NBA’s Luol Deng: ‘I’m Proud to Have A Lot of African in Me’

NBA's Luol Deng: 'I'm Proud to Have A Lot of African in Me'

Thanks to some good reporting by Yahoo! News’s Adrian Wojnaroski, we now know that Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson’s black-fans-are-bad-for-business e-mail surfaced as part of an internal investigation into racist comments made by several members of the team’s front office. The more upsetting comments came from Hawks general manager Danny Ferry, who said that NBA All-Star and South Sudanese player Luol Deng had “a little African in him” in reference to his not being perfect

Not in a bad way, but he’s like a guy who would have a nice store out front but sell you counterfeit stuff out the back,” Ferry said.

Deng issued a public statement on Tuesday to say that he doesn’t just have “a little African in him.” He has a lot, and he’s damn proud of it:


These words were recently used to describe me.  It would ordinarily make any African parent proud to hear their child recognized for their heritage.

I’m proud to say I actually have a lot of African in me, not just “a little”. For my entire life, my identity has been a source of pride and strength. Among my family and friends, in my country of South Sudan and across the broader continent of Africa, I can think of no greater privilege than to do what I love for a living while also representing my heritage on the highest stage. Unfortunately, the comment about my heritage was not made with the same respect and appreciation.

Concerning my free agency, the focus should purely have been on my professionalism and my ability as an athlete. Every person should have the right to be treated with respect and evaluated as an individual, rather than be reduced to a stereotype. I am saddened and disappointed that this way of thinking still exists today. I am even more disturbed that it was shared so freely in a business setting.

However, there is comfort in knowing that there are people who aren’t comfortable with it and have the courage to speak up. In the same way a generalization should not define a group of people, the attitude of a few should not define a whole organization or league.

Ultimately, I’m thankful to be with an organization that appreciates me for who I am and has gone out of its way to make me feel welcome.


Livestream: American Policing of Black Bodies With Jelani Cobb

Livestream: American Policing of Black Bodies With Jelani Cobb

Ferguson is still on the minds and hearts of activists across the country. While that municipality’s city council meets for the first time to discuss the prospect of a police oversight board, black activists, writers and academics are still organizing around the national implications of Michael Brown’s murder.

This evening the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is hosting a livestreamed discussion on how American policing impacts black bodies. Contributing to the discussion are Khalil G. Muhammad (director of the Schomburg Center); Jelani Cobb (historian and journalist); Claudia De La Cruz (founder of Da Urban Butterflies); Darnell L. Moore (activist and co-organizer of Black Lives Matter); and moderator Joel Diaz (education associate at the Schomburg). There will also be a special reading by writer Akeema Zane.

The discussion starts on Tuesday, September 9 at 6:30pm EST. You can watch above. 

(h/t New York Public Library)

Beats Celebrates Serena Williams’ U.S. Open Win With Moving New Ad

Beats Celebrates Serena Williams' U.S. Open Win With Moving New Ad

Just before Serena Williams won her 18th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last weekend, Beats celebrated her athletic prowess with a new commercial that’s pretty great. It features a track called “Black Unicorn” by 2 Chainz f. Chrisette Michele and Sunni Patterson.

Watch Alexander Wang Talk About His Journey in Fashion

Watch Alexander Wang Talk About His Journey in Fashion

Alexander Wang’s new athletic wear-inspired line is making waves at New York Fashion Week, as Callie Beusman describes at Jezebel. The Chinese-American designer, who was named creative director of Balenciaga in 2012 and been dogged by allegations of using sweatshop labor, is establishing himself as a heavy hitter in the fashion world. It’s worth taking a look back at this interview with Vogue in which Wang talks about starting his own brand in college and balancing the demands of life and work. 

Orange is the New Purple? Dascha Polanco Debuts New Hair at Fashion Week

Orange is the New Purple? Dascha Polanco Debuts New Hair at Fashion Week

“Orange is the New Black” star Dascha Polanco is turning plenty of heads at New York Fashion Week thanks to her gray and lavender hair. Behold:

Baltimore Ravens Player Speaks About Janay Rice’s Revictimization

Baltimore Ravens Player Speaks About Janay Rice's Revictimization

Baltimore Ravens defensive back Chris Canty had one of the more powerful statements on violence against women when he spoke to the media following Ray Rice’s dismissal from the team.

“I was in shock,” Canty said when he first saw the video. “My first thoughts were, ‘I don’t think it’s appropriate to show it on television.’ You have to think of the victim, Janay, in this situation. To force her to re-live that physical and emotional abuse is wrong, it’s absolutely wrong, and some media outlets have chosen to air it regardless of her feelings. I’m not sure if they reached out for her consent, but it’s wrong.”

Read more and watch video on

Dave Zirin wrote at The Nation about the problem with re-playing Janay Rice’s assault in the media:

No one cares that she is now going to have to relive this incident over and over again. No one cares that the world has now become privy to what may be the most humiliating moment of her entire life. No one cares that she’s basically now being used as a soapbox with otherwise apolitical NFL commentators using her prone body to get on their high horse and safely blast the league. There is video, and those who never raised their voice publicly about the axis of domestic violence and the NFL before are now bellowing the loudest.

Read more at The Nation.

Janay Rice on Domestic Violence Video: ‘Reality is a Nightmare’

Janay Rice on Domestic Violence Video: 'Reality is a Nightmare'

Janay Rice, wife of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, made her first public comments since TMZ leaked video of her brutal assault in an Atlantic City elevator last February.

In a statement on Instagram, Rice wrote:

“I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that hte media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his a** of for all his life just to gain ratings is horrific. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!”

Rice’s Instagram is private, but several screenshots of her statement have been circulating this morning.*

*Post has been updated to reflect the removal of the screen-grab of Janay Rice’s private Instagram account. 



Janay Rice, Domestic Violence in the NFL, and Black Women’s Bodies

Janay Rice, Domestic Violence in the NFL, and Black Women's Bodies

Update at 3:46 EDT

CNN is reporting that the Baltimore Ravens have cut Ray Rice. He’s also been suspended indefinitely by the NFL.


This morning TMZ leaked video (warning: it’s extremely graphic) of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice brutally assaulting his then-fiancée (now wife) Janay Rice in an Atlantic City elevator. The assault happened last February and only part of it — showing Rice dragging his partner’s unconscious body out of the elevator — was leaked publicly before he was suspended two games by NFL commissioner Roger Goddell.

Goddell has already responded to criticism that he was too lenient with Rice’s suspension. He’s announced new, harsher punishment for domestic violence in the future. He also said that he hadn’t seen this latest video before TMZ published it on Monday. But, as Yahoo! Sports’ Eric Endholm writes, that’s suspicious:

The NFL issued a statement Monday morning that no one in its offices saw the TMZ video until this morning, along with the rest of us. If that’s indeed the case — and it’s a stretch of the imagination to think that’s the case — why was TMZ able to get its hands on the video but the league was not? And if the league did not try, why not? The police certainly saw it. The NFL, if it did not, most certainly should have sought to.

The new video is the missing part of the puzzle that shows what happened inside of the elevator: Rice punched Palmer in the face so violently that she hit her head on an elevator railing and lost consciousness. 

Domestic violence was one of our five racial justice issues to watch this NFL season, and for good reason. More than anyone, Goddell knows that his initial punishment of Rice is bad for business; the league’s marketing to women has exploded in recent years. He’ll undoubtedly have to revisit Rice’s case, and there are others that are still playing out. Ray McDonald, a defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers, was arrested on domestic violence charges but was still allowed to play in Sunday’s opening game in Dallas. So far, the league’s stated intentions haven’t matched up with its actions.

In the most prominent cases, it’s been black women’s brutalized bodies that have become symbols of the league’s problem with domestic violence. And this video is particularly difficult to watch. I can’t help but think about how Palmer’s assault is being replayed over and over again. TMZ’s decision to leak it probably does mean that there will be some sort of personal and institutional accountability for Ray Race and the NFL. But it’s brutal nonetheless, and shameful that it takes this to call attention to domestic violence.

Here’s 11-Year-Old Serena Williams Playing Tennis With Sister Venus

Here's 11-Year-Old Serena Williams Playing Tennis With Sister Venus Play

Is Serena Williams the greatest American tennis player ever? That’s the question that’s being debated a day after the 32-year-old star won her 18th Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open over the weekend. She’s certainly made a strong case for herself, but it’s also clear that she’s spent a lifetime perfecting her craft. Here’s a video from 1992 when 11-year-old Serena was profiled along with her 12-year-old sister Venus. They’re without a doubt the greatest sibling duo to ever take the tennis court. 

The NBA’s Racism is Structural, Not Just Individual

The NBA's Racism is Structural, Not Just Individual

The sports world is up in arms again over another NBA white owner. This time it’s Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson, who announced on Sunday that he’s selling his controlling interest in the team after a 2012 e-mail surfaced in which he argued that too many black fans are bad for business. Deadspin published the entire e-mail, which reads in part:

My theory is that the black crowd scared away the whites and there are simply not enough affluent black fans to build a signficant season ticket base. Please dont get me wrong. There was nothing threatening going on in the arean back then. i never felt uncomfortable, but i think southern whites simply were not comfortable being in an arena or at a bar where they were in the minority. On fan sites i would read comments about how dangerous it is around philips yet in our 9 years, i don’t know of a mugging or even a pick pocket incident. This was just racist garbage. When I hear some people saying the arena is in the wrong place I think it is code for there are too many blacks at the games.

Levenson’s subtle racism is unlike Donald Sterling’s overt racism. Sterling showed outright contempt for black people at his games on top of a long history of employment and housing discrimination. Levenson, like Kareem Abdul-Jabar argues over at Time, is a businessman who seems to understand how racist perceptions of black fans are hurting his operation. His e-mail contains casually racist allusions (“few fathers and sons at the game”) and he doesn’t strongly condemn the racism that he’s accusing Atlanta’s white fans of. He’s also not particularly inclined to change those perceptions and uses a broad brush to paint over an economically diverse community, and that’s a problem when you’re in one of the blackest markets in America.

Together, Sterling’s and Levenson’s views have led to some soul-searching, as described by William C. Rhoden at the New York Times, who wrote, “In light of this second embarrassing disclosure, N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver should conduct an investigation to find out how many other Donald Sterlings and Bruce Levensons are among the league’s owners and top executives. Who are the racists, the sexists, the homophobes?”

But the focus on individual racists and misogynists and homophobes is too limited. The bigger problem is structural.

There are 30 NBA franchises that employ roughly 439 players, most of whom are black Americans, according to an unofficial NBA census. But of those 30 teams, only three owners — the Los Angeles Lakers’ Janie Buss, the Charlotte Hornets’ Michael Jordan, and Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé — are not white men. Here’s a graphic from the New York Daily News that drives home the point:


Few players graduate to their teams’ front offices, and it’s those front offices that run one of the biggest cultural institutions in America. As Levenson’s e-mail shows, they control the experience of an NBA game, a team’s roster, and that team’s involvement in its local community. If an owner disdains that community, it’s reflected in the organization. Certainly, not all white owners think the way Levenson does. But it might help if they were more representative of the league’s players, fans and cities. 

HBO’s James Brown Doc Features Tons of Unseen Footage

HBO's James Brown Doc Features Tons of Unseen Footage

Move over, Chadwick Boseman. The real Godfather of Soul is taking the stage again, this time in the form of a new documentary called “Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown,” which will premiere on HBO on October 27 at 9 p.m.

From Rolling Stone:

Made with the support and cooperation of Brown’s estate, the doc features rare and never-before-seen footage, interviews and photos from throughout the musician’s career. The documentary will also include interviews with Jagger, Questlove, Chuck D, Rev. Al Sharpton, Maceo Parker, Clyde Stubblefield, Melvin Parker, Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis, Martha High, Bootsy Collins, Fred Wesley and many more.

“We had full access to amazing never-before-seen photos and video from James Brown’s estate, which Alex Gibney used brilliantly to tell the story of James’ career from its inception through its pinnacle,” Jagger said in a statement. “We spoke with the extraordinary people who knew James well and worked alongside him throughout his career. By hearing their fascinating stories and memories, we were able to paint the full picture of James as both a musical artist and social activist, whose legacy and impact on the music industry is ever-present.”

The new documentary comes on the heels of “Get On Up,” the feature film starring Boseman that hit theaters last month. 

CeeLo Booted From Military Base Performance

CeeLo Booted From Military Base Performance

CeeLo tweeted some really dumb comments about rape, so it only makes sense that the singer would be booted from an upcoming performances at a U.S. military base, an institution that’s plagued by systemic sexual violence. 

Freedom LIVE, the company that’s in charge of programming for the U.S. military’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) department, announced that they’ve dropped CeeLo from their September 20 show with Little Big Town at the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in D.C. In a strongly worded statement on their Facebook page, Freedom LIVE wrote:

We seek a Department-wide culture of gender dignity and respect where sexual assault is completely eliminated and never tolerated, where sexual assault victims receive compassionate and coordinated support, and where offenders are held appropriately accountable.

Unfortunately, one of the performers we signed for the JBAB Freedom Live show on 20 September recently posted comments on social media that we consider to completely inconsistent with Navy core values. Regardless of intent or context, the lack of sensitivity towards an issue that is one of the great challenges facing our Navy is unacceptable.

As a result, we have made the decision to pull CeeLo Green from the Freedom Live event on 20 September. Little Big Town, the main attraction for the event, will still perform as scheduled. We will announce as soon as possible a replacement opening act of the high quality that you expect and deserve.

Read more


Watch Jay Z’s 33-Second Video to Celebrate Beyoncé’s 33rd Bithday

Watch Jay Z's 33-Second Video to Celebrate Beyoncé's 33rd Bithday Play

Queen Bey turned 33 on September 4, and hubby Jay Z put together an adorable happy birthday video for her. Even better: the video is exactly 33 seconds long.

(h/t Jezebel)

The Case Against Washington, D.C.’s NFL Team Grows as Season Kicks Off

The Case Against Washington, D.C.'s NFL Team Grows as Season Kicks Off

As the Packers take on the Seahawks tonight in the NFL’s debut game, pressure is building for Washington, D.C. team owner Dan Snyder to change his franchise’s racist name. This week, Change the Mascot, a national campaign launched by the Oneida Indian Nation, released a letter signed by more than 100 partner organizations (including Colorlines’ publisher Race Forward) protesting the team’s name. They also released a letter to broadcasters to stop using the derogatory slur. In part it reads:

…We are writing to ask you to join other media organizations in refusing to broadcast the Washington team’s name on the public airwaves. The team’s name is a dictionary-defined racial slur. As of 2014’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling, it is also a government-defined racial slur. Those definitions are correct. Throughout history, this term has been used to disparage Native Americans. It is the term used by bounty hunters to describe bloody Native scalps, and it was the epithet screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands. No doubt, the bigotry of this word is why the team was originally given the name by its longtime owner, avowed segregationist George Preston Marshall.

The group, along with the National Congress of American Indians, are also leading a social media campaign that coincides with the start of the season. They’re asking users to use the hashtags #ProudtoBe and #SacktheRWord to join the discussion. 

As Yahoo! Sports has noted, the campaign is making an impact:

Some mainstream media broadcasters who will call and report on NFL games this season — such as NBC’s Tony Dungy and ESPN’s Lisa Salters — have said they might not say “Redskins” on air. CBS has said it will leave it up to its broadcasters to make individual calls on whether they choose to, and Phil Simms is one who has said he might not.

t’s clear that some people’s opinions on this story are changing. Not long ago, support for keeping the Redskins nickname — depending on the survey cited — hovered in the 80-to-90-percent range. But recently, other surveys, such as ESPN’s recent poll of 286 NFL players shows that the number has come down.

For now, they’re still the Redskins. But for how long? The league has been quite quiet on the issue largely, and there are marketing and promotional considerations that likely will keep things status quo for this season, and perhaps beyond. But if that support continues to dwindle and the Native American groups involved in this plea have their voice heard, we could see even more action and impetus for chance.

Read more


HBO Latino to Premiere New Show on Brazilian Sex Workers

HBO Latino to Premiere New Show on Brazilian Sex Workers

HBO Latino is launching an original series this fall that’s based on the lives of Brazil’s high-end sex workers. From their press release:

This fall we are promoting a new and exciting series from Brazil named El Negocio and our team is looking for influencers to support our promotional efforts. 

The series tells the story of Karin, Luna and Magali, three beautiful and intelligent women who come together with the idea of revolutionizing their profession, high-end escorts. Given the limited prospects for professional growth they face, they have a vision: if behind every product there is a marketing strategy, why not apply the same techniques to the oldest profession in the world. Karin, Luna and Magali are ladies of a luxury company, ready to become true business women.

It’s hard to tell at this point if the show will be a worthwhile look into Brazil’s sex trade or just another way to exploit women’s bodies. But the trailer (NSFW) is in line with a study that found that Latinas are more likely than women of any other ethnicity to appear on camera naked.

The topic of sex work in Brazil has gotten a lot of attention lately as the country played host to the 2014 World Cup. Curiously, this new show doesn’t appear to include any sex workers of African descent, though race and poverty often play a big role in who enters the industry.

(h/t Latino Rebels)

Listen: Jeezy and Kendrick Lamar on ‘Holy Ghost’ Remix

Kendrick Lamar is doing a lot of guest verses, which hopefully means that his rumored new album is still on track for this fall. Here’s a remix of his “Holy Ghost” track with Jeezy. (K.Dot’s verse begins at 2:49.)

(h/t Hypetrak)

Rosie Perez is Joining ‘The View’

Actress Rosie Perez is joining “The View” along with Republican media operative Nicole Wallace. They’ll appear alongside Rosie O’Donnell and Whoopi Goldberg on the ABC daytime show starting on September 15.

Here’s how we’re celebrating:

Meet Xiomara, the Singer Who Gives New Life to Your Favorite Hip-Hop Classics

Xiomara is a San Francisco-based Bay Area native whose soulful renditions of hip-hop classics caught my ear a while back. 

She also works with newer artists like A-1, a San Francsico-based emcee.

TAGS: music Xiomara

Gene Luen Yang on Diversity in Comics: ‘We Have to Make Mistakes’

Gene Luen Yang on Diversity in Comics: 'We Have to Make Mistakes'

Gene Luen Yang delivered a moving speech at the 14th annual National Book Festival’s award gala in Washington, DC last weekend. In it, the comic behind “American Born Chinese,” “Boxers and Saints,” and “The Shadow Hero” talked about the fear that keeps writers from exploring characters of different ethnicities:

We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.

Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.

Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them - definitely correct them - but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.

And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.

Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.

Read the whole thing over at the Washington Post.

(h/t Angry Asian Man

Listen: Kendrick Lamar Featured on New Flying Lotus’s ‘Never Catch Me’

Flying Lotus has a new album called “You’re Dead!” dropping on October 7 and he just released a new track featuring Kendrick Lamar called “Never Catch Me.” Listen:

(h/t Pitchfork)

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