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

Southern University is first HBCU to get into medical marijuana

It’s agricultural research center gets $7 million in grants

9:43 AMSomebody had to be first.

Southern University and A&M College owns the distinction as the first historically black college or university (HBCU) to launch a medical marijuana program.

The Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based HBCU, known for its nationally acclaimed Fabulous Dancing Dolls, launched the program after a contract with Advanced Biomedics, a Louisiana-based company specializing in pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products, was approved on May 25, Baton Rouge news source WAFB reported.

What does this mean, you ask? Depends on whom you ask.

“This is a momentous event,” said Bobby R. Phills, chancellor of the Southern University Ag Center and dean of the College of Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences. “We are extremely excited to be able to provide quality medicine for the citizens of Louisiana. This groundbreaking research opportunity will also provide revenue for the University and economic development in North Baton Rouge.”

The Southern University Agricultural Center is currently awaiting the completion of background checks from the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry as part of the completion process, and the university plans to construct a facility on a 176-acre plot of land in Baker, Louisiana.

Southern University now joins Louisiana State University in the cannabis ranks, with both public schools set to cultivate and research marijuana in campus facilities in the state, which legalized the substance in 2016 but prohibited recreational use.

The school, which focuses on livestock, farming research and community education, will oversee the program, according to the report provided. The contract with Advanced Biomedics is set to automatically renew its agreement with the school for two consecutive five-year periods, leading to the assumption that this is a long-term partnership.

Southern University’s product will be ready for distribution at Louisiana dispensaries in early 2019, and the university is set to make a healthy amount from the marijuana facilities.

The Agricultural Research Center will receive $6 million, and Southern will get a $1 million signing bonus with each contract renewal.

Clearly it pays to be first.

The Audemars Piguet watch LeBron James wore for Game 1 worth at least $40,000, expert says

According to the luxury brand’s website, only 1,500 of the model were made

2:27 PMOAKLAND, California — Remember when LeBron James broke out a short suit outfit, valued $46,964.95, for Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals? Well, the ensemble is actually worth much more. Just take a look at the Cleveland Cavaliers star’s wrist.

According to watch connoisseur FakeWatchBusta, a social media sensation known for exposing celebrities for wearing inauthentic timepieces, James donned a super-rare Audemars Piguet, called the Royal Oak Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger The Legacy Chronograph during pregame and postgame of the Cavs’ 124-114 loss to the Golden State Warriors. The watch’s features include:

  • Self-winding chronograph with date display and small seconds at 12 o’clock
  • Ceramic case, bezel and crown.
  • 18-carat pink gold pushpieces
  • Titanium caseback with medallion.
  • Black ceramic case, black dial, anthracite strap.

According to the Swiss luxury brand’s website, only 1,500 were made, and the watch is currently “not for sale.”

“It retailed in shops for right over $40,000,” FakeWatchBusta told The Undefeated via email. The watch can be found on websites, such as swissluxury.com, for a resale value of as much as $46,495. But there’s certainly a chance James’ version of the Royal Oak Offshore Schwarzenegger could be worth more.

“Since he is endorsed by Audemars Piguet,” FakeWatchBusta wrote, “it could also be something special made, of course.”

The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Arnold Schwarzenegger The Legacy Chronograph, worn by LeBron James pregame and postgame of Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals.

James has a longstanding partnership with Audemars Piguet that led to the limited release of his own signature watch, the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore LeBron James, in 2013. At a retail price of $51,500, only 600 pieces dropped worldwide. And in early 2018, the watchmaker tapped James for an ad campaign directed by fashion photographer Rankin in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the iconic Royal Oak Offshore.

Come Game 1 of his eighth-straight Finals appearance, James’ choice of watch was surely a no-brainer. The Royal Oak is fit for a king and apparently worth every penny. The accessory brings the minimum total of this Game 1 outfit to nearly $87,000 — not even including his custom jewelry. Guess that’s just the luxury of getting paid more than $33 million a year to play in the NBA.

Kanye West dropped a new album while we were all recovering from the NBA Finals chaos

The rapper’s latest, ‘ye,’ offers a small peek into the weight his controversies had on his marriage

12:59 PMOnly the NBA — and one of the weirdest, most controversial and high blood pressure-inducing regulation endings ever — could make a Kanye West album listening session a secondary story.

Thanks to the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, particularly J.R. Smith, such was the case Thursday night. West, who has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since he returned to social media and the public spotlight, played his new album ye in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for invited media members, a host of collaborators and close friends who included his wife, Kim Kardashian (who just returned from a White House visit with President Donald Trump regarding prison reform).

The cover art for ye, which Kardashian said is a picture West took while riding to the session itself and features the statement “I Hate Being Bi-Polar. It’s Awesome,” is the first glimpse into West’s state of mind. West’s eighth studio album bookends a landmark week for G.O.O.D. Music, as it comes on the heels of Pusha T’s album and blistering battle record toward Drake with “The Story of Adidon.”

Lyrically, the album is standard Kanye. A witty punchline here, a cringeworthy run there (i.e., his Russell Simmons/#MeToo line on “Yikes”) and a splash of introspection. Those looking for lyrical precision are better off taking in Black Thought’s Streams of Thought, Vol. 1 EP that was also released Thursday night. Or a more cohesive listen in A$AP Rocky’s TESTING. If nothing else, West is a producer capable of stringing together glowing moments with soul samples, well-placed singing features (Jeremih, Charlie Wilson, Ty Dolla $ign and more) and harmonies.

Last month, West told The Breakfast Club‘s Charlamagne Tha God that while he was on medication he didn’t go to therapy because the world was his therapist. The music, in both positive and negative ways, reflects this. Look no further than ye‘s most honest moment in “Wouldn’t Leave,” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR and the aforementioned Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign. West weighs the consequences of his actions and offers unique perspective into how his recent controversial comments affected his marriage. When West infamously proclaimed on TMZ that “slavery was a choice,” the world erupted.

West was once a symbol of hope and the living embodiment of chasing a seemingly impossible dream with courage and self-confidence as fuel. For many, his comments were the last straw in pardoning an embattled artist who once spoke for so many. But according to West, the weight of the moment was felt most heavily in his own household. Now I’m on 50 blogs gettin’ 50 calls/ My wife callin’, screamin’, say, “We ’bout to lose it all!” he raps. Had to calm her down ’cause she couldn’t breathe/ Told her she could leave me now, but she wouldn’t leave. The cut is an unscripted look from the premier unscripted artist of his generation inside a household whose foundation is known for being heavily scripted. Though, it should be noted, that Kim’s reaction was out of fear of their empire crumbling, not the venom and ignorance in West’s statement. “For any guy that ever f— up. Ever embarrassed they girl. Ever embarrassed they wife. She told you not to do that s—. She told you’s gon’ f— the money up. But you ain’t wanna listen, did you?” he says on the song’s outro. “Now you testing her loyalty. This what they mean when they say, ‘For better or for worse,’ huh?”

Unfortunately for West — as a considerable amount of his fan base, many who have been searching their souls for weeks now, came to this conclusion — the music doesn’t matter more than the man and the actions he takes. Just ask Rhymefest.

Two Starbucks employees say the anti-bias training was needed, but it’s not nearly enough

‘Maybe it can stand as a pillar of equality’

12:50 PMIn April, Starbucks was in the news because a Philadelphia store manager called the police on two black men who were waiting for a friend. To address the bias that could lead to such an unfair response, Starbucks closed its doors early on Tuesday to send its employees through an anti-bias training session.

I talked to two employees from different stores who participated in different sessions. After the conversations I was shocked, confused, and slightly encouraged. Here are excerpts from our conversations. Frank is a white male in his late 30s. Mark is a person of color in his mid-20s.

Do you think the session was needed?

Frank: Absolutely.

Mark: Truthfully, as a person of color, I feel as though these are things I intrinsically already understand. But I believe it was necessary for my store specifically.

Mark: After the incident in Philadelphia, a co-worker asked me, ‘You know the whole Kanye West thing’ and I was like ‘umm, yeah, I do.’ And she went off saying that people online are calling him an Uncle Tom and a fake n—–. I went, ‘Excuse me?’ And she REPEATED HERSELF. And then she said, ‘it’s not like I was calling you a house n—– or something, I was just talking about the situation.’

Mark: On a different occasion a co-worker said to me, ‘I’m brown just like you, just on the inside’ while I was washing dishes one day. And another time, a friend told me that she heard transphobic comments as we just hired an individual who is transitioning. I didn’t report any of this, because it will just make a hostile work environment. I am trying to transfer.

What was the goal of the session?

Frank: The goal of the training was to bring into the light real-life racial, sexual, insensitive bias and to talk about how we can minimize those situations to the point that hopefully will have them no longer happen. Starbucks admitted that one four-hour training session isn’t going to fix any problems, so they made sure to stress that we all have to make efforts continue the progress that they made. (Neither man could remember the training facilitators giving recommendations for specific continued efforts.)

Mark: Being Color Brave was one of the main themes. The term colorblind was referenced as a platform long ago used to describe people who don’t see color, which is now known to be just as bad. Color Brave is being brave to be who you are and embracing your racial and ethnic backgrounds.

What happened in the sessions?

Mark: One of the first activities we did was introduce ourselves in small three- to six-person groups. We then were told to break off into pairs within those groups and make a list of eight reasons why we are different.

Frank: For me the most effective exercises were watching videos of people of color still telling stories about how they get followed in stores to ‘prevent theft’ and then hearing one woman say that she wishes she could walk out her door and feel carefree like the white guy she sees on the street. That last part is a direct quote and it bothered me to my core that still this bulls— continues.

Frank: They gave us 39-page workbooks. We were supposed to write our thoughts in them and take them with us.

This shows two pages from the diversity training workbook used in May 29, 2018 training of Starbucks employees.

Photo by Domonique Foxworth

Mark: They explained the difference between explicit and implicit bias. Then they ran us through the Stroop Color [and] Word test so we would understand that stereotypes are cognitive shortcuts we form.

Was the session beneficial?

Mark: For the company, perhaps. Maybe it can stand as a pillar of equality, great.

Frank: Yes. I think more companies need to do this, but the real change that needs to happen are everyday people coming to the same realization that racial bias needs to stop. That’s when true change will happen. I just wish it was easier. People give up because learning anything new is tough and Americans are lazy.

How would you describe the training with one word?

Mark: Needed.

Frank: Costly.

Closing 8,000 stores for a half-day most certainly cost Starbucks some profits. But the costs of biases are ordinarily paid by the same segment of our society. And they don’t get to pick the day or the price.

On April 12, when Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were cuffed and arrested, they were forced to pay with a bit of their dignity. Though everyone knows one session won’t eradicate biases held by Starbucks employees, if the result of the session is a lower likelihood of an incident like that recurring, then Tuesday’s cost is a worthwhile investment.

Nick ‘Swaggy P’ Young: ‘Just to have a pair of Pharrells … and I have a pair of Kobes, signed. That’s something I do.’

The Warriors guard on playing in Pharrell x Adidas Crazy BYW X during the playoffs

10:52 PMOAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — During media day on the eve of the 2018 NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors shooting guard Nick Young’s face lit up when asked about his most important style decision of the playoffs. “That was,” he said with a smile, “legendary.”

The moment occurred during the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets. Before Game 6, Young showed up to Oracle Arena holding a fresh new pair of Adidas’ “Gratitude/Empathy” Crazy BYW Xs — a collaboration with superproducer Pharrell Williams. In late April, Pharrell — who signed with Adidas in 2014, and has since inspired some of the brand’s most coveted lifestyle shoeswore the BYWs for the first time during a press tour in China for another one of his signature collections. But the sneakers hadn’t made their debut on 94 feet of hardwood until Young began warming up in them before the Warriors’ 115-86 blowout win over the Rockets on May 26.

Unbeknownst to Young, the player commonly referred to in both basketball and fashion circles as “Swaggy P” — Pharrell would be sitting courtside for Game 6 with the shoes on his feet. “When they told me he was showing up,” Young said, “I was like, ‘Man … please, coach, lemme play a little bit!’ That’s Pharrell — somebody I look up to, fashionwise, and how cool he is.” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr obliged, throwing his backup sharpshooter into the win-or-go-home matchup for 16 minutes, during which Young dropped five points while rocking the kicks.

After the game, the hooper and his idol shared a moment. “Skateboard P and Swaggy P,” said Young, who joined Adidas in 2015 after Nike failed to match the deal. Pharrell even broke out a pen and signed the shoes: “To the clutch, Swaggy P!

“Something to keep in my collection. Just to have those, a pair of Pharrells … and I have a pair of Kobes signed,” Young said. “That’s something I do.” As for whether we’ll see Young in the multicolored, Pharrell-inspired basketball shoes during the Finals? “Nah … ” he said. “I ain’t playing in them again.”