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

Daily Dose: 9/26/16

The big night is finally here

1:40 PMOn Friday, I had the pleasure of going to The White House for the first time in my life. As it turned out, it was quite the day to be there, between the band and the guest list. What a weekend it was.

Monday night’s the night. We’ll finally get to see Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump face off in a debate, and it promises to be wild. They’ll be at Hofstra University, sort of home turf for both candidates, who’ve spent quite a bit of time in New York, obviously. Personally, I think this could be a royal disaster for Trump, who doesn’t necessarily do well with facts and respectful exchanges of ideas. NBC’s Lester Holt will moderate. Here are five things to watch for Monday at 9 p.m.

Speaking of presidents, there’s still the one in office. For all of the criticism President Barack Obama has received, there are certain things that he has actually accomplished, aside from just reelection and being the coolest resident of the White House, ever. As it turns out, he’s been decently effective at ending one of this country’s largest and most difficult problems: income inequality. FiveThirtyEight’s Ben Casselman explains.

When Jon Stewart left The Daily Show, it left a huge hole in the late-night television world. Comedy Central took the opportunity to hire a comedian of color, specifically South African Trevor Noah. He was never going to fill Stewart’s shoes in a day, a month, or even a year, but the way the program has evolved is interesting. Of course, Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show was canceled, but Noah’s bringing all the blackness. VICE profiled the late-night star.

Paul Pierce is going to play one more season in the NBA. Here’s the thing about Pierce: Ever since he got into the NBA, he was a confident player who knew what he could do. It took him a while to really get the respect he deserved among fans, but when people realized, it was on. It’s tough to see him announce his retirement tour, because he’s not a guy who’s going to be getting a ton of minutes, anyway. It’ll be his 19th season and his last.

Free Food

Coffee Break: No. 1, I had no idea that Pharrell was married. No. 2, I had no clue that he had children. No. 3, I have also learned that his kid’s name is Rocket, which is perfectly tremendous. Now, the family is expecting a new addition. Please get them a reality show.

Snack Time: Police in Danville, Virginia, are getting rather brazen with how they choose to do their jobs. Check out these photos of squad cars putting their hoods up to block dashcams.

Dessert: If you’ve got $300,000 lying around, you might want to bid on this insane vinyl collection.

President Obama invites the stars to toast museum opening

Tennessee State University’s band performed on the South Lawn to kick off the event

12:00 PMBy the time President Barack Obama took to the podium Friday, the White House floor had been studded with more black stars than ever. Samuel L. Jackson had accidentally photobombed a convo between Kobe Bryant and Rep. John Lewis. Dick Gregory had made his rounds, along with Harry Belafonte. Oprah and Gayle King had graced the room, and Phylicia Rashad had displayed her regal presence. Bob Johnson had done a little glad-handing and Fonzworth Bentley proved why he still is one of the best dressed men in America with his cream jacket-eggplant tie combo. David Adjaye had fielded quite a few compliments for his design work and Jesse Jackson had been moving around so much that he had to take respite on a baby stroller for a bit.

“This is easily the blackest I’ve ever seen this place,” DeRay McKesson joked, in town for a bit before heading to Charlotte, North Carolina. “I love it.”

The afternoon reception at the White House to commemorate the opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall was a celebration of blackness that’s rarely been inside the walls of the presidential edifice built by slaves. So much so that the Obamas invited Tennessee State University’s Aristocrat of Bands to play on the lawn to kick things off.

Tennessee State is no stranger to big stages. But I doubt we’ll ever see an HBCU’s band transition from Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together to Chance The Rapper’s No Problem and on into Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice just a half-hour or so after a White House press briefing ended across the way.


The day before, Obama and the first lady sat down with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts after touring the new museum ahead of its opening. On Friday at the White House, he talked about how important the facility was, as a landmark and a storytelling tool. He noted the team effort it was to get this put together over the years. But while all that black excellence occupied that room, the volatile situations unfolding across the country were not forgotten.

“The timing of this is fascinating,” Obama said. “Because in so many ways, it is the best of times. But in many ways, these are also troubled times. History doesn’t always move in a straight line. And without vigilance, we can go backwards as well as forward. And so part of the reason that I’m so happy the museum is opening this weekend is because it allows all of us as Americans to put our current circumstances in a historical context.”

Earlier this week, the officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher was charged with first-degree manslaughter. On Friday, a video shot by the wife of Keith Lamont Scott was released, unfurling a host of new questions. The president said he hopes the museum can help people in a tangible way.

“My hope is that, as people are seeing what’s happened in Tulsa or Charlotte on television, and perhaps are less
familiar with not only the history of the African-American experience, but also how recent some of these challenges have been, upon visiting the museum, may step back and say, ‘I understand. I sympathize. I empathize,’ ” Obama said. “I can see why folks might feel angry and I want to be part of the solution as opposed to resisting change …

“When I imagine children — white, black, Latino, Asian, Native American — wandering through that museum and sitting at that lunch counter and imagining what it would be like to stand on that auction block, and then also looking at Shaq’s shoes and Chuck Berry’s red Cadillac, my hope is that this complicated, difficult, sometimes harrowing, but I believe ultimately triumphant story will help us talk to each other, and more important, listen to each other, and even more important, see each other and recognize the common humanity that makes America what it is.”

Video released of Keith Lamont Scott shooting

The 43-year-old victim’s wife captured it on her cellphone

3:24 PMIn the wake of the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday — and the way the city erupted as a result — Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts called for video footage of the killing to be released. “I do believe the video should be released,” Roberts said at a news conference Friday morning. “The question is on the timing.”

That time came later Friday, when NBC News released an exclusive video of Scott’s final moments. Unlike the footage released earlier this week in the case of the police shooting of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, this one did not come from a Dashcam or police helicopter.

The video was taken by Scott’s wife, Rakeiya Scott, on her cellphone, as she watched her husband be killed.

WARNING: This video contains graphic content and may be upsetting to some viewers.

[protected-iframe id=”570ea2ba5e259f0ca2702a8e3e7d098e-84028368-104124100″ info=”http://www.nbcnews.com/widget/video-embed/771901507743″ ]

Rakeiya Scott’s video does not show an actual view of Scott being killed. In it, however, you can hear her both pleading to her husband to comply with law enforcement and begging the police not to harm him. “He has a T.B.I.,” she says, an abbreviation for “traumatic brain injury.” Then, you hear four gunshots ring and her angrily scream, “Did you shoot him! Did you shoot him! Did you shoot him! He better not be f—— dead! He better not be f—— dead! … He better be alive!”

Remember, this video alone is certainly not enough to secure a conviction in the death of Scott. As Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney noted at Friday’s news conference, video evidence does not establish probable cause.

And while we wait for official police footage of Scott’s killing to be released, it’s not surprising that the first video came from the cellphone of Scott’s wife. We’ve seen it before. Because at the sight of police, people take out their mobile devices and begin to document, fearing the worst that could happen. What does that tell you about the current state of community-police relations in this country?

Daily Dose: 9/23/16

Denzel Washington has a new movie out

2:00 PMI’m heading to the White House to cover something this afternoon. I was born and raised in Washington, D.C., and have never set foot on the grounds even once. I am rather nervous, to say the least.

We’re at the point where the president needs to address the nation again. With our first presidential debate in the backdrop coming Monday, the situations in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Charlotte, North Carolina, mean that President Barack Obama needs to speak. This week, he visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opens Saturday. There, he talked to Good Morning America‘s Robin Roberts about a wide range of things, including Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s chances at the Oval Office and our country’s legacy of lawful segregation. Check out the interview here.

Speaking of brutality, if you haven’t seen the video of a girl being pepper-sprayed by police, you need to. The situation unfolded in Hagerstown, Maryland, where police decided that a 15-year-old girl who hit a car with her bike needed to be subdued, pepper-sprayed and arrested. I don’t know what’s going on in Hagerstown, but apparently the teens are real menaces, tearing up the town and upsetting apple carts. In all seriousness, this situation is absurd. The girl, who was charged with assault and disorderly conduct, is now speaking out.

My dad sees every single Denzel Washington movie ever made. He goes to the theater, often by himself, buys a ticket and watches the movie. It doesn’t matter how good, bad or ugly it looks, he’s a devoted fan. So, since there’s a new movie out with him in it, you can bet my dad will be in the theater. At this point, Pops talks about nearly everything in a “something a Denzel character once did” context. Anyway, Washington’s range is strong, but specific. FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey analyzes the four types of Denzel movies.

Steve Clevenger is not a fan of Black Lives Matter. Not familiar with that name? Well, he’s a backup catcher for the Seattle Mariners who grew up “in the streets of Baltimore,” as he puts it. He also decided that Thursday night would be a good time to get on Twitter and mock the protestors in Charlotte, who are upset about the death of Keith Lamont Scott. He threw in the old “lock ’em up in a cage” take just for good measure, and now he’s suspended for the rest of the season. Can’t imagine a 30-year-old journeyman like him has much place in the bigs at this point.

Free Food

Coffee Break: There are some headlines that are just too good to be true. “Jaden Smith Shared the Gospel of Boxed Water on an Eco-Friendly Field Trip. His dad, Will Smith, played chaperone” is definitely one of them. I can’t even imagine what being around that family is like, on so many levels. This little excursion sounds like it was incredible.

Snack Time: Around these parts, we love Nicole Byer. I first became a fan of her work on Girl Code, but now she’s got her own show and is flourishing. Check out this profile of the MTV star.

Dessert: This, friends, is why editorial cartoons exist.


Let’s talk about The Weeknd

He cut his hair, his new song is fire and we ain’t ready

5:35 PMAbęl Makkonen Tesfaye has a new song out and it’s fire. His new album Starboy comes out Nov. 25, but more importantly, he cut his hair. The look fell somewhere between signature and iconic on the importance scale and for him to abandon it at the peak of his powers is nothing short of a bold move.

In the past five years, The Weeknd has gone from a mixtape mystery man to an instantly recognizable international superstar. His dreads were so visually specific to him that even if you only saw a silhouette, you’d know it was him. Now, it’s gone and he’s showing himself off to the world. He also apparently wiped his Instagram, which could mean any number of things, but we’re going to just wildly speculate that he’s trying to put something in his life behind him.



The larger question here is: Does he lose some star power overall from this move? Like it or not — because of not only the politics of black hair, but also because it was so different from anyone we typically see in the limelight — his music speaks for itself, and paired with the look, he was a bona fide rock star.

He hinted at this change recently in VMAN magazine, when he did an entire photo shoot with a hoody on. In the interview, he talked about his motivations on the new album. If we’re guessing, after his rather high-profile relationship with Bella Hadid went south, he needed a reset. If his song Starboy is any indication of where his head is, maybe he just wanted to be able to walk down the street without people bothering him, again. A hairstyle that the world can identify from a mile away doesn’t exactly allow for that.

We’ll miss the hair, but we’ll also gladly take another fire album.

Daily Dose: 9/22/16

Charlotte may go into lockdown tonight

1:20 PMI participated in the National Press Club’s Press vs. Politicians Spelling Bee on Wednesday night. The rules were, if you get two wrong, you’re out. Last year, I got third place. This year, I had a tad more fun with it.

Things aren’t getting any better in Charlotte. Protests on Wednesday night turned violent and there are all sorts of questions about what’s going to happen next in North Carolina. There’s talk of the National Guard, but police say they don’t plan to release video of the shooting of Keith Scott. Alas, buildings were looted, fires were set, and a protester was shot with a rubber bullet. Now, the mayor is considering implementing a curfew for the city. ABC News reports on the latest.

Willie Cauley-Stein is down for his squad. The Sacramento Kings center who went to Kentucky is from a small town in Kansas. He grew up with his grandparents and cousins, so he grew accustomed to having people around. But by the time he got to high school, his whole life changed. In order to pursue his dreams of being a basketball player, he had to leave everything behind. Now, as the sixth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft, he’s making an impact on the league. VICE Sports went behind the scenes with Cauley-Stein on his life and journey.

We can all agree that health insurance is a good thing, right? Paying out of pocket for medical expenses is a very easy way to go straight to the poor house for lack of a better term, so being insured is critical. Of course, the battle to get a health care system installed in the country was an epic one, with people on both sides of the aisle embarrassing themselves politically. More importantly, however, is the simple fact that it’s worked. FiveThirtyEight’s Anna Maria Barry-Jester and Ben Casselman report that more people have insurance now.

Richard Sherman is not here for your games. On Wednesday, instead of taking questions about the Seattle Seahawks’ next game against the San Francisco 49ers, he talked at length about the fact that many people are losing sight of what the actual problems are in America by focusing too much on what 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick or any other player is or isn’t doing during the national anthem. Sherman, obviously a man who has no problem speaking his mind, then just left after his statement. ESPN’s Sheil Kapadia reports.

Free Food

Coffee Break: After the disaster that was the situation in Brazil regarding the Olympics, one city has decided, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Rome pulled out of the race for the 2024 Summer Games and the major even went so far as to call his city’s bid for the Olympiad “irresponsible.” Alrighty, then.

Snack Time: We all know Between Two Ferns, the show with Zach Galifianakis acting awkward around famous people. This time, he had Democratic presidential Hillary Clinton on and it was rather funny painful.

Dessert: There’s new Kaytranada out and it’s right on time for this hectic week.

Colin Kaepernick covers ‘TIME’ magazine

His protest is officially a national discussion point

12:03 PMkaepernicktime

Say what you want about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s method of protest, it’s certainly been effective. He’s got kids as young as middle schoolers taking knees during the national anthem. He’s pledged to give $100,000 a month to community charities and has gotten people such as Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman to walk out of news conferences due to frustration with how black people are treated by police. Retired NFL running back Marshawn Lynch made his point on national television, too.

Now, Kaepernick is on the cover of the October issue of TIME magazine. My man is all the way out here. While Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is making statements in Wingdings on Instagram, as people are getting killed in his very city, Kaepernick is openly discussing the concept dying for the cause and his preparation for said potential. Per his own words, he’s ready to die.

“To me, if something like that were to happen, you’ve proved my point and it’ll be loud and clear to everyone why it happened. And that would move this movement forward at a greater speed than what it is even now,” he said. Now, we’re waiting to see what the NBA is going to do once its season starts. It’s a real concern for league commissioner Adam Silver.

Kaepernick has shaken up the NFL with his protest. He’s made the act of just wearing his jersey an act of defiance. He’s used the biggest tool the league has — the shield — and made it a symbol of demonstration. Teenagers are getting sent home from work, just for wearing his jersey. He’s weaponized his work outfit for good. The impact of this man’s actions are in no way misguided or unheard of at this point. People are still getting killed, people are still fed up, and he’s still kneeling.

Without playing a down this season, he’s become the most impactful backup the league has ever seen.

Shawty Lo dies in car accident

Two others were hurt in the vehicle the Atlanta rapper was driving

4:35 PMIf you were anywhere near a dance floor in 2007, you are familiar with Shawty Lo’s Dey Know. Perhaps the best actual club banger of the “snap” era of Atlanta hip-hop, the man behind the song is dead, after a car crash in Fulton County. Née Carlos Walker, he was 40. He has been remembered all day around the hip-hop world by fans and contemporaries.

Details of the incident are rather brutal. According to The Associated Press, the car flipped and hit several trees before Walker was ejected from the vehicle, which then burst into flames. Two other women who were passengers escaped the wreckage. On Tuesday night, he had been posting pictures on social media from the Atlanta gentlemen’s club, Blue Flame.

Shawty Lo was a premier example of how to make it in a certain era of hip-hop without a ton of hit records. Dey Know was so much of a heat rock that it had a remix that was arguably a better song. It also went certified gold. That beat, produced by Balis Beats, is certainly one of the more memorable of its time.

In 2012, he was supposed to star in a show called All My Babies’ Mamas on the Oxygen network, highlighting his life with his 11 children, and their 10 mothers. At the time, many panned it as stereotypical and offensive. I believe that only one episode aired before the show was canceled, but from what I recall, it was actually far less ridiculous that the premise assumed. I wrote as much at the time. Walker, who happened to live in fellow Atlanta rapper T.I.’s neighborhood, was a good dad.


As an original member of rap group D4L and the founder of D4L Entertainment, Shawty Lo was a major player on the Atlanta scene. And his raspy drawl made his voice instantly recognizable on any track that he likely had all your favorite artists making guest appearances on. When it comes to the narrative of rappers who define the evolution and the importance of what the Atlanta sound is, Shawty Lo sits firmly on that timeline.

Check out XXL‘s list of his 20 greatest songs. R.I.P. Shawty Lo.

Daily Dose: 9/21/16

Don King is back stumping for his old pal Donald Trump

2:18 PMI made an appearance on Outside The Lines yesterday to talk about Colin Kaepernick and how far his protest efforts have gone from an effectiveness standpoint. I’d say pretty dang far.

Don King has been a professional buffoon for as long as I’ve been alive. The former boxing promoter who is a proud Republican loves all microphones, which sometimes gets him into trouble. Let’s take today for example, when he decided he’d speak at a Donald Trump function. King being King, he got on stage an promptly dropped an N-bomb, which in some regards is really hilarious and in others is extremely unfortunate. Anyway, he said a lot of other really wild stuff, if you want to hear it. He’s still rocking that jacket, too. ABC News has the details.

Every time another black person gets shot and killed by police, you often hear people countering with “what about Chicago?!” Hundreds of people die there every year as a result of gun violence, so for people trying to bury their heads in the sand about the real problems in other parts of this country, it’s an easy way out of an important discussion. Now, the city that’s known for Michael Jordan’s titles is making moves on the law enforcement front. They’re hiring nearly a thousand more officers. ABC News reports.

There’s a presidential debate next week, and it’s going to be a huge deal. To be honest, I can barely visualize a scenario in which Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are actually the lone two people on a stage, discussing something in a decent manner. I fully believe that these things are all going to go completely sideways and Trump won’t be able to help himself when it comes to lobbing baseless insults. As for who wins and loses these things, so to speak, FiveThirtyEight wonders what that even means.

The beef between Madison Bumgarner and Yasiel Puig is tremendous. MadBum is the kind of crotchety dude who thinks the game needs to be played a certain way and is willing to come to blows over these so-called codes. Puig could not care less about that kind of old-school foolishness and is here for all of the bat flips his heart can supply. They ran across each other in their last series, and now Puig’s got jokes. He sent Madison a T-shirt saying “#DONTLOOKATME,” mimicking what Bumgarner said to him. ESPN’s Doug Padilla reports.

Free Food

Coffee Break: David Simon, creator of The Wire, decided that he wanted to make fun of Sean Hannity on Twitter. In doing so, he decided he wanted to use the N-word (With an A, as he’ll gladly let you know). He then proceeded to condescendingly explain to everyone why it was OK for him to do so. Here’s exactly the reason that it was not.

Snack Time: I am looking forward to Luke Cage more than I have a TV series in a long time. And according to my homey David, it’s the blackest thing Marvel has ever done. You can count me in on that, fam.

Dessert: If you’re in D.C. and want to see me try to spell words, you’re in luck.

Charlotte erupts after police-related shooting

Protestors take to streets after Keith Lamont Scott was killed

12:00 PMOn the evening news, none of the TV stations in Charlotte, North Carolina, cut into coverage. By the 11 p.m. shows, it was all they reported on. On Tuesday afternoon, Keith Lamont Scott was shot and killed by Charlotte police while they were searching for a different person, who was wanted on outstanding warrants. The news spread across Facebook after Scott’s daughter went live to tell the world exactly what she thinks about the law enforcement in her town. Warning: explicit language.


That’s two black men in two days, shot and killed by police officers over matters that were unrelated to them. The first was Terrence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma. His name had barely become a trending topic as a hashtag before another one was killed. Scott was 43 years old.

By nightfall, crowds had gathered near where the shooting occurred. They took over the roads and took their protest to Interstate 85. The police broke out the tear gas, then the demonstrators shut down the highway. What’s so depressing about all this is that we now have a basic narrative for everything that happens in these situations. Person gets shot. Mass of people show up in anger. Police attempt to disperse legal gathering. A handful of officers are hurt in the exchange. Twitter takes notice. Law enforcement starts in with smear campaign of victim. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Scott apparently had a gun, which apparently means he’s a threat. It should be noted that North Carolina is an open-carry state. A permit is NOT required to carry a gun openly in the state. Meaning, outside of profiling and assumptions, this person was doing nothing wrong. It was first rumored that Scott was sitting in his car reading a book when the shooting occurred. According to police, getting in and out of his car with a gun in a neighborhood where there *might* be a criminal was a good enough reason to shoot him. It’s unclear if he pointed the gun or not.

To be clear, here’s why that line of reasoning works with a certain element of the public. Let’s just start with the assertion that black people are dangerous. You have to start there, otherwise, nothing makes sense. Then, we move to the concept of a black person carrying a gun. This is where the extrajudicial and judicial meet. Again, it is perfectly legal to carry a gun openly in North Carolina. But, once this black person, with a gun, is not immediately obedient to an officer’s demands, many folks who consider themselves reasonable people think that’s a decent justification for lethal force. Meanwhile, a guy sets off a bomb in the middle of New York City and manages to not get shot to death by the authorities.

The flurry of recent high-profile shooting prompted United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch to address the matter. “These tragic incidents have once again left Americans with feelings of sorrow, anger and uncertainty,” Lynch said at the annual conference for the International Bar Association. “They have once again highlighted — in the most vivid and painful terms — the real divisions that still persist in this nation between law enforcement and communities of color. And in Charlotte, they have once again led to widespread protest. Unfortunately, we saw several instances of violence during the protests, and 12 police officers and a number of demonstrators were injured as a result. Protest is protected by our Constitution and is a vital instrument for raising issues and creating change. But when it turns violent, it undermines the very justice that it seeks to achieve and I urge those demonstrating in Charlotte to remain peaceful in their expressions of protest and concern.”

In her wide-ranging remarks, she added that the Department of Justice is trying to work in everyone’s best interest. “At the Department of Justice, we are working tirelessly to build trust between law enforcement officers and the communities we serve and we will continue to do so. We will continue to forge dialogue between citizens and police officers. We will continue to do everything we can to give the brave men and women who wear the badge the tools and training they need to do their jobs safely, effectively and fairly. And we will continue to protect the rights and liberties of every American – no matter who they are, what they look like, or what uniform they wear,” she said.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton plays in Charlotte. Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry reps Charlotte. Residents will tell you that Charlotte is vulnerable and not a city particularly ready for this discussion or fight, if it comes to it. The Panthers play the Minnesota Vikings at 1 p.m. in Bank of America Stadium on Sunday. That national anthem ceremony will be a heavily scrutinized one.