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

Amazon has high hopes for its new shopping service

but it’ll be a long time before we trust this technology

3:00 PM

At a time when reasonably large amounts of people are protesting the fact that a shopping mall has a black Santa Claus, Amazon wants us to believe that walking in and out of a store without having to ever do so much as pull out a wallet to buy things is going to fly.

The online retailer is unveiling a new grocery store that due to various forms of microchip and other technology will allow shoppers to check in, shop as they choose and walk out without having to ever stand in line, deal with a cashier or pull out money. In theory, this is a beautiful system. In practice, most people who’ve grown up under the watchful eye of shopowners their entire lives wouldn’t set foot in this place.

Seriously, think about it. At the Mall of America in Minneapolis, the largest in the country, after 24 years, they’ve finally got a black Santa. His name is Larry Jefferson, by the way. He seems to be a great guy from all accounts. But his blackness alone has people on guard, when he’s playing a character that hands out toys to children. People don’t even want black folks conceptually handing out freebies to their children in fictional form, that’s how serious it is.

So, you just imagine how this will go once someone who doesn’t fit the bill of person with enough disposable income to be able to readily afford to shop at an Amazon Go snack shop walks in. We can barely get in and out of our homes without someone thinking we’re breaking in to sleep in our own beds and eat our own food.


The fact that they call it the “just walk out” technology is doubly fascinating. The ad is particularly interesting because of the type of people they choose to represent shoppers they presume will be using this service. Because we sure as heck don’t see any black men there. Maybe they’re at the mall, waiting in line with their kids for Santa.

So, who will be the star of Space Jam 2?

We thought it was LeBron James, but there’s also Blake Griffin

4:00 PM

So, do we have a controversy in Space Jam land? Because I’m totally confused.

First, it was surmised that the star of Space Jam 2 or whatever it’s going to be called, the sequel to the 1996 film that grossed over $230 million in the box office and was a cultural touchstone between cartoons and sports that we hadn’t seen since Bugs Bunny was striking out the side on one pitch, would be none other than LeBron James. This, of course, made a ton of sense. Nike guy, international superstar, etc.

But then Michael Jordan said that he wanted Blake Griffin to be the guy. This didn’t make any particular waves because it was just one man’s opinion, albeit the most important person in the original production. He actually told a basketball camp full of people that he preferred Griffin. To be fair, this is not a bad pick. But to sort of publicly take what amounts to an anti-LeBron stance was a tad odd, but that’s it. It’s just a cartoon.

Then this commercial dropped this morning. The new Space Jam 20th anniversary Air Jordans are coming out in a couple of days, so Foot Locker’s got a new ad out. Who does it star? Blake Griffin and Jimmy Butler. This is the closest thing we’ve seen to an official announcement that Griffin will not only be in the movie, but will be playing a significant role. We realize that James was a bit busy with winning an NBA title, but still.

If we’re being honest, it wasn’t until this commercial that it occurred to me this role is way better for Griffin than James. On some level, this is beneath James. But it is very much so in Griffin’s wheelhouse and that’s obvious based on the few seconds he’s on screen in this 90-second clip. The Los Angeles Clippers forward is funny. While James certainly has his comedic chops, I guess maybe there’s just a part of me that wants to see Griffin get this shot. Mainly, we just want to see his brother, Taylor Griffin, find his way into this movie as some sort of long-lost villain from Griffin’s past.

The only real question here anyway is who’s going to be on the soundtrack, because that’s going to be harder to live up to than the first actual movie.

Will there finally be a Marvin Gaye biopic?

Jamie Foxx is the latest to produce a limited series about the artist

1:00 PMWhat’s Going On is the name of Marvin Gaye’s 11th studio album, but also an apt question for the situation regarding a production about the legendary musician’s life. Now, it appears that responsibility has fallen to Jamie Foxx. According to The Hollywood Reporter, it will be a limited-edition series that has yet to find a distribution deal.

In an era in which biopics are all the rage in an attempt to cash in on the nostalgia crowd, a Gaye movie or series would likely be quite popular, never mind a needed story for those who aren’t particularly familiar with his life and career. The tale of his demise is well-documented. Shot and killed by his father in his own home, as tragic as it was, sounds like something out of a movie.

[Justin Tinsley: How Marvin Gaye’s NFL tryout changed his career]

Of course, over the years, quite a few attempts have been made to put this story on the big screen. None have been authorized by the family (see above) until this latest development with Foxx. Typically, Marvin Gaye III has found himself in court over his father’s work. You might recall the situation with the song Blurred Lines and that whole fallout. To the casual observer, it was arguable that his family had become excessively obsessive keepers of a legacy that most people had established in their own minds, anyway.

But, that’s how these things work. We’ve seen what happens when someone dies and whomever’s in charge of the estate, reputation, image or whatever is either too splintered, too distracted or too greedy to responsibly handle what is an image, or a bank account, in perpetuity. James Brown and Martin Luther King Jr. come to mind. It’s really no different from normal families, except it takes place in public.

Which brings us to the most important portion of the news regarding this latest project about Gaye’s life. By tackling this as a series, from a storytelling standpoint, you’re not limited to the same constraints as a movie. It’s not just about Los Angeles and Detroit. He grew up in Washington, D.C., a clearly formative time in his life. Yet, with Berry Gordy also giving his blessing, you feel like something right might finally be happening with this.

Couple that with Foxx’s level of competence, skill, taste and experience and it’s time to look forward to what may be one of the better biopics in a while. No word on Chadwick Bozeman’s involvement, though.

Daily Dose: 12/1/16

More bad news from Charlotte, North Carolina, where the system is in full effect

12:00 PMYour boy officially got into the holiday spirit Wednesday night, by watching Christmas In Rockefeller Center on NBC, in which they called The Roots “an iconic R&B group” in the opening, but whatever.

Another police shooting will go unchecked in America. This time, it’s Keith Lamont Scott’s killer, a man named Brentley Vinson, an officer in Charlotte, North Carolina. For a refresher, this is the scenario where police saw a man with a gun and decided that he was a threat, then after a standoff, shot him to death. The district attorney in Mecklenburg County ruled that the officer acted lawfully, which beyond the decision, is precisely the problem. This is absolutely lawful behavior, which is inherently not OK. ABC News has details.

There’s always one gift that completely takes over a year’s gift cycle. Sometimes it’s something for small children, other times it’s something for people a little too old to be playing with certain types of toys. Last year, that toy was the so-called hoverboard, which had half of America making videos of themselves wiping out on said vehicles, much to everyone else’s enjoyment. Then, all of sudden they started exploding and that was the end of that. FiveThirtyEight’s Ritchie King looks at just how injurious last season’s hot item was.

HIV/AIDS is still a joke to many people. Maybe not the government, but you certainly don’t have to go far to hear someone make a snide remark about “The HIV” or something along those lines. But back in the day, it was not only a source of material for standup artists, it also was openly mocked in the White House. Thankfully, those days are over at this point. But it’s worth remembering just how awful coverage of the virus and disease were, as a result of attitudes from elected officials and the health care industry, Harmon Leon writes for VICE.

Haven’t been following Major League Soccer? Welp, the season’s almost over. But Wednesday night in the second leg of the Eastern Conference finals, we got one of the best playoff games the league has seen in quite some time. With two Canadian squads facing off, Toronto and Montreal, it was an interesting twist to a rivalry that has yet to take off the way many thought it might. Either way, Toronto managed to get the win, so the club will host the MLS Cup, where the Reds will face the Seattle Sounders next Saturday. ESPN’s Doug McIntyre has a game report.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If you don’t know who Tomi Lahren is, she’s the blond woman you see on social media all the time making extreme statements about where we are in America. Well, she went on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah on Wednesday night, and let’s just say that it did not go well for her.

Snack Time: Apparently, in the new administration, Donald Trump will have the ability to text every single person in America at once. Somehow, I do not see this ending in a good way for the commander in chief.

Dessert: New Curren$y mixtape is out, if you’re into that. I very much am.

Daily Dose: 11/30/16

Childish Gambino gave us a present

3:30 PMShoutout to Donald Glover one time. On Wednesday at 2:14 a.m., he tweeted this out.


Just a link no explanation. Check it out. I promise you will not be disappointed.

More details on the Ohio State attack are arriving. After the horrifying events that happened Monday in Columbus, there are more details coming to light on the incident. On Tuesday, the Islamic State group claimed that the perpetrator, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, was one of its “soldiers.” ABC News has been gathering more details on the situation.

Parents are arranging for the kidnapping of their child so there is a consumer demand for people to come into their homes and then have them take their child away. These people are essentially “escorting” these kids to places where they then fix their lives and steer them down the right path. Think of the show Beyond Scared Straight, but outside of jail. I hope that explains it. VICE describes more about the world of legal kidnapping.

Is college basketball broken? In this week’s Hot Takedown podcast, FiveThirtyEight sat down with basketball guru Ken Pomeroy. To me, the only way that basketball can be broken is when someone dunks and breaks the rim. I’m not an expert, though. The crew talks about the stats and insights from kenpom.com and tells us about the fate of the sport.

Lamar Jackson not No. 1?! In the early happenings of the season, the Louisville quarterback had such a huge lead in the Heisman race. His stats were unreal and had people trying to give him the trophy before the season ended. With his last couple of performances, it seems like Jackson has driven over a couple of Mario Kart banana peels and red shells in the Heisman race. With all the recent developments, is he still the best player in college football?. Some writers over at ESPN mull this over.

Free Food

Coffee Break: For all those times that you just wanted to watch your show on the Metro. For all those times that your data plan didn’t want to let you be great. For all those times that you didn’t want to pay for airplane Wi-Fi to watch your shows. Netflix has decided to bless us.

Snack Time: Remember Alpha 5 from the Power Rangers? This is him now … feel old yet?

Dessert: Do you like dogs in Christmas sweaters? (Yes. The answer is yes.)