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

Daily Dose: 10/25/16

It’s time to get used to The Association, again

3:25 PMThe NBA starts tonight. The World Series starts tonight. People in Cleveland are excited about both, and this is a good reason to break out one of the best GIFs of all time.

We’re officially down to two weeks in this presidential race. Which means that it likely will only get worse from here. Donald Trump’s camp is scrambling as it becomes increasingly evident on multiple fronts what the GOP presidential candidate is about. On the other end is the email leak that’s exposed Hillary Clinton’s tactics, particularly when it comes to dealing with her opponents. In this case, we find out that she was fully prepared to go “swift boat” on The Donald, literally, ABC News reports. So much for “when they go low, we go high,” I guess.

For the man who’s still in the White House, his farewell tour has been great. South by South Lawn, that tremendous party Friday that had President Barack Obama dancing to Drake, and who knows what’s in store if Clinton actually wins this election. But few things are funnier than watching the president make fun of himself. That he did Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, taking part in the “Mean Tweets” segment for the second time. Most of the jokes are funny, but the kicker is sublime. Check it out.

D.R.A.M. has always been cool to me. Why? Because he makes music about being happy, which in turn makes me happy. But his origin story is a fun one, too. Let’s just say, that basically, he had no intention of being anything other than an artist and now that he’s gotten his chance, he’s not going to be a jerk about it. He’s held all sorts of odd jobs, and even at this point as just a two-hit wonder is now working with Rick Rubin. Last year, he was sleeping on his cousin’s couch. Check out VICE‘s “Autobiographies” series on the Virginia native.

This NBA season is going to be incredible. There are so many great storylines. LeBron James and the Cavs trying to repeat. The Eastern Conference actually looking decent. The Warriors picking up Kevin Durant — a situation that adds a whole other element by signaling the breakout year for Russell Westbrook in so many ways. This doesn’t even get into social justice. I thoroughly think this will be the best year the league has seen in the better part of a decade. Here’s a preview.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Charles Barkley has a new show coming out soon, all about race, and if nothing else, it promises to be provocative at the very least. Who knows what the program will actually entail, but he’ll be talking about race. Here’s the trailer.

Snack Time: Drake said something very foul about Kid Cudi on a song he released this week, making fun of his mental condition, which ultimately is not why any of us are in this game. Rap battles aren’t what they used to be.

Dessert: I didn’t know I liked animated shorts about NBA teams, until I saw this one.

Daily Dose: 10/24/16

Kanye West might boycott the Grammy Awards

2:45 PMWhat’s up, gang? Hope everyone had a good weekend. We’re in full fall mode finally here on the East Coast, which is all right by me.

With all the craziness that has been the presidential race, it’s easy to forget about the down-ballot races. If we’re being honest, in terms of what genuinely affects your life, the votes you cast for the people who aren’t going to be in the White House anytime soon are probably more important than the top of the ticket. Which ultimately is the real issue for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Neither of them is particularly popular outside of themselves, so how they’re handling the battle for Congress is certainly worth looking at, too.

As a child, I spent countless hours playing Super Mario Brothers. My cousin Marc was better than me at the game, but I was determined to see all the levels (boards) and all the characters, so I didn’t like warping to get ahead in the game. Of course now, there is an entire world of people who play 8-bit games simply to race through each level as fast as possible. So, when I first watched this video of a guy beating the game in less than five minutes, I wasn’t sure what to think. FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder breaks down what this world is all about.

Kanye West is having a rough couple of weeks. First, he decided to yell about Jay Z while onstage at a concert, airing his family business to the entire world, which was not only awkward, but also rather sad. In addition, with the Grammys coming up, he’s now saying that if Frank Ocean isn’t nominated for anything, then he won’t be attending the event. Ocean missed the deadline to submit, so has yet to be named eligible for a nod. ABC News has the details on Yeezy’s latest cause.

Last weekend produced one of the worst NFL Sundays in a long time. There was an early game from London that was terrible, the 1 p.m. games were a mess and we ended with possibly the most awful game in the history of Sunday Night Football, a touchdown-free affair that ended in a tie. Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals missed field goals that could have won the game, which is just embarrassing on multiple levels. That aside, ESPN’s Ian O’Connor thinks that if there was any winner, it was the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If you didn’t know, it was very lit at the White House this weekend. It was the final musical event for the first family, and though you technically weren’t supposed to have phones in the building, it appears that Usher managed to get his in, no problem. So, now you can watch the president dance to Drake’s Hotline Bling.

Snack Time: If you’re wondering where the Trump campaign is these days, people are yelling things at rallies that are quite literally taking us back to the days of the Nazis.

Dessert: Saturday Night Live continues to kill it this election season.

Daily Dose: 10/21/16

Josh Brown will not be traveling to London with the New York Giants

2:37 PMSo, Twitter’s been down for a decent part of the morning, creating a major hole in my life, if I’m being honest. Alas.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship, you’ve been to Ikea. You’ve argued over chairs, cursed at the kids running amok, and spent way more than you ever thought you would on candlesticks that go just right with that stupid thing you’ve been keeping in your living room since college, for no real reason other than it’s got a good story connected to it. But, how is it that Ikea makes money? The company sells a million things at a million prices and everything is available all over the internet-connected world. FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder explains the weird economics of Ikea.

The NFL has a huge problem on its hands with the Josh Brown situation. The New York Giants kicker was an admitted and known spousal abuser and the team signed him anyway, keeping all of the details of his personal relationship effectively secret. This matters because the league’s domestic abuse policy was clearly violated, but Brown was never suspended. Even crazier is that, for whatever reason, the Giants haven’t cut him, but he won’t be traveling with the team to London this weekend. Total mess.

Jail is a dehumanizing experience on many levels. And prison is a whole other level of subhumanity, constructed under the guise of reform. I’ve never been to either and don’t hope or plan to go in my lifetime. As a black man who comes from where I do, it’ll be an accomplishment if I achieve that goal. One of the things that being incarcerated often does is take away your ability to vote. Which, if you think about it, doesn’t make a whole ton of sense. Check out this story about a former inmate voting for the first time.

For the record, Major League II is a funnier movie than Major League. That being said, it’s worth noting that the final scene in the former is one that, if on television, I will watch every single time, no questions asked. Mainly because it features an old school radio bit with a stadium sound team employee running to grab what was known as a cart to play Wild Thing’s music after he surprisingly reboots his old persona in a playoff game. There were people who wanted to see Charlie Sheen throw out a World Series first pitch, in character. Not happening.

Free Food

Coffee Break: There are media mergers and then there are MEDIA MERGERS. If this deal with AT&T and Time Warner goes through, we’ll be looking at one more powerhouse conglomerate that will control far more things than you might realize. Alas, such is the way of the world these days.

Snack Time: If you don’t know, Fat Joe has been a crazy sneakerhead for decades. He’s the guy that made licking the soles of new sneaker a thing. Anyway, he’s opening a shoe store in New York City, and it’s guaranteed to be live.

Dessert: New Chance video. Happy weekend, kiddos.

Kanye West is upset with Jay Z

And it started with a dispute over streaming music platforms

2:00 PMSo, this is awkward. Kanye West and Jay Z are apparently in a fight, and Yeezy is airing dirty laundry publicly. So-called rap battles usually involve some level of machismo, maybe someone’s girl or a couple of lyrics that one particular artist took offense to. But this feud is one that can basically only happen between these two music titans. Music-streaming services and play dates appear to be at the center of this one.

But let’s just consider for a second the possibility that this goes full nuclear. The Kardashian-West clan vs. the Knowles-Carter clan? That’s a battle that could affect the future of our pop culture universe for the rest of our lifetimes. Forget going after a guy over using a ghostwriter, West is talking about people’s children on stage. This is clearly well beyond an intrasquad beef. West is basically yelling at his neighbor in the elementary school parking lot in full view of the teachers and the kids.

OK, so a music platform beef between Tidal and Apple is affecting the way that West can do his shows. This is a legitimate concern. West is all about his live shows, it’s a huge part of his identity and his creative process. We all know what happens when that get interrupted. But calling out Jay Z is a whole other matter. These two have been partners in crime, at least in our heads, for some time. Jay Z obviously put Ye on, but Yeezy is also arguably a more influential pop culture persona, on some level, at this point.

When the two made Watch The Throne, pretty much the best buddy duo rap album ever, you felt like they were going to ascend to the hip-hop heavens together someday. The day that the Otis video dropped was one of the happiest days of my life, if only because we got to watch those two look so genuinely into their friendship.

The fact that West has a real concern about how much time the two dads’ families are spending together is very intense. I don’t pretend to know what these people do with their kids when the cameras aren’t on, but obviously West is not happy about it. Check out this rant, in which he refers to the recent incident in which his wife, Kim Kardashian, was robbed in Paris.

There’s an element of this that’s rather sad. West is an emotional guy and him expressing himself in such a vulnerable manner onstage is basically what he does. It’s probably also why Jay Z is not in the business of co-mingling family business. We’re certainly not rooting for people to dislike each other, and on some level, watching these two break up would be sad. But if this feud is genuine and not just a temporarily petty rant from West, the fallout could be nuclear.

Maybe we can get Aziz Ansari to intervene.

Derrick Rose and friends found not liable in gang rape case

Another victory for toxic masculinity, rape culture and patriarchy

5:30 PM“Do you have an understanding as to the word consent?”

“No. But can you tell me?”

Those were the words of New York Knicks point guard Derrick Rose when he was asked by lawyers in a June 17 deposition about the sexual assault case involving him, two friends and an ex-girlfriend. On Wednesday, Rose and company were found not liable of rape charges by a Los Angeles jury, one that featured two men and six women. The decision was another victory for toxic masculinity, rape culture and patriarchy. Why? Let’s explain.

At the most basic level, Rose and his lawyers went to the most basic of defenses to get their client cleared. All of this was done openly, playing their man card, which historically, fundamentally and in practice is designed to set a higher burden of proof on women to prove they were raped. On a basic level, that is reason for pause from a decent person’s standpoint.

Off the break, Team Rose was trying to not only out the accuser’s identity, but also paint her somehow as a sexually deviant person, another notion rooted in basic forms of misogyny that is often applied in sexual assault cases as a way of rationalizing awful behavior by men. It’s the courtroom version of “she was asking for it.”

“Of special note, plaintiff is publicly portraying herself as sexual,” lawyers argued in pretrial meetings. “The production includes photos from plaintiff’s Instagram account that are sexual in nature. In these images, plaintiff is dressed in provocative attire, is in sexually suggestive poses and is in photographs indicating that she engages in sexually charged encounters with more than one man at a time. Plaintiff’s use of Twitter and other forms of social media further belies her apparent desire for anonymity.”

This is not OK on multiple levels. Putting aside the specificity of Rose and the plaintiff right now, this has nothing to do with consent. No. 1, consent can be given or taken at any time, no matter one’s history. Period. Point being, going into this ordeal legally, Rose’s lawyers were relying on one of the biggest fallacies of rape as a way to discredit the claims. The judge immediately called B.S. on that.

More importantly of note during the deposition, Rose made a statement so shocking that it cut right to the heart of what patriarchy is all about. Unless otherwise stated, the desires of a man trump (pun intended) any civil, personal or physical rights of a woman. It should be noted that a toxicologist estimated her blood alcohol content was 0.20, which is more than double the legal limit. Follow this exchange:

Q: So they just said, ‘Hey, it’s the middle of the night. Let’s go over to plaintiff’s house’ and they never gave you a reason why they wanted to go over there?’

Rose: No, but we men. You can assume.

Q: I’m sorry?

Rose: I said we men. You can assume. Like we leaving to go over to someone’s house at 1 a.m., there’s nothing to talk about.

Q: All right. Is there  —  within what you just reviewed in those text messages — is there anything within them that would lead you to believe that plaintiff wanted to have sex with you and the other two defendants on Aug. 26, 2013?

Rose: No.

What Rose is saying is that up until the very point of actual sexual contact, all consent is presumed, assumed and given. This is rape culture. The notion that unless otherwise stated, sex is always an option on the table. It is not an opt in for you to have access to a woman’s body, she must opt out. The fact that he can’t seem to even wrap his head around that notion is precisely the kind of mindset created by toxic masculinity.

During the trial, Rose took that even further, saying that he didn’t actually think he’d done anything wrong in this situation. Which, again, is not how consent works, but is how courtrooms allow men to portray things in their favor to put a higher threshold on women to prove the truth. This is where the larger matter moves away from Rose specifically and gets into the larger problem. Never mind the fact that the NBA is apparently teaching rookies to keep used condoms.

“I took [the] claim very seriously, but a couple of things stood out immediately. The first was she didn’t go to the police. She chose to sue Rose. The second was that she waited two years to do so,” Robert Littal at BlackSportsOnline.com wrote. “I can understand that with any traumatic event it may take time to become strong enough to speak out on it, but if someone raped you and you truly wanted them to pay for their crimes, why wouldn’t you want them to be in jail?”

Littal, who reports frequently on athletes’ sex lives, went on to report that the plaintiff needed the money and thus concocted a wild story as a way to potentially draw a settlement out of Rose to make the story go away. Which, even if true, doesn’t hold water. The rule of law does not always make right, and in this case, the details of whether or not this woman was as honest as George Washington became more important than making a determination based on what both sides admitted happened.

Rose didn’t know what consent was. She was too drunk to give consent. He found a way into her home and had sex with her along with his friends. This. Was. All. Admitted. In. Court. So why did Rose walk free? In short, he’s a man. Eventually the jury felt that, because her story, she lied about all the details.

According to Deadspin: The jury initially declined to speak to reporters, but later two jurors —identifying themselves by first name only — agreed to. Jared said Jane Doe “didn’t do any of the steps to prove her own case” and “nothing added up to a correct statement.” Jared felt like Doe “was playing us,” and he believed witness Gabriel Chavez, who testified that Doe was a liar. In contrast, Jared said Rose and his friends seemed “genuine” and “honest.”

For sexual assault victims, these must be the most triggering of cases. Ones in which because a woman might not have had the instant wherewithal to follow every specific step necessary to prove something in court where the rules are stacked against her — not only does that suddenly mean it didn’t happen, but she’s also suddenly a terrible person for not being able to figure it out on her own.

After the civil trial ended, Rose posed for pictures with jurors. The judge even wished him well, saying good luck to him with the Knicks, except when they play the Los Angeles Lakers.

The specific details of Rose’s case here were obviously important to this trial. In many ways, this whole situation from a larger standpoint isn’t even about him specifically as a bad guy. If he legit thinks she lied to extort him, fair enough. If she says she was violated, understandable.

But the tactics, method and manner of the proceedings here are important. This could have been anyone. The justice system, the same one which finds way to exonerate police officers for killing unarmed citizens, isn’t suddenly fool-proof for sexual assault.

A woman who believes she was raped confronted her accusers. The accused openly admit what they did, under the guise that if she can’t prove it was wrong, then it shouldn’t matter at all. Jury sides with men. Toxic masculinity, rape culture and patriarchy. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Daily Dose: 10/20/16

At long last, the presidential debates are finally over

12:30 PMToday’s my mom’s birthday and I got to have dinner with her Wednesday, which was very fun. Happy birthday, Ma. Also, I did a podcast with my friend Chris Cillizza. It’s a quiz show. Give it a listen to hear me try to be smart.

Wednesday night’s debate didn’t disappoint, whatsoever. The final showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was perhaps the most revealing of all three, with the Democratic presidential nominee showing why 30 years of experience in public life is actually an advantage when it comes to politics. Who knew? UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center might prove to be the place where the Trump election truly died, when he wouldn’t even say if he’d accept the results if he lost. Here’s the top seven moments from Wednesday’s affair.

I have so much sympathy for mail workers. Particularly those with the U.S. Postal Service. I remember the first time I truly understood the concept of what we once rather crudely referred to as “going postal.” It was then that I realized that said job is probably one of the most psychologically taxing things you could ever spend your time doing. The basic reason being: The mail never stops. This week, a mail carrier in Georgia was videotaped dumping piles of letters into the woods. Very sad.

“You’re tall, you must play basketball.” Big dudes all over the globe have been dealing with that phrase forever, because, in many ways it makes sense. The rim is 10 feet tall, so if you are larger, by simple virtue of physics, you are likely to be better than a short person at putting the ball in the hole, which is the goal. Alas, such is not always the case, and it also doesn’t mean that all NBA rosters are filled with the tallest people possible. But, that being said, which team does have the tallest roster? FiveThirtyEight’s Patrick Radford investigates.

If the Cleveland Indians win the World Series, they should give LeBron James a ring. Ever since the King brought home a championship, it has felt like Cleveland has been able to shake that crappy loser feeling and people have legitimately believed in the Tribe. On Wednesday night, the Indians handled the Blue Jays, in Toronto no less, to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1997. That was a heartbreak year by the way for them. Just Google Jose Mesa, who my Cleveland buddy Paul likes to call Joe Table. Anyway, your American League pennant winner is now decided.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Kanye West said a while back that he’s looking to run for president in 2020, and the way this election is going doesn’t make that seem particularly ridiculous. Guess who else might be getting into the ring? Waka Flocka Flame. And guess who his running mate is? Former pro wrestler Ric Flair. Obviously.

Snack Time: Have you ever wanted to sit around with a couple dozen of your closest friends and listen to orchestral music? No? You heathen. Anyway, next time I have a party, best believe I’m calling these folks to get it poppin’.

Dessert: Behold, the worst idea ever.