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

Suspended Bowie State band won’t be at CIAA title game

Symphony of Soul was suspended Nov. 2 because of hazing allegations

11:43 AMTwo days before the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) football title game, where it should be playing, the Bowie State marching band won’t play because it has been suspended over hazing allegations.

The band was suspended on Nov. 2 for several undisclosed incidents. University president Aminta H. Breaux issued a statement Wednesday that said:

“Over the past several days, the university has worked to investigate initial allegations of hazing within the Symphony of Soul and the entire university band program.

“First and foremost our top priorities are assuming the safety of our students and maintaining the integrity of the university band program. We have found sufficient evidence to confirm the existence of hazing activities; therefore, all performance activities remain suspended, including travel to the CIAA football championship game this weekend. Further investigation is needed to determine next steps to be taken through the student judicial process, but we remain committed to concluding the process as soon as possible and resuming the normal operations of the band.”

Bowie students started a petition asking for reinstatement of the band and reconsideration of the decision so the Symphony of Soul could attend the championship game in Salem, Virginia. In part, the petition statement read: “We are aware that this was done as a safety and preventive measure on the university’s behalf. In many ways, the band and Dr. Wright has positively impacted the campus and community and because of the band, our experiences at this institution have been heightened.”

The petition had 585 signatures Wednesday and 130 comments from students, alumni and others in support of the band.

The band recently honored director Adolph Wright during the homecoming game for his 20 years as head of the program. Wright’s current status with the school at this time is unclear, and he did not respond to a request for comment or interview.

The CIAA championship game will be the second game the band misses because of the suspension. It didn’t play at the Bulldogs’ season finale, a 49-7 win against Elizabeth City State. Bowie State plays Fayetteville State, the Bulldogs’ third trip to the championship game in five years.

Inside the ‘most lit’ LeBron-tinged spot at ComplexCon — ‘The Shop’ comes to life

‘A haircut makes you feel brand-new … like you got some new shoes on.’

2:37 PMLONG BEACH, Calif. — On the corner of “HBO” and “The Shop,” a fictional set of cross streets inside the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center, stands a haven of camaraderie, conversation and, of course, cuts.

Yes, at the third annual ComplexCon, there was an actual barbershop celebrating HBO’s new The Shop, which debuted in August. The show takes viewers inside the barbershop, a staple of African-American male culture, for unfiltered conversations with the biggest names in sports and entertainment — all steered by LeBron James and his creative and business partner Maverick Carter.

In the season premiere, James discussed fatherhood with Golden State Warriors All-Star forward Draymond Green, comedian and cultural icon Jon Stewart, WNBA champion and MVP Candace Parker, Super Bowl champion/social activist Michael Bennett and hip-hop superstar Snoop Dogg. In episode two, The Shop welcomed record-setting recording artist Drake, who broke the internet by opening up to James and Carter about his beef with Kanye West — and the drama behind the reveal that Drake is in fact a father.

The idea behind the series translates easily into one of the largest activation spaces at this year’s two-day ComplexCon. A team of barbers manned stations inside the hardwood-floored area, where they provided free fades, lineups and shape-ups to celebrities, influencers and even your average convention attendee. A DJ spun outside the makeshift building, and sneaker cleaning was offered out back. All the while, podcast host and social media maven Denise Jones conducted on-camera interviews with folks sitting in barber chairs as Bevel blades hummed across their heads.

“I think it’s the most lit booth at ComplexCon,” said celebrity barber Marcus Harvey, whose clientele includes NBA Hall of Famer Grant Hill, NBA analyst/former All-Star Chris Webber, three-time NBA champion Klay Thompson and the legendary rapper Nas. “The barbershop is the last brick-and-mortar for anything.”

When HBO first announced The Shop, Harvey, who’s been working in the barber industry since he was 12 and has cut hair since he was 15, couldn’t believe it. “I was like, ‘Oh, s—!’ ” Harvey said while lining up rapper Nick Grant. “They’re showing some love to the culture, for real. … We always talk about the culture, the culture, the culture, but if you really think about it, the culture always starts in the barbershop. Every movement is started in the barbershop. Your barber is the first entrepreneur that you met. So for there to even be a show where the background is … community and entrepreneurship, it’s a whole ‘nother level. It’s dope that HBO could see that people are always going to connect with the barbershop.”

Hill, in town for ComplexCon fresh from inking a Fila lifetime endorsement deal, pulled up for a cut. So did Nas, an investor with the company that produces Bevel products. Geiva, a female master hairstylist for men based in New Jersey, shaped up rapper A-Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. And a few chairs away, Cena Barhaghi, co-founder and creative director of the popular streetwear brand Pink Dolphin, got hit with some clippers.

“A haircut makes you feel brand-new,” Barhaghi said, “like you got some new shoes on.”

Seems like the only two people who didn’t come through the booth were Carter and James. But understandably so, given the Los Angeles Lakers played a back-to-back on the same dates as ComplexCon. “I’ve already cut ‘Bron,” Harvey said. “On my barber bucket list is Barack Obama. Once I get Obama in my chair, I’m retiring for five days. I’ma fast. I’ma go on a Himalayan hike. And I’m gonna talk about what we talked about to myself.”

Who knows? Maybe Obama will make an appearance on The Shop this season. LeBron, if you’re reading this, make it happen.

San Francisco 49ers cheerleader kneels during national anthem

‘Thursday Night Football’ kicked off with protest

11:32 AMA cheerleader for the San Francisco 49ers appeared to kneel during the playing of the national anthem ahead of the team’s home game against the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night.

Minutes before the 8:20 p.m. Eastern time kickoff, pictures began to surface online of the woman, who has yet to be identified, kneeling in the end zone with her hands and pompoms on her waist alongside other 49ers cheerleaders who were all standing.

The act of kneeling or sitting during the national anthem was started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. Kaepernick, who has been out of the league since the end of that season, refused to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” in protest of police violence and the oppression of “black people and people of color.” Scores of NFL players and other athletes have since joined Kaepernick in kneeling for the anthem, including former teammate Eric Reid, women’s soccer player Megan Rapinoe and various youth, high school and collegiate teams.

While athletes have gained the most attention for the protests, and the 49ers cheerleader was the first cheerleader in the NFL to participate, cheerleaders at all levels across the country have been kneeling during the national anthem.

In September 2016, a month after Kaepernick first sat, the entire Howard University cheerleading squad took a knee during the national anthem ahead of a game against Hampton. (The women did stand for the playing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” otherwise known as the black national anthem.) Since then, members of squads at Kennesaw State University, Georgia Tech and the University of Pennsylvania have also joined in on the protests.

Former NFL cheerleaders told Elle magazine in 2017 that their former counterparts hadn’t participated at that point because cheerleaders “are a little fish in a big pond” and that “there is a huge intimidation factor that these women experience.”

Since Kaepernick began the protest, he’s raised more than $1 million to donate to various social activism organizations and received various prestigious awards for his efforts. In October 2017, he filed a grievance against NFL owners, accusing the league and its owners of colluding to keep him out of the league because of his protests.