene.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 18, 2016
Remember that? It was awesome. Ghost riding the whip, dreads flying, tons of fun. The commercial also mimics the visual vocabulary of the original video. We had almost forgotten how much a heat rock this track really was. Anyways, the best part of the ad comes in a barbershop scene in which both Gary Payton and Brian Shaw (Oaktown natives) are sitting in the chair.
No word yet on whether or not the headphones stay on your head when actually do the “go dumb” dance.
Daily Dose: 5/19/16
Cam Newton is riding custom clean
9:46 AMWednesday night’s season finale of Empire wasn’t exactly awful, but for the second season in a row, they ended with a dud. It feels like the writers can’t decide who they actually want the real star of the show to be.
The American incarceration system can really break your spirit. The war on drugs filled U.S. prisons with reckless abandon and, in some facilities, made life for not just the inmates but the guards extremely trying. There is violence, health risks and potential psychological trauma that comes with being the one responsible for making sure that people locked in cages don’t harm themselves or others. One place that’s particularly known for its brutality is Rikers Island in New York City. ABC News in a special report takes a look at what a day in the life of an officer there is like.
Dudes are often the worst. And when it comes to nearly anything in entertainment — gaming, movies, TV shows, sports — aimed at women, there’s always some guy around to explain why such a thing is problematic or boring, lest it affect their fragile male psyche. But because mainly television programs are judged based on the success of not just ratings, but online reviews too, the noxious words of the men watching them have very real effects on what gets done. FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey analyzes how men are sabotaging shows that are not aimed at them.
“Not perfect grammar, always perfect timing” was a lyric boasted by the Beastie Boys’ Mike D on the 1989 song “3-Minute Rule.” It’s a pretty decent life strategy, if you ask me. But when it comes to the world of media, for some, it’s not good enough. Not all players use the best language syntax when talking to reporters. Some don’t speak English as their first language. As a result, there’s sort of an unwritten rule about quoting players in which it’s understood that you don’t embarrass an athlete for how he talks. Recently, in Houston, the opposite happened. ESPN’s J.A. Adande delves into why this practice exists.
If nothing else, Cam Newton’s stunt game is next level. The best player in the NFL isn’t just a force on the field, but he’s a stylish guy whose career after he leaves the league will probably be stellar. Remember those $900 Versace pants he wore to travel to the Super Bowl last season? Those were mega fresh. Now, he’s got a new shiny toy, in the form of a 1970 Oldsmobile 442 Cutlass, a classic American muscle car. Only Cam’s is souped up to the max, including all sorts of actual bling in the paint and fabric of the interior. ESPN’s David Newton has the details of his ride.
Coffee Break: What if I told you that Cypress Hill, Public Enemy and Rage Against the Machine were joining forces to bring back political rap? Well, it might be happening. Reports say that B-Real, Chuck D and Rage sans Zach De La Rocha could be making this supergroup happen. The name? Prophets of Rage.
Snack Time: What do you get when a black family adopts a white baby? Well, for one, a hilarious premise for a movie and, secondly, one involving Lucien Jean-Baptiste, which is awesome. This should be funny.
Dessert: I love a good office prank and this battle taking over Canal Street is truly next level. More, please.
NAACP sues city of Flint
Group says city failed to provide safe water to citizens
6:25 PMPresident Barack Obama might have drank the water in Flint two weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean the saga is over in Michigan. On Wednesday, the NAACP filed a lawsuit on behalf of residents of the city where officials allowed water contaminated with lead to taint its water supply. The class-action lawsuit is seeking damages for the actions of a state-management company and names Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, as a defendant.
“The people of Flint have been harmed through the failure of state officials to provide professional and accountable basic services mandated by federal law and expected by any person living in a major city,” Cornell Brooks, CEO of the NAACP, said in a press release. “Our organization stands with the citizens of Flint to demand a clear timeline, deadline and price tag for fixing this crisis as well as effective remedies for the harms that have already occurred and complete compensation for each and every victim of this unimaginable tragedy.”
In recent months, multiple celebrities including quite a few athletes, have been donating water and other supplies to families who’ve been affected by the crisis. Rappers Meek Mill and Big Sean (who is from Detroit) pledged money and, in January, members of the Detroit Lions gave 94,000 bottles of water to the effort.
The NAACP plans to host town hall meetings on the matter soon.
got his swagger back in the Europa League final
HT: Liverpool 1-0 Sevilla
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 18, 2016
Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge hit a bananas outside of the boot strike to put his team up in the first half of Wednesday’s Europa League final against Sevilla. Seriously, that hit was nuts.
There’s no question he has rhythm. Over the past few seasons in the Barclay’s Premier League, we’ve been privy to see him show it off after he scores goals. Some people hate it. We love it. But the English footballer also has a passion for music and fashion. And apparently, he’s also got beats (Gotta wonder what his drop would be.)
— Ben Jata (@Ben_Jata) May 18, 2016
He’s been photographed with stars of all types and dope sneakers of many varieties recently, but he opened up to Highsnobiety last month to talk about this off-field interests. Check out the Q&A here, but for some real comedy, watch him face off against LFC teammate Jordan Ibe in a hip-hop quiz.
Listening to a Brit say “you gon’ learn today” will never get old.
has the greatest squad of all time
2:02 PMA million dollars isn’t cool, we learned in 2010. A billion dollars is cool. You know what’s cooler than a billion dollars? More than a billion dollars, and apparently, that’s what Nike’s investing in LeBron James. That detail was revealed in GQ’s interview with Maverick Carter, the man who pulls the strings in the King’s empire.
Back when news broke that Nike signed a lifetime endorsement contract with James, it was the confirmation of the ultimate squad flex that was LeBron deciding that his boys were a better business decision going forward than the establishment. But let’s think about this. Is it possible that a billion-dollar deal is in fact, a bargain?
Think about it. According to many sites, the Akron native’s net worth is $300M. If a billion is a thousand millions, and the company is going so far as to endorse him for the rest of his life, then getting to a billion will not be difficult once a fully constructed lifestyle brand is established. Of course, this is why it’s smart for both sides. Nobody says no to a billion dollars, ever. And it only really makes sense for Nike if they can make a billion off of it, as well.
This might be one for the squad at FiveThirtyEight. Stay tuned.
can apparently code-switch with the best of them
12:18 PM“Baby Got Back” is not remotely close to Sir Mix-A-Lot’s best song, but its cultural impact is inarguably off the charts. The track that gave ultimate praise to large posteriors was named as the best one-hit wonder of the ’90s by VH1 and even got a symphony to turn up. The song has been co-opted in many ways over the years, and Blake Lively is the latest to do it.
“Oh. My. God. Becky. Look. At. Her. Butt” — that sentence starts the song and set the precedent for whom we now refer to rather casually as “Beckys.” Ask Beyonce. “Even white boys got to shout” is a lyric that will forever be screamed on wedding reception dance floors. There are still people getting their lives changed by Mix, even through random chance.
But there’s one part of the song that is not a lyric, not a sketch, but rather a random portion of a hook, that is extremely important.
“LA face with an Oakland booty” means one thing: pretty face, big butt. Why are those two things somehow considered mutually exclusive? Well, you can blame that one on our old friend, traditional standards of beauty. Los Angeles, well-manicured and sculpted with Hollywood flair, represents one thing. Oakland, home of E-40, Marshawn Lynch and (ahem) the Black Panthers, represents something entirely blacker and in the face of what we consider refinement, a more raw aesthetic. Or in short, black women.
The phrase alludes to sort of Kardashian-style “best of both worlds” construct of “beauty” that is both enjoyable and confounding. If you don’t really get that line, it’s a fun one to say. Shouts to Cali! Yatta yatta. But if you do understand it, there’s some internal conflict. Why am I buying into why this even makes sense? Why can’t “Oakland face” be a thing? There’s a lot to unpack in that DJ scratch. There are even T-shirts if you want one.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, the best Sir Mix-A-Lot jam of all time is this one. It’s not even close.
Daily Dose: 5/18/16
The Sixers have a shot at respectability
9:55 AMSince we’re here, just want to give appreciation to everyone who read, watched, shared, or otherwise tuned in Tuesday for our launch. It was an exhilarating day on many levels, so, very plainly: THANK YOU. We outchea.
Pardon my ignorance, but if Hillary Clinton is elected, will it be Ms. or Mrs. President? If we really think about it, there’s a conundrum there because — from my rudimentary understanding of the English language — Mrs. is used to describe a woman who has taken another’s name. In her case, it’s not a name but a title, and the other person actually was president, too. Ugh. Long story short, last night two states that are diametrically opposite culture-wise went to the polls to decide who’s going to the Oval Office in January. Clinton declared victory in Kentucky while Bernie Sanders took Oregon. ABC News’ Julia Jacobo has the details.
I happen to be from a city where the HIV/AIDS problem is extreme. Washington, D.C., if you aren’t familiar, has infection rates that are on par with West-African countries in terms of percentages. As a matter of public health, paying attention to this fact nationwide is a matter of interest. But a new research map that was presented Tuesday by researchers at Atlanta’s Emory University shows that the large majority of risk for contracting the virus lies with gay and bisexual men in the American South. That is a direct result of the quality of the health care systems in that region. ABC News’ Michael Nedelman explains.
When I saw Captain America: Civil War, I was very excited about the number of black superheroes that would be populating the big screen. Not one, not two, but three! In all seriousness though, the act of integrating characters of color into films based on comic books is an unsurprisingly complicated topic on many levels. Sidebar: There’s one INCREDIBLE scene in that film in which the words “you will be moved” are uttered, which had me falling out in the theater. Anyways, the man who is the lone black producer in Marvel’s film division has an incredible history. If you’re smart, you’ll let The Undefeated’s Kelley L. Carter tell you how the story goes at FiveThirtyEight.
The Philadelphia 76ers are in a world of hurt. Their team is garbage. They’re putting random sponsors on their uniforms. No one shows up for their games, and they’re clinging to a legacy that isn’t coming back anytime soon. Seriously, the Sixers are one of the top five most important franchises to black America as far as the NBA is concerned, and they’ve been floundering for the better part of a decade when it comes to relevance on the court. That said, they won the draft lottery Tuesday night. Yay! Hold your horses, though. Allen Iverson isn’t walking through that door. ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk reports.
Coffee Break: What do you do when you go to bed? Read a book, a magazine or, gasp, a newspaper? I read my phone. But there’s a new thing out that sort of forces one away from the latter. It’s a lamp that only works if your cellular device (I like that term because only airplane people use it) is off. I’m outfitting my whole crib with these.
Snack Time: Chance The Rapper isn’t the only one doing work in these late night music streets. Alicia Keys and Common performed on SNL last weekend and it was fun!
Dessert: I’ve been playing with this computer keyboard synthesizer toy all week. You should, too.
learns a quick lesson in American racial politics
11:42 AMSteven Grizzly Adams is a center for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is from New Zealand. Monkeys are not native to that nation. So when he called the Golden State Warriors guards “quick little monkeys” after his team’s 108-102 victory Monday in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, it didn’t sound great.
Calling people, specifically black people, “monkeys” is certainly a faux pas in today’s polite society, because it’s a lazy metaphor that a) makes no sense scientifically and b) is insulting. Just take a look at a soccer game happening anywhere on the globe save this continent, and you’ll find people making howling noises and throwing bananas at black players. This is not new. But there’s a history of commentators saying that word in this country, as well.
But Adams is a Kiwi. I’m willing to give him a pass for not understanding the true nature of his comments, even if they were insensitive. From a more basketball-oriented standpoint, they’re also inaccurate. Stephen Curry is not a tough monkey — he’s the first and only unanimous MVP of the NBA.
“It was just a poor choice of words, mate. I wasn’t thinking straight,” Adams said to USA Today. I didn’t know it was going to upset anyone, but I’m truly sorry. It was just a poor choice of words. I was just trying to express how difficult it was chasing those guys around. … Different words, different expressions, and stuff like that. But they obviously can be taken differently, depending on which country you’re in. I’m assimilating, mate, still trying to figure out the boundaries. But I definitely overstepped them tonight.”
Fair enough. Dude showed up to the U.S. in 2011. Delving into the whole racial history of New Zealand, which isn’t great, isn’t particularly necessary, as Adams doesn’t represent his whole nation, necessarily. He was just a tired dude having trouble keeping up with the best backcourt in the league. The apology was genuine, and everyone learned something.
Daily Dose: 5/17/16
A Mississippi school district finally gets it
10:51 AMWhat’s up, kiddos. Today’s the day. This is what you’ll get every morning from me, so you don’t have to pay attention to the news if life takes you elsewhere. Newsletter life is quite the thrill, if you love unread messages in your inbox. Kidding, let’s do this.
Mississippi is making progress. On the day before the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that desegregated schools across the nation with the goal of making learning an equal opportunity situation, a district in the Magnolia State is finally catching up. We’re 60 years removed from that monumental decision from the Supreme Court, but somehow, this place missed the memo. This particular location is almost two-thirds black from a student populace standpoint. Also, take some time to think about what the term “historically white” actually means. ABC News’ Meghan Keneally reports.
Speaking of states, when was the last time you were in Pennsylvania? It’s a fine state. My personal favorite place there happens to be a place called Breezewood. When it comes to electoral politics, however, the state is hugely important this year. Particularly if you’re a Republican. With Donald Trump trying to find a way to relate to “normal America” on his way to the Oval Office, the home of the 76ers and the Penguins might be the place he kicks off the actualization of that effort. FiveThirtyEight’s David Wasserman explains why that’s a possibility.
Full disclosure: I already miss Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan. When it was announced that the former New York Giants defensive lineman would be leaving the program for Good Morning America, I was legit upset that the best duo on daytime television was done. It got kind of awkward, but now, Kelly is doing her thing on her own, to an extent. There will be a long line of guest hosts to determine who’s ready. If we’re being honest, nobody can really replace Strahan, but that’s another story. ABC’s Joi Marie McKenzie has details on the new show.
When it comes to individuals in the NFL, there’s Marshawn Lynch and everyone else. The man who exploded on to the scene by running all over the New Orleans Saints in a playoff game has become larger than life due to his healthy disdain for outsiders and tremendously charming persona. I don’t even love football but I still can’t believe Pete Carroll didn’t give him the ball in the Super Bowl. Anyways, the man known as “Beast Mode” is obviously a very smart guy. The Undefeated’s Lonnae O’Neal spent some time peeling back the layers in Oakland.
Coffee Break: Mental illness is something that is chronically underreported, under discussed and under treated in communities of color. So when singer Kehlani admitted that she was struggling with said issues a while back, it was rather revelatory. This week, she showed remarkable courage by stopping to talk about it during a live show.
Snack Time: I listen to a lot of Action Bronson out of habit, but I might enjoy watching him cook and shop more than I do listening to him rap. Turns out, that just like Noreaga, he had a run in with Michael Jordan, too! Enjoy.
to the information mixtape for your grind
4:03 AMWhen The Undefeated Editor-in-Chief Kevin Merida first asked me to be a part of this project, he said he wanted something to be the “lifeblood” of the site. Although The Undefeated will deliver many big and important things from a journalism and entertainment standpoint, there still needs to be some fun.
That’s what I’m here for.
Art. Music. Life. Sports. Gear. Taste. We’ll cover it all.
You’re as likely to get a story on why rappers all suddenly have French bulldogs as you are a fashion analysis of Adidas’ new line of football cleats. Beyoncé launches a new athleisure line? On it. Vin Diesel sings “Oh Happy Day”? That works, too. President Obama and Steph Curry make a viral video for the My Brother’s Keeper program? Sure. A new documentary on the Roland TR-808 drum machine? Absolutely.
For weekends, we’ll go X Games-style and highlight athletes of color from the skate/snow/surf world for a feature we call “Board on Saturday.” Following that, we’ll take you around the world for “Street Art Sundays” in which we’ll showcase work from the graffiti/mural scene — a visual stimulant to close out your week.
Coming soon, we’ll have a daily newsletter to start your morning in case you haven’t caught up with the news yet. Politics, entertainment, random info, whatever.
And we’ll soon be launching a weekly podcast that I’ll host along with senior style writer Jill Hudson and culture and sports writer Justin Tinsley every Tuesday. We got you, fam.
See you on the internet.