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

The controversial H&M ad has been reimagined by artists and the internet

With a focus on royalty and #blackboyjoy

1:59 PMAfter the recent controversy sparked by H&M’s decision to depict a black child model in a hoodie that read “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” several illustrators took it upon themselves to reimagine the image. Almost everyone stuck to a royalty theme, declaring the young boy a king and drawing crowns on top of his head.

Although the mother of the model, Terry Mango, has told people to “get over it” and doesn’t see a problem with it, the connotations of the original ad obviously struck a chord with many visual artists.

We’re not entirely sure whether turning the child into a billboard for other corporations, throwing him in Timberland shoes or adding pyramids in the background is doing the model any favors, but it is certainly interesting to see how so many different illustrators responded with images of their own.

Racist basketball jerseys prompt parent to resign from school board

Father of one of the team’s players says, ‘I could have done more’

5:50 PMWell, someone has taken responsibility for the basketball team with racist names. A member of the Kings school board in suburban Cincinnati resigned Tuesday night because his son was on the “Wet Dream Team” recreation league squad. The names “Knee Grow” and “Coon” were on the back of two team jerseys.

“I could have done more. I could have said more. So to whatever degree I can help the healing, I will,” Kerry McKiernan said at a regularly scheduled meeting of the board on Jan. 9. “I’m resigning because it’s the right thing to do.”

On Jan. 7, the fourth game of the season, a parent of an opposing team member posted photos of the jerseys on Facebook. The story went viral, and the league kicked the team out. The coach issued an apology to “anyone who was offended” and went silent.

McKiernan said no one on the team meant to hurt anyone. “To whatever degree I’m responsible, I apologize on behalf of Kings to anybody that was hurt. … There’s no place for hate or prejudice anywhere.”

He defended his son as “beautiful, he’s kind, he’s loving, he’s never been in trouble, he’s never hurt anybody. He’s good to everybody. He’s a beautiful kid. Supportive to everyone.”

“He and I are guilty of association, some very bad decisions, some bad choices. We’re guilty of not saying no. But the reality that our family is associated with this is heartbreaking. It breaks my Christian heart. There aren’t any excuses or explanations, and I’m not going to try and make any. As a parent, there were reasons I didn’t say more, there were reasons I didn’t do more. … I never saw my role as anything other than a father of one of the players.

“We must learn that we are responsible all the time in every circumstance to stand up to prejudice, bigotry, stupidity, in both what we say and how we act, regardless of our age or our position. … I could have done more. I could have said more.”

It will be interesting to see what further fallout and lessons emerge, it is hoped as soon as Monday — the holiday honoring late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

“We’re not ignorant enough, or naive enough, to say that we don’t have a problem,” said school superintendent Tim Ackerman.

The Census Bureau website estimates the population of Kings Mills as 1,470 — and says that all 1,470 residents are white.

‘Black Panther’ ticket presale is breaking all of the records

It’s even beating ‘Captain America: Civil War’

4:46 PMIt’s just as lit, and just as record-breaking, as so many always knew it would be. According to Deadline: “After tickets went on sale Monday night, Black Panther is already outstripping Captain America: Civil War as Fandango’s best-selling MCU [Marvel Cinematic Universe] title in the first 24 hours of presales. Captain America: Civil War kicked off the opening of summer 2016 during the first weekend of May with $179M.” Oh. Yes. We are really coming down to the wire. Director Ryan Coogler is starting to talk about his Panther influences (among them 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2010’s A Prophet), and there’s the amazing Kendrick Lamar video/film trailer. Soon we’ll all know the answer to the question “You’re telling me the king of a Third World country runs around in a bulletproof catsuit?” Black Panther, starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Daniel Kaluuya, Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Andy Serkis and Danai Gurira, opens Feb. 16.

The Plug, ‘To All The Ladies In The Place’ (Episode 5): Shakyla Hill and Stephania Bell get right at home

For those with vested interest in this weekend’s NFL games, you might want to listen to Stephania

2:09 PM

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One week into 2018, the ladies have already officially taken over our airwaves. The Plug returns with NFL injury analyst Stephania Bell to chop it up about the status of key players heading into this second week of playoff action around the league. Bell also gives insight into the complexities of her job and how her background in physical therapy directly affects her career.

The squad then chops it up with Miss Quadruple-Double herself — Grambling’s own Shakyla Hill. The star guard talks about realizing the accomplishment was in reach and what she told her teammates in the moment. Her reaction to praise from LeBron James is priceless too. And you’ll never believe the role her mom played in making the historic quad-double happen.

From there, Chiney, Kayla, Tes and myself wax poetic on a variety of topics, including Serena’s pink slip at the Australian Open, LaVar Ball’s recent comments about Lakers head coach Luke Walton, what the first round of NBA All-Star Game votes mean and, yes, O.J. Simpson’s Las Vegas tailgate experience. You should know the deal by now, but tell a friend to tell a friend to subscribe to The Plug on the ESPN app! Pull up on us next week!

Previously: The Plug, ‘Happy New Year’ (Episode 4): with special guest co-host Mike Golic Jr.

Serena Williams and daughter Alexis Olympia grace the cover of ‘Vogue’ magazine

The tennis icon and her baby girl have taken mommy and me to the next level

10:03 AMThe greatest of all time has done it again! Serena Williams may not be heading to the Aussie Open to win another Grand Slam title, but she has given us the gift of another amazing Vogue magazine cover — and this time baby Alexis Olympia has joined her!

The tennis star gave the magazine exclusive access to her stunning November 2017 wedding to husband Alexis Ohanian. Now the couple’s beautiful baby girl is making her debut, and she’s already got her smize game down pat!

The cover photo, which was shot by Mario Testino, shows Williams in a red dress with a simple sweetheart neckline, gold accessories and her massive engagement ring. Meanwhile, baby Alexis is serving up onesie realness.

In the accompanying article, Williams discusses motherhood, marriage and what’s next in her already phenomenal career, and she doesn’t mince words: There are more wins on the way.

“Maybe this goes without saying, but it needs to be said in a powerful way: I absolutely want more Grand Slams,” Williams says.

She also plans on teaching her daughter the secrets of black girl magic:

“Women are sometimes taught not to dream as big as men. I’m so glad I had a daughter. I want to teach her that there are no limits.”

Besides adorable mommy and me shots, the issue contains gorgeous flicks of Williams and her husband in full marital bliss, and others of the tennis star with her family looking very pajama party chic.

Vogue magazine has started the year off strong with black women gracing the covers of both the January and February issues. Last month, actress Lupita Nyong’o kicked off 2018 with her cover.

Check out the full article and stunning photos on Vogue.com.

NBA

Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine visit Warriors practice

Powerful duo meets with team for business of basketball meeting

9:24 PMThe Golden State Warriors hosted two special guests at Tuesday’s practice: entrepreneur Dr. Dre and his longtime friend and business partner Jimmy Iovine.

Director of player programs Jonnie West set up the visit as part of the Warriors’ annual business of basketball meeting.

Dr. Dre and Draymond Green chat at Warriors practice Tuesday.

Marc J. Spears

Dr. Dre and Iovine are the founders of Beats Electronics, which they sold to Apple for $3 billion in 2014.

“I’m a big Dr. Dre fan, so we got a pretty good deal today,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “You saw these guys … Jimmy. We have our business of basketball meeting, which is an annual meeting. Usually it’s talk about the salary cap and stuff, so this is a little more interesting.

“They are going to talk about business, so it’s a different way of approaching it. The league approved it. It’s pretty exciting to have these guys in here. … It’s pretty awesome. Our guys are pumped up.”

Jimmy Iovine (left) at Warriors practice.

Marc J. Spears

The players were surprised when Dr. Dre and Iovine showed up at practice.

“When they walked in, I was tripping,” forward Kevin Durant said.

Forward Draymond Green was eager to learn from Dr. Dre and Iovine.

“No. 1, how they were able to work together,” Green said. “Two completely different people. Total opposite ends of the spectrum. How were they able to bring that together? And then some things about how they went about their business. They made a headphone company worth $3 billion. That’s special.”

Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa is the first Samoan QB to win the national title, and other things to know

His family is no stranger to football

4:13 PMFaced with a 13-0 halftime deficit, Alabama coach Nick Saban made the decision to switch from sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts to true freshman signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa in the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night.

Tagovailoa had never been brought into a game with the Crimson Tide losing, but in the battle of freshman quarterbacks, Tagovailoa outshone the Bulldogs’ Jake Fromm in front of what might as well have been a home game for Georgia playing at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Tagovailoa orchestrated a comeback that saw Alabama score 26 points in the second half and overtime to win, 26-23. At least Georgia wasn’t the first team from the state to blow a cushy lead in its championship game (I’m talking about you, Atlanta Falcons).

In one half of work, the Hawaii native went 14-of-24 for 166 yards with three touchdowns, including the game-winning 41-yarder, and one interception to help give Alabama its fifth national championship under Saban. When someone comes on the scene like that, well, it’s time to get to know them.

Here are six facts about Tagovailoa and what his performance means in historical context.


1. Tagovailoa is the first Samoan quarterback to win college football’s national championship game

In 2015, a Samoan was 56 times more likely to play in the NFL than an American non-Samoan. For the most part, Samoans have been given positions along the defensive and offensive lines, linebacker, safety and occasionally running back. Quarterback has been an elusive position for the group.

With Tagovailoa leading the Crimson Tide’s second-half comeback against SEC foe Georgia, he became the first Samoan quarterback to win the national championship. With three more years of eligibility and offensive MVP performance, the floodgates may open.

Tagovailoa is by no means the first quarterback to represent the Pacific Island community, though. Washington State’s Jack “The Throwin’ Samoan” Thompson was in the discussion for the Heisman Trophy in 1978, was the highest-drafted Samoan (Cincinnati Bengals, third overall, 1979) and at the time only the fifth Samoan-born player to make it to the NFL.

Tennessee Titans signal-caller Marcus Mariota took over the distinction of highest-drafted Samoan in 2015 (second overall). Mariota had the best opportunity to become the first Samoan quarterback to win a national title, but his Oregon Ducks lost to Ohio State in the first CFP championship game. Mariota was the first Hawaiian-born player to win the Heisman.

Former Washington Huskies quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo, who in 1999 became the first player to pass for 300 yards and run for 200 in a game, had the next best opportunity. Tuiasosopo led the fourth-ranked Huskies to a 34-24 victory over Drew Brees and Purdue in the 2001 Rose Bowl and was named the MVP of the game.

2. Winning is in his DNA

Tagovailoa is the nephew of Fano Tagovailoa, who in a 2002 ESPN.com article on Samoan football culture was regarded as “the best quarterback we’ve seen in Samoa,” according to a local coach. Fano was the backup quarterback for the undefeated Utah team that beat Pittsburgh in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl.

And Tua’s brother, Taulia, the nation’s No. 8 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 class, has already received an offer from Alabama. Their parents pumped the breaks on Taulia Tagovailoa committing in July 2016, but his brother’s success has probably dumped a whole bucket of gasoline on an already hot fire.

3. the recruiting gods love alabama

Per ESPN’s Stats & Information, DeVonta Smith, who hauled in the game-winning touchdown, was a Georgia commit for a stretch during high school, while Tagovailoa received an offer from Alabama after they lost the commitment of Fromm. Funny how those things work out.

4. your boy can sing and play ukulele

From the short clip that Alabama offensive line coach Brent Key tweeted out, Tagovailoa has a pretty amazing singing voice.

5. HE picked alabama because of the school’s faith-centric environment

In a 2016 interview with SB Nation, Tagovailoa explained that Alabama’s biggest selling point for him was how intertwined religion was with the top-notch program.

“First and foremost, it was their belief in God. Their belief in God was one of the biggest things that kind of struck me. That kind of lines up with everything in my life,” Tagovailoa said. “It’s not really structured, ‘There’s God, and there’s anything else.’ It’s more, ‘God’s so in the middle, and everything revolves around him.’ That’s the kind of atmosphere I want to surround myself with.”

On a side note: An Alabama fan questioned Tagovailoa’s ability to adapt … because the fan thought someone from Hawaii couldn’t speak English. 🤔 I’m going to let you read this one for yourself. Hawaii has been the 50th state in the United States for almost 60 years.

6. no situation was tua (pun intended) much for the true freshman

This was the first time Tagovailoa was inserted into a game in which Alabama wasn’t leading by double digits all season. Tagovailoa played in Crimson Tide blowouts. He finished the regular season completing 35 of 53 passes for 470 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception. The last time he saw the field was a month and a half ago, when he went 7-of-11 for 85 yards and three scores in the Crimson Tide’s win over Mercer on Nov. 18.

Tagovailoa joined Ohio State’s Cardale Jones as the second quarterback in four years to lead their teams to a CFP national title victory without starting a game during the regular season.

N.C. A&T football coach Rod Broadway expected to retire Tuesday

Legendary coach won his second Celebration Bowl, and third national title, in December

5:30 PMI can count on one hand the number of times over the past year and a half when I’ve asked North Carolina A&T football coach Rod Broadway if retirement was on the horizon. And each time the man who has brought Aggie Pride to the sidelines at Aggie Stadium for seven years had answered the question, without flinching: “We’ll see what the future brings. … I’m just an old ball coach, thinking about the next game.”

After securing his second Celebration Bowl championship last month, Broadway is reportedly hanging up his clipboard. An 11 a.m. news conference to announce his retirement is set for Tuesday.

Broadway is walking away in Undefeated fashion, having finished last season 12-0 to give the Aggies their second black college national title in three seasons. Broadway, 62, coached the Aggies to a 59-22 record and retires as the only coach to win a black college football national championship at three different schools, including North Carolina Central and Grambling State. N.C. A&T was the only unbeaten team in the FCS this season.

Always a straight shooter, Broadway has been candid, sharing his thoughts with The Undefeated on player activism as well as the extra responsibility black coaches have as father figures at historically black colleges.

“When that time does come,” Broadway told me, “you can find me in Jamaica, where I like to go on vacation, with my feet up, doing some fishing.”

Well played, coach.

#Oprah2020 misses the point of her epic Golden Globes speech

The media mogul’s speech wasn’t about her at all

4:58 PMShortly after Oprah Winfrey delivered a galvanizing, inspiring speech about visibility and accountability while accepting her Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, the internet started gushing over how presidential she sounded. “Nothing but respect for OUR future president,” NBC (not NBC News) tweeted before deleting. Then people started speculating about whether she actually would run for president and arguing about her competence for the office.

But this conjecture unfortunately takes away from the power of Oprah’s speech as its own self-contained, and completely necessary, call to action. Her speech wasn’t about her at all, which is what made it so impactful. She, instead, used her platform and visibility to draw attention to exactly the kind of women who are often shunned and ignored in our society. The most vulnerable among us. The ones who can’t say #MeToo and #TimesUp and speak their truth without experiencing devastating consequences. She lifted those women up in her speech Sunday night, and she also asked men to take an active role in shutting down the cycle of abuse that happens in Hollywood, in media, in academia, in factories, in just about every part of society one can think of.

Before we breathlessly move on to The Next Big Thing in our news cycle, let’s make sure we take a moment to internalize what Oprah told us Sunday night and appreciate the moment for what it was: not the start of a run for the presidency but a night when a black woman, while being honored with a prestigious award, used her platform to tell vulnerable communities that they are seen.

H&M’s ‘coolest monkey’ hoodie and how racism wastes our precious time

As Toni Morrison taught us, the ongoing cycle of ignorance keeps us from our work

2:09 PMWhen I first saw the now-infamous H&M ad of a beautiful black child wearing a hoodie that reads “The Coolest Monkey in the Jungle,” my initial reaction was rage. Here we are, almost two full decades into the 21st century, and we are still seeing images that equate black people with monkeys, an ugly trope that has existed for hundreds of years. However, my rage was quickly followed by a deep weariness. I was reminded of the words of Toni Morrison when she addressed racism during a 1975 lecture on race and politics:

“[K]now the function, the very serious function of racism, which is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining over and over again, your reason for being. Somebody says you have no language and so you spend 20 years proving that you do. Somebody says your head isn’t shaped properly so you have scientists working on the fact that it is. Somebody says that you have no art so you dredge that up. Somebody says that you have no kingdoms and so you dredge that up. None of that is necessary.”

Racism, and specifically anti-blackness, manifests itself in a myriad of ugly ways. We seem to be in an endless cycle of:

  • Person/company says/does something horribly offensive
  • Offers a half-baked apology
  • Waits for the outrage to die down
  • And then it starts up again.

H&M issued an apology today: “We sincerely apologize for this image. It has been now removed from all online channels and the product will not be for sale in the United States.” Sadly, it isn’t the first company to release images with racist connotations and it won’t be the last. Nivea recently published an ad stating, I kid you not, “White is purity” and pulled it after white supremacists started sharing the image as a rallying cry. Dove came under fire a few months ago for an ad that showed an image of a black woman taking off a brown shirt to reveal a white woman underneath, as if blackness is something dirty and needs to be scrubbed off. And who could forget the recent Pepsi gaffe that treated the last few years of protests against police brutality, led primarily by black women, like a carefree day at Coachella?

What makes all of this so insidious to me, as someone who analyzes images for a living, is knowing the lasting impact that images can have on the psyches of people who consume them. Despite the apologies offered and the insistence by these companies of how much they believe in diversity and inclusion, the images are out there and the damage is done. And what I am also intimately familiar with is the energy and time wasted in fighting against this kind of messaging. What is lost when, instead of focusing that energy on ourselves, on elevating and lifting each other up, we are instead mired in a fight against the kind of messaging that tells us we’re not human.

Do I think everyone at H&M is a racist? Well, that is hard to say. But what I can tell you, as someone who has often been the only black woman in a room full of decision-makers, is that there probably aren’t enough people of color in their chain of command. There aren’t enough people in the room who have been on the receiving end of callous and insensitive remarks about their race or ethnicity. There aren’t enough people in the room who have believed they had to constantly prove their humanity time and time again. There aren’t enough people in the room who don’t have the privilege to feign ignorance about racist tropes that have existed for generations.

Jaguars’ Yannick Ngakoue: #Iaintjonathanmartin!

Defensive end accuses Bills guard Richie Incognito of racial slurs

9:20 AMJACKSONVILLE, Florida — Buffalo Bills guard Richie Incognito, suspended previously for his role in a bullying scandal, has been accused of making racial slurs during the team’s loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.

After the Jaguars’ 10-3 AFC wild-card round victory here, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue tweeted:

https://twitter.com/YannGetSacks91/status/950189563829542912

Incognito wears No. 64. Ngakoue did not respond to a message seeking comment, but he spoke to reporters here Monday. He stopped short of saying Incognito used the N-word.

“No, I don’t remember, but, you know, he said what he said,” Ngakoue said. “He knows what he said. I don’t have to repeat it.”

Attempts to contact Incognito’s agent, David Dunn, were unsuccessful.

Bills left tackle Dion Dawkins, who lines up next to Incognito, came to his teammate’s defense:

In 2013, the Miami Dolphins suspended Incognito for the final eight games of the season after it was determined he was a central figure in the bullying of former NFL offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. Ngakoue used the hashtag #Iaintjonathanmartin!

In a 2014 report on the Dolphins bullying scandal, Ted Wells, the NFL’s lead investigator, detailed “a pattern of harassment” against Martin by Incognito and other Dolphins players that included racial slurs. According to Incognito’s attorney, the report was “replete with errors.”

Incognito, 34, has revived his career with Buffalo after sitting out the 2014 season. In each of his three seasons since signing with the Bills in 2015, the 13-year veteran has been selected for the Pro Bowl.

In only his second season, Ngakoue, 22, has emerged as one of the NFL’s best edge rushers. He led the league with six forced fumbles and tied for eighth with 12 sacks. Ngakoue’s father is from Cameroon.

“I’ve been playing this game since I was a little kid. You hear all types of stuff,” Ngakoue said. “Stuff’s not going to bother you, but somebody says something about your ethnicity, that’s really kind of taking it a little bit too far.

“I’m all with trash talk. It’s part of the game, but you can’t say certain things.”

Erin Jackson makes history qualifying for U.S. Olympic team in long-track speedskating

First black woman to make long-track team, second ever on Team USA

12:06 PMErin Jackson, who took up speedskating just four months ago, qualified for an Olympic roster spot on Friday, becoming the first black woman on Team USA in long-track speedskating and the second ever to make an Olympic speedskating team.

Jackson, 25, came in third in the 500 meters at the U.S. speedskating trials in 39.04 seconds, a personal best. She finished behind veteran Olympians Brittany Bowe (38.18) and Heather Bergsma (38.42).

The Ocala, Florida, native was an inline skater for 15 years and started speedskating in March 2017, but she’s consistently trained on ice only since September. At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Jackson will join 17-year-old Maame Biney, who in December became the first black woman to qualify for a U.S. speedskating team when she won the 500 meters at the short-track trials.

Four-time Olympian and two-time gold medalist Shani Davis qualified for the U.S. men’s team on Wednesday after he finished second in the 1,000-meter race at trials.

“I really wasn’t expecting any of this, just coming in as a newbie, just trying to do the best I can,” Jackson told reporters Friday. “I still don’t even know.”