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

This year’s Emmy nominations are blackish

Record-setting 36 people of color were nominated in acting categories

8:00 AMI had one thought and one thought only after viewing this year’s Emmy nominations:


The 70th Annual Emmy Awards nominations were announced Thursday, and it seems like the television industry has finally started to get the hint. A record-setting 36 people of color, including 28 of African descent, were nominated across all acting categories. While names such as Donald Glover, Issa Rae and Sterling Brown were expected, others such as Letitia Wright, Tiffany Haddish and Brian Tyree Henry came as welcome surprises.

By far the most surprising nomination was Katt Williams for his role as Willy on Glover’s Atlanta. Talk about a comeback. This man went from getting choked out by a teenager to one of the most memorable roles in television history. The crazy thing was that Glover knew this role would resurrect Williams’ career.

Besides Haddish, Henry, Wright and Williams all earning their first Emmy nominations, most notably Kenan Thompson received his first nod after more than 15 years on Saturday Night Live.

Hollywood’s issues with diversity have been well-documented. Although the film industry has been reluctant to give up old habits, it seems that television is well-aware of America’s shifting demographics. By 2045, minorities are predicted to become the majority group in the United States.

It has taken some time to reverse the damage done by more than a century’s worth of typecasting based on malignant racial stereotypes. While there’s obviously more work to do, shows such as Atlanta and Insecure have done excellent work in showing the diversity of the black experience.

Take actor Tituss Burgess, for example, who received his fourth consecutive Emmy nomination for his supporting role on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Burgess plays Titus Andromedon, the eccentric yet hysterically lazy gay best friend to the show’s namesake. A decade ago this role was nonexistent because of falsely constructed narratives of black masculinity.

Or take the women on Rae’s HBO comedy Insecure. The show in and of itself seeks to provide an unprecedented, uninhibited look at black womanhood. Even better, it does so with a vulgarity usually reserved for men.

Are these characters perfect portrayals of the archetypes they intend to convey? Far from it. They do, however, add another layer to the complexity of the black experience.

After years of crying for recognition, the convergence of changing demographics with the flux of quality programming has resulted in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences finally taking notice. And it’s about time.

Minnesota Lynx guard Maya Moore receives June WNBA Cares Community Assist Award

Her passion for supporting underprivileged children and improving criminal justice reform is being rewarded

5:59 PMMinnesota Lynx All-Star Maya Moore says she’s been given an “opportunity that’s bigger than basketball.” In an on-camera video for The Players’ Tribune, Moore told former NBA player and Memphis Grizzlies assistant coach Jerry Stackhouse that she gets pretty worked up when seeing injustice.

Inspired by the story of an incarcerated family friend, she’s spending much of her time off the court fighting against wrongful convictions.

Her deep passion for this work and her support of underprivileged youths has earned her the WNBA Cares Community Assist award for June, the WNBA announced Thursday. The honor is awarded each month during the WNBA season to a player who best reflects the WNBA’s passion to make a difference in the community.

“I’m honored to be a part of celebrating the great work that was able to be done between the community and the Lynx organization,” said Moore. “I love having a chance to use the game of basketball to serve those around me.”

Moore says Jonathan Irons, who was sentenced to prison for the nonfatal shooting of a homeowner during a robbery in 1997 near her hometown of Jefferson City, Missouri, is serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. Irons has served 21 years of his 50-year sentence. As Moore looked into his case, she believed there was a lack of evidence.

She has worked with Athletes for Impact, an organization that connects athletes with the community, to launch the Win With Justice project, an interactive platform seeking to advance a fair and equitable criminal justice system.

On June 17, Moore hosted her annual Maya Moore Academy in Minneapolis, where she awarded the Minnesota Lynx FastBreak Foundation with 20 scholarships, giving local underserved female youths an opportunity to attend her camp free of charge.

When the Lynx celebrated its 2017 WNBA championship in Washington, D.C., despite not receiving an invitation to the White House, Moore and her team partnered with the nonprofit Samaritan’s Feet to provide all 340 students at Payne Elementary School with new Jordan Brand shoes and Nike socks. The team also played basketball with students from the school, which serves homeless children and students from low-income families.

Before the Lynx’s 2018 home opener, a poster of Moore debuted outside Target Center. After a picture of 4-year-old Liliana Sikakane posing in front of the billboard went viral, Moore and the Lynx invited Liliana and her father, Justice, to their practice facility, where she received a surprise meet-and-greet from the five-time WNBA All-Star. Liliana and her family were also invited to Minnesota’s game on June 1, where they sat courtside for pregame warm-ups.

In recognition of Moore’s efforts, the WNBA and State Farm will donate $5,000 to benefit the Social Impact Fund.

New Los Angeles Laker LeBron James in talks to star in big-screen comedy

His own SpringHill Entertainment, led by Maverick Carter, to produce

2:24 PMDays after signing an impressive four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers, LeBron James is now in talks to star in a comedy feature. Variety reports that his SpringHill Entertainment company just sold an untitled comedic film to Paramount Players (a division of Paramount Pictures) that James would produce along with Maverick Carter. This would mark the second time James has appeared in a feature film, following his impressive debut as a version of himself in 2015’s Trainwreck. More about James’ Hollywood power moves here.

HBCUs get help on making campuses more inclusive for transgender students

Human Rights Campaign hosts summit with 12 schools

7:15 AM“We are more diverse than we are similar. We are more layered than we are one thing.”

The statement from Jodie Patterson, the mother of transgender boy Penelope, resonated throughout the first-floor conference room of the Human Rights Campaign building in Washington, D.C. Her words at the Leadership Summit on LGBTQ Inclusion for University Presidents and Senior Executives got the attention of some of the most powerful administrators of America’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

And her purpose was evident: adequate transgender inclusion and equity on HBCU campuses.

“When you really break it down, we are talking about self-proclaimed identity,” said Patterson. “I have to keep reminding folks, especially black folks, that we are equipped for this. It’s not going to fracture black communities. It’s not going to break down our black universities. This is about self-determination.

“I want Penel [Penelope] to go to an HBCU,” said Patterson. “Here’s my issue: Not all trans people have surgery. Not all trans people change their body. Spelman is allowing trans women to apply, but only post-operation, I believe. But what if you have a trans person who says this is my body? I am a woman, so this is a woman’s body.”

Patterson told representatives from 12 HBCUs that people have to start thinking about the mind and the spirit before the body and she believes that people in the HBCU environment should start and lead the conversation around this issue.

Dillard University president Walter Kimbrough responded to Patterson’s concerns in a panel discussion with the media after the initial conversation with Patterson and fellow LGBTQ parent Keisha Michaels.

“I think a lot of these colleges and universities aren’t having these conversations. It isn’t simply an HBCU phenomenon, but how do we have those conversations with HBCUs? You still have this church influence, which makes the conversations difficult to have,” said Kimbrough. “But I think there are new opportunities. … There’s just a lot of education that has to be done, and both of them presenting as parents I think is a powerful narrative that our faculty and staff could relate to. Say that this was my child. I would want to make sure my child is being treated the right way and responsibly, and with love and care.”

Claflin University president Henry Tisdale agreed with Kimbrough, saying that the panel was interesting because it provided a firsthand look into what it actually means to be transgender.

“It’s not as simple as we might think,” Tisdale said. “It was interesting to me to learn that there is just so much more that we need to learn at our institutions and to learn that there are resources that we could use to help us do that that are very close to us.

“We will be reaching out and inviting those resources to come to our campuses to help us not just as presidents but to help faculty, staff, administrators and even our students to know more about what this population might mean being on our campus.”

For Makola Abdullah, Virginia State University president, this was his second year attending the summit. He has already started some initiatives to create a more inclusive campus environment at VSU.

“When I was here last year, one of the things I learned about was a presidential task force on LGBTQ initiatives at Morgan State University,” said Abdullah. “So I promptly left and went back and started a presidential task force at Virginia State University, with the idea that the level of action that occurred at the presidential level was having an impact at Morgan State [and] directly impacted the work we do at Virginia State. … That is why I was so keen on making sure that I came this year to continue that momentum of my growth and our institution’s growth.”

Morgan State is looking into creating a “living-learning” community for gender fluid students and possibly creating a diversity and inclusion center for these students on campus.

Administrators at the summit said they are not at the point they wish to be to completely understand the complexities of LGBTQ students, but their goal is to create safe and comfortable communities for all of their students.

“Having heard the commentary today and understanding the diversity in opinion in terms of what it means to be comfortable on campus, we’ve got to take a look at those and continue to evolve to be better at what we do,” said Abdullah. “I think we all want to make sure students are as comfortable as possible, because if they are they are more likely to graduate, and we want them to be able to graduate and chase their dreams.”

“HBCUs are stepping up to expand inclusion and support for LGBTQ people on their campuses,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, senior vice president for programs, training and research for the HRC Foundation. “From enhanced inclusive programming to institutional investment in support staff, the momentum for equality at America’s HBCUs has never been clearer.”

The eight HBCUs besides Dillard, Morgan State, Virginia State and Claflin were Howard, North Carolina A&T, Hampton, Spelman, Kentucky State, Savannah State, Prairie View A&M and Johnson C. Smith.

Thanks, Keke, we love you for giving us the ‘In my feelings challenge’

OBJ, Ciara and James Harden, sort of, killed it

2:24 PMFirst of all, let us all take this moment to thank “Keke,” the woman who inspired Drake to make one of the top hit songs of the summer, “In My Feelings.”

The upbeat love anthem is arguably the best song from the newly released album Scorpion and has had people dancing and belting out, “Keke, do you love me?” since the album was released on June 29.

According to PopBuzz, “Keke” is the nickname of Drake’s first girlfriend, Keshia Chanté.

After the comedian Shiggy, who is most known for his impressions of Stephen A. Smith, took to Instagram to bust his moves to the song, the immediate result is the latest viral dance challenge on social media. High-profile stars such as Ciara, Odell Beckham Jr. and James Harden attempted to show off their dance moves for the #inmyfeelingschallenge.

So we ranked their performances from No. 5 to No. 1:

No. 5: DJ Khaled

For obvious reasons, DJ Khaled comes in last at No. 5. His dance moves had him looking like Pumbaa from The Lion King. This man’s dancing ability is the visual equivalent of hearing ICE JJ Fish sing. Khaled’s attempt at “shooting” was worse than Rajon Rondo in 2008. We appreciate the effort, Khaled, but as we like to say, “that ain’t it. “

No. 4: The entire set of Good Day L.A.

Stop. Please Stop. The whole set looks like a private school PTA meeting gone horribly wrong. They look like the Full House cast trying to do the Tootsee Roll. I can only imagine the disappointment on their kids’ faces.

No. 3: James Harden and Meek Mill

Harden’s moves were respectable. His two-step was similar to the drunk uncle at a Labor Day cookout who lost his knees 10 years ago. While Harden did not show anything spectacular, he displayed enough church rhythm to be slotted at No. 3. Having Meek Mill as a hype man added some bonus points.

No.2: Ciara

With all due respect to Ciara, she would have been No. 1 if it weren’t for her husband, Russell Wilson. Ciara showed out, as we all expected. However, hubby seemed to be overwhelmed by the moment. Wilson looked like that father whose daughter forces him to do a dance routine. He gave about as much effort as Trae Young gives guarding the pick-and-roll. The Seattle Seahawks quarterback acted like Malcolm Butler was in the background ready to steal another Super Bowl from him. Yet, I can’t talk about Wilson too bad. Sometimes you got to know when to hand the ball off to your teammate.

No. 1: Odell Beckham Jr.

OBJ’s technique and precision were masterful. Every beat drop was on point, and his creativity level put him over the top. You could see every ramen noodle strand of his hair flopping to the sound of Drake’s voice. OBJ made the challenge seem effortless, and that is why he is our “In my feelings challenge” winner.

Here are some other notable “In my feelings challenge” videos, including Drake doing the dance on stage and even one from Golden State Warriors guard Nick Young, most notably known as “Swaggy P.”



Behind the scenes at NBA Las Vegas Summer League: The vibe is all LeBron, Donovan Mitchell and Boogie Cousins

And not even top-level NBA execs seem to have a clue where Kawhi Leonard is going

5:15 PM“We’ve got LeBron,” says a Lakers fan in a throwback Magic Johnson jersey — to another fan in a vintage Kobe Bryant No. 8. “It’s lit. I don’t care. At least we’re relevant again. I’ll worry about the rest later.”

Rookies, undrafted rookies and unknown free agents looking for a chance to change their lives are the main plot lines of summer league in Las Vegas. It’s where the legend of Donovan Mitchell was born this time in 2017. This week, Mitchell is shaking hands, kissing babies, and signing autographs in Sin City like he’s the mayor.

NBA Summer League is a first chance to see the league’s new crop of talent in action, from Trae Young to Deandre Ayton to Zhaire Smith. The annual summer tradition is a bridge between the draft and the start of training camp. A potluck of players — rookies, young vets, older veterans and retired OGs — are in Las Vegas, as well as scouts, agents, fans, sportswriters and broadcasters from across the country. Tourists trying to escape the heat, or nurse a hangover, show up for the festivities as well.

Summer League is also a hotbed of speculation about how the league will look when the season tips off in a few months. The dominant conversation among the NBA extended community in town for NBA Summer League is still free agency.

A group of Warriors fans walk past press row at the University of Nevada’s Thomas & Mack Center during Saturday’s Hawks vs. Knicks game, the best game of summer league so far, in Warriors jerseys. One is wearing an Andre Iguodala swingman. The other, a Klay Thompson. A third rocks a Stephen Curry swingman, and the fourth is in a makeshift DeMarcus Cousins jersey with “Boogie” written on Scotch tape pasted on the back. The Warriors organization isn’t too far from anyone’s mind either.

“It’s a case of the rich get richer. Boogie never reached out to us,” said one Western Conference executive. “I don’t think it was a case of anyone trying to disrespect Boogie. It was more so shock. Like this guy is really available?”

He continues, “It’s great for Golden State. Great for Boogie because he gets to rehab with the best team, basically have a strong second half … and get paid next summer. Great for them … terrible for the rest of us.”

By far the most glaring question mark hovers above superstar San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard. Quite literally no one knows (or will even whisper) what will happen with the former Finals MVP. But Kawhi is the talk in the casinos. He’s the talk on The Strip. He’s the talk throughout the Thomas & Mack.

“It’s weird, right? Where do you think he goes?” asks a Western Conference executive. He never expected the Spurs to be in a position in which the face of the franchise wants out. “You gotta expect that he’s gone sooner than later. You don’t want that dragging into the season. And for someone like Kawhi, you absolutely have to get something in return. … It’s like the entire league is just waiting on the shoe to drop.”