In wake of the hate crimes in Maryland and Oregon, self-protection becomes a priority Highly publicized, race-motivated crimes are forcing black America to think about legal carry … or not

Should we bring a gun?

It’s not exactly the question you think would come to mind while planning a leisurely getaway. But as my husband and I packed for a long weekend of culture, Southern cuisine and a well-deserved rest, it was one we repeatedly and seriously asked ourselves.

We were headed to the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, where the heat and history can be oppressive. It’s a city that sometimes feels like a foreign country, but it’s as all-American as it gets. You can stand where men, women and children were shackled, poked, prodded, bought and sold — you can feel their ghosts. Some 40 percent of the enslaved in the 13 colonies during the trans-Atlantic slave trade came through the city. And yet, here we are, a black woman and white man, mixing and mingling and applauding with audiences and performers of all races at what’s become a major tourist draw.

In Charleston, the past is never past, as unapologetic racist Dylann Roof proved when in 2015 he chose historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, known as Mother Emanuel, a spiritual and civil rights bulwark, as the site of a hate-filled killing spree, murdering nine parishioners after praying with them for the better part of an hour. In North Charleston, unarmed African-American Walter Scott was shot by a police officer in the back; it was considered imperfect justice when Scott’s killer, Michael Slager, pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge after a state jury could not agree on a verdict despite video evidence.

Charleston has its special history. But is it all that different from the rest of America?


In New Orleans, the decision to remove and move monuments to the Confederacy, some erected long after the Civil War’s end, is debated and resisted.

Portland, Oregon, has its own Western brand of exclusionary racism baked in the soil, exemplified by Oregon’s policy barring blacks from living there when the state entered the union in 1859 and the legacy of those actions since then. In Portland, a man has been charged in the murder of two white men and the attempted murder of a third when the three came to the aid of two African-American women, one wearing a hijab, being harangued and harassed on public transportation last month. The accused attacker was known for expressing white supremacist views at rallies and on social media.

In Maryland, my home state, an empty chair took the place of 23-year-old Richard Collins III, a recently commissioned U.S. Army second lieutenant, at his Bowie State University graduation; his life was ended as he waited for his ride at a University of Maryland bus stop. A 22-year-old white man, who was a member of a Facebook group called “Alt-Reich,” has been charged in the stabbing; authorities are investigating whether it was a hate crime.

When crowds in Charlottesville, Virginia, protesting a City Council vote to remove a park statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee marched, shouted and carried flaming torches, all that was missing was a burning cross.

There is aggression in words as well, and no one is immune. So Cleveland Cavalier great LeBron James was not that surprised when a racist slur was spray-painted on the gate of his Los Angeles home.

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you,” the saying goes.

America’s focus has turned to the danger from without, from foreign terrorism and the bad actors entering the country with mayhem in mind. Those are the stories making the headlines, though in truth, domestic terrorism is the threat many people of color fear the most.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tracks attacks by extremists and domestic terrorism and threats by hate groups, which saw an increase in the years of the Obama presidency and continue to rise.

So it made sense for my husband and me to investigate the South Carolina gun laws. The state’s “your home is your castle” Castle Doctrine extends to vehicles and workplaces, meaning our registered piece could indeed travel with us on a journey we hoped would be routine but feared could escalate in an instant.

Laws for self-protection and the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms are tricky and possibly dangerous for African-Americans, as those rights once applied only to whites — and some would say they still do. A registration did not stop legal gun owner Philando Castile from being killed in Minnesota in July 2016 by a panicked police officer, who was found not guilty of any crime this past week despite shooting into a car with a 4-year-old girl as a passenger.

Many, however, have decided taking that chance is worth it, and it has been reported that gun ownership among African-Americans is increasing.

In Charleston, in between programs of opera, dancing and jazz, we made the pilgrimage to Mother Emanuel, quiet and protected. It sits on Calhoun Street, which honors South Carolinian John C. Calhoun, a defender of slavery as a “positive good.”

On these streets, our marriage would have been a crime 50 years ago, before the Loving case removed the legal barriers. In 1998, when South Carolina threw out its unenforceable state ban, 38 percent of voters wanted to keep the pre-Loving status quo.

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) is planning a memorial to peace and justice in Montgomery, Alabama, acknowledging the lynching and legally sanctioned racial terror that traumatized citizens and left a legacy. “Our goal isn’t to be divisive,” Bryan Stevenson, the director of the EJI told The New York Times. “Our goal is just to get people to confront the truth of our past with some more courage.” The museum “From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration” would be one of many memorials.

Are these reminders needed? Last month, tourists visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington found a noose in an exhibition on segregation. In an email to staff, museum director Lonnie Bunch said, “Today’s incident is a painful reminder of the challenges that African-Americans continue to face.”

Will America face this enemy within?

As for our final decision on that gun, we decided not to carry after all. It would have been legal, but it may not have been wise. We did, however, pack a big honkin’ knife.

For the sake of black fatherhood, stop the war on drugs I get to celebrate Father’s Day with my dad after 27 years thanks to President Obama

“Your father WAS a good man, Nique. He always looked out for folks.”

“Boy, Ralph could run. You run just like him. He WAS a legend.”

“You Ralph son? He HAD a brain on him. Smart. Sorry to see that happened to him.”

Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, and playing sports made these common sayings that were spoken to me. My father, Ralph Warren, was a present memory in my life but a very distant one to friends and admirers. Hearing this, you might assume my father was deceased — maybe an accident, a bullet or maybe bad luck happening to a man many had fond memories of. That wasn’t the case at all. My father was alive and well living in Indiana, then Kentucky, then Illinois in a jail cell, sentenced to life in prison for a nonviolent drug offense. He wasn’t deceased, but his sentence would ensure that he would never see freedom. He would die in jail. DIE IN JAIL.

That had always hung over me with great pain, fear and anger. I would not be able to see my father grow old nor pass away in the comforts of his home because he would be in a federal prison cell. That is why on Jan. 17, 2017 — when President Barack Obama, mere days before his term was up, commuted my father’s sentence for drug trafficking and firearm charges after 27 years — I cried for hours knowing that I would know my father as a free man.


On Feb. 8, my father arrived back at the Greyhound bus station in Toledo, Ohio, where dozens of family members, including my mom and sibling, and a host of friends welcomed him back. I introduced him for the very first time to my daughter, Lois Marie. Since his release, he has edited and re-released his novel Target, begun working at a local auto supplier plant and, most importantly, spoken to recovering drug abusers and young men who have come into contact with the prison system. Together, my father and I are advocating for reduced sentencing and more funding for re-entry programs to local and federal legislators. Our lives have been affected by this “War on Drugs,” and we are on a mission to ensure it won’t reintensify.

Between 1970 and 2005, America’s prison and jail population ballooned from 300,000 to more than 2 million. America’s “War on Drugs” began under former President Richard Nixon in 1971 as a response to the increase in recreational drug use and abuse in the 1960s. Initial appropriations were geared to clinical and drug abuse prevention efforts, increased funding for prisons, directives for harsher sentences and aggressive law enforcement geared at drug cartels. It escalated under President Reagan, with the creation of mandatory minimum prison sentences in 1986 after an influx of crack cocaine in American cities targeted black and brown communities.

The American presidency from 1970 to 2005 focused on “Law and Order” to combat drug trafficking and violence, resulting in 1 in 9 black children currently having an incarcerated parent. Ninety-two percent of parents in prison are fathers, and an overwhelming proportion of these fathers are black.

Children of incarcerated parents are faced with trauma, higher chance of being in poverty, and increased rates of incarceration that create a cycle of destruction in the black community. Mass incarceration of black fathers limits the financial stability of families. Coupled with other racially prejudiced systems, mass incarceration plagues the stability of the black community.

Attorney General Eric Holder established the Smart on Crime initiative in 2014 to reduce mandatory minimum sentencing and push more funding to programs that decrease prison recidivism. Researchers from the Pew Charitable Trust agree that federal mandatory minimums don’t deter crime or reduce the number of people who return to jail. Directing prosecutors not to seek mandatory minimums for low-level and nonviolent offenses, the Obama administration’s commutation and pardon policies allowed thousands to be freed and reunited with families and society. Unfortunately, these policies came to an end with the presidential election of Donald Trump and appointment of Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

In May, Sessions directed federal prosecutors to seek the harshest indictments for drug offenses and reinstated mandated federal minimums for all charges, which includes the “three strikes” provision when disclosing to judges all facts pertaining to sentencing. This reversal of policy is not just a setback for best practices in federal prosecutions and has widespread opposition by both political parties, but it is also a setback for black fathers and their children.

Current policies for the Justice Department directed by Sessions empower prosecutors to use the full power of the federal government to enact harsh sentences for low-level and nonviolent crimes and keep the current prison population, the world’s largest, growing. We know that federal sentencing grossly prosecutes a high proportion of black males, leaving their children fatherless, without dual incomes and suffering from extreme trauma. There are no winners in this scenario, only losers. The appearance of being tough on crime from the DOJ will not reduce crime, but it will ensure millions of fatherless children who will be at risk of committing crimes themselves.

If 21st-century federal sentencing policies mirror the past 30 years of “Law and Order” mandates, we will continue to see our prison population rise and spend much-needed funding on housing prisoners instead of investing in communities, families and children. The annual cost of housing a prisoner outstrips the cost of tuition in states such as California, costing more than $75,000. Frederick Douglass in the 19th century said, “It’s easier to build strong children than broken men.” As prison and education costs rise, we as a nation have to make a choice of where our priorities lie. If we believe that families matter and children need fathers, mandatory minimums that target black men must be a policy of the past. We need to reinstate the commutation policy of the last administration so that imprisoned citizens are reinstated back to their communities.

This is the first Father’s Day I will spend with my dad in 27 years. I won’t take it for granted, because I know that many children won’t be able to celebrate it with their fathers.

They were, like me, waiting and waiting for that dream of seeing their fathers on this side of freedom. I am also vigilant for black fathers who will be targeted by the Trump administration’s arcane policies that invoke echoes of the past and have destroyed communities and families of color in the name of “Law and Order.”

On this Father’s Day, celebrate black fatherhood and work to protect it at all costs. I plan to strap my daughter into her stroller, put on my best running shoes and run just like my father, next to my father.

Niecy Nash’s ‘Claws’ is the future of television The veteran actor is flourishing in an unapologetic lane she created for herself

Niecy Nash is having a moment.

Finally. After 22 years of working in Hollywood. After hearing the kinds of feedback that would send even the most confident person into an emotional tailspin — Nash has the lead role in one of the most provocative summer TV series since … well, ever.

In TNT’s new Claws, Nash portrays Desna, the owner of a South Florida nail salon. There are so many sharp curves in the first few episodes, viewers will be grasping — and gagging — for air. The series comes to the network from a team of executive producers that includes Rashida Jones, and critics so far are impressed by Nash’s dramatic range.

“When I entered the business,” said the mom of three in her familiar and melodic voice, “I had challenges with people hiring me because I was chubby. ‘She has a cute face, can’t she lose weight?’ And, I’m like, ‘No, she can’t because she’s about to have three babies.’ The industry was very polite, but they told me: ‘You do sitcom. You’re a sitcom girl. That’s what you do, and that’s your range right over there.’ ”

So Carol Denise Nash worked. And she collected accolades like a daytime Emmy for Style Network’s Clean House (for which she was producer/host), and Emmy nominations in 2015 and 2016 for her role as Didi Ortley in HBO’s Getting On. Nash went after roles — such as her big breakthrough in Comedy Central’s Reno 911! — no one thought she should ever read for. And importantly, the Los Angeles native entered rooms with her head held high, and her self-esteem intact.

Niecy Nash in the show CLAWS

Wilson Webb/TNT

“That’s why it’s called self-esteem, and not them-esteem,” said Nash. “I didn’t need anybody to believe in what I felt like was the call of my life,” she said. “I didn’t need my father to believe it, I didn’t need my friends to believe it, I didn’t need the people who looked at me like,Oh, my God! You bringing three kids to audition? Yes, I sure am, and I’m gonna get it. Watch. Hashtag: Booked it.” She said she often felt bad when people wanted her to get her teeth fixed. But: “Nope, that gap ain’t going nowhere. Nope. Sorry. Too bad. I was unapologetically who I was.”


And now, in the midst of one of the most watched NBA Finals of all time, Nash’s new series, Claws, is premiering. The diverse cast of women she leads is hot with the type of badassery we’ve yet to see from Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James and his crew. “Maybe we could get some men who would never have watched the show otherwise,” said Nash of all of the Claws promos airing during the Finals. “They may be like, ‘What are they doin’ over there?’ We can invite them very politely to our party!”

Set to run at the tail end of this annual celebration of athletic masculinity, Claws is a series about women who go up against men in violent and bold ways. It’s a fantastic and rare dynamic. This is not a role that casting directors, years ago, would have brought Nash in to read for. But Claws — in which Nash rocks sexy looks boldly and unashamedly, and has intense sex scenes with a young lover — is exactly where she’s supposed to be. “She has the heart, and the soul,” said showrunner (and former ER and Criminal Minds producer) Janine Sherman Barrois, “and the humor.”

Niecy Nash in the show CLAWS

Wilson Webb/TNT

The show is a dark and twisted comedy centered on manicurists. Nash’s character is the owner of Nail Artisan of Manatee County salon, and she desperately wants to escape the temporary life of crime for which she’s signed up. She’s hoping for a cash payout that will allow her to take her nail business to the next level, but as these things go, that plan gets remixed. A life of crime ain’t going away anytime soon. Acrylic fill-ins and dope nail art be damned — it’s time for unexpected action in the money-laundering business. “You just don’t see women that are that strong, and provocative, and three-dimensional,” said Barrois. “Normally they’re archetypes. You just don’t see people that are this fierce. She’s everything women strive to be.”

“I didn’t need the people who looked at me like,Oh, my God! You bringing three kids to audition?’ Yes, I sure am, and I’m gonna get it. Watch. Hashtag: Booked it.”

The imagery of this series is powerful and striking. A black woman “of a certain age,” as Nash often says with a cackle, moves in and out of each scene in her tightly fitting, curve-accenting wardrobe, demanding to be heard on matters of all kinds. And she does all this with a diverse band of friends: a conservative ex-con white woman, a black and Asian vixen, a married white woman with two children (one of whom is a black daughter) and a lesbian Latina who drives her current lover so crazy that the lover is stalking her. “These type of characters don’t come along every day,” Nash said. “We’re doing things that typically have been reserved for a male storyline.”

The imagery behind this series is powerful, as well. Two women — Barrois, who is black, and Jones, who is biracial — are calling the shots. And everything from the writer’s room to the extras looks like the world that Barrois, Jones and their producing partners Eliot Laurence and Will McCormack live in.

“When we started casting,” Barrois said, “we wanted to — not in a contrived way, in a real way — show the human experience through five different women from five different walks of life. We believe that that’s real. We’re at a time right now where you’re seeing a lot of women and a lot of people of color in high positions. The more that happens, the more you’ll see more images change, and more stories reflecting that. It’s important. Our point of view is essential. When you have a multiethnic writer’s room, you have all different points of view coming into play.”

Niecy Nash in the show CLAWS

Wilson Webb/TNT

Being on set for this show is unlike anything Nash has experienced. And she loves every bit of it. “I am so tickled when I go to work and I see women leading the charge: Rashida Jones and Janine, and not too long ago we had Victoria Mahoney directing us, which was amazing. It is so completely delicious,” Nash said. “One of the girls who’s my stand-in on the show said to me, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this! I’ve never been a part of something where there are so many black women bossing everybody around!’ ”

Barrois remembers that day well. It was special for nearly everyone around. “That was a very moving day on set. I remember when we were walking across the set with Victoria, people — some stand-ins, some extras — came in and said, ‘You guys inspire me. This is inspiring.’ Because you saw a leading lady, you saw a showrunner, you saw a director, and you saw they were all black women. That’s huge. That’s huge! Mind-blowing,” Barrois said. “We’re trying to make it the norm. The more we normalize it, the more it will continue to happen.”

So perhaps it’s Hollywood that is actually having the moment? Perhaps the industry has caught up to what real people navigating life look like and this series is a direct response to it? “Whenever you’re a woman and you’re a person of color, you’re trying to move up the ladder. Those are the demons you are fighting with every day: being sort of undermined, being counted out and being told you can’t get something. That’s been a theme in my career, and I’ve always said [to] the people who told me no, I’m going to get a yes,” Barrois said. “There has to be some sort of inner belief that’s bigger than the societal belief.”

Nash certainly believes it so. It’s what has guided her all these years. “The three words I’ve always lived by, especially at the beginning of my career, were ‘No Matter What.’ Whatever the price was, I was willing to pay it because I believe what I believe,” Nash said. “And the most important thing for me right now is to continue to raise the bar to challenge myself. To challenge myself in this process. Just to continue to push myself in ways to say, ‘You can do this. You can do that. You can try this.’ ”

Daily Dose: 6/2/17 Charles Oakley is not letting the Knicks off the hook

Friday is National Doughnut Day. Personally, I’m a guy who likes plain ones, aka old-fashioned doughnut. Not very exciting.

So, Thursday was a doozy. The president of the United States publicly declared war on science, without actually doing so. By pulling out of the Paris Agreement on climate change, he’s basically said that this country doesn’t need the world for anything and he’s not afraid to test that theory, even when it comes to the health of the globe. Now his aides are scrambling to defend that decision, and it’s getting awkward. No one wants to say out loud that Trump thinks climate change is a hoax, including Kellyanne Conway.

It appears things are improving in Chicago. Which is a good thing for the city and also for all the people who like to cite the Windy City every time some situation comes up in which we need to address police violence. “What about black-on-black crime in Chicago?” is the constant refrain. Well, while the numbers are still unacceptably high for homicides and shootings, they are going down in 2017. But speaking of heinous crimes, this also happened recently in Chicago, which is terrifying.

Wonder Woman comes out Friday, but I’m already a fan. Mainly because a theater in Texas decided to hold a woman-only screening of the film and dudes across the nation flipped out because they just couldn’t bear the thought of being denied something based on their gender. The irony is obvious. But on top of that, this just looks like a really good movie, as WW is an awesome character. Here’s everything you need to know about the movie before you see it, in case it’s been a while since you visited that universe.

Charles Oakley is not messing around when it comes to the New York Knicks. Remember a while back when he decided he was going to put his hands on Madison Square Garden security and yell at the team owner from his seat? He got physically removed for that stunt. Yeah, it was special. Well, both sides still believe they were in the right, and this whole thing is actually going to court. Mind you, Oak had a chance to agree to a scenario in which the charges were dropped, but he’d rather fight. This is not going to end well for anyone.

Free Food

Coffee Break: What is a Black Dandy, you ask? On a simple level, it’s someone who dresses better than you, because he can and he wants to. But, in the case of one photographer, the meaning is a lot larger than just fashion. It’s about portrayal and stereotyping, and her new project looks to shatter some old molds.

Snack Time: If the only thing we get from Ice Cube’s 3-on-3 league is the possibility of the sport getting to the Olympics, it’ll be a success. The FIBA tourney is always a pleasure, and it looks like it’s on the table for 2020.

Dessert: Party Next Door blessed us with some new music for the weekend. Enjoy.

Summer TV 2017: 13 cool shows to dive into when the summer sun gets too hot A crack origin story, rowdy manicurists, raucous NFL stars — Issa summer of the good, the bad, and the boujee

The dog days of summer will soon be upon us, which, for many of us, means escaping sticky heat and stifling humidity by heading for more air-conditioned climates, especially ones with screens. Of course it’s blockbuster season, but if you just can’t pull yourself from the sofa, there’s a plethora of summer TV options too. Now that Underground and Pitch have both been canceled, perhaps you can find a new favorite. Here are a few series, both new and returning, that merit some attention, if not straight-up bingeing.

Still Star-Crossed

Premieres: May 31

Where: ABC

Shonda Rhimes’ latest offering, Still Star-Crossed, is off to a bit of a rocky start ratingswise, but it’s certainly an interesting premise. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Melinda Taub (who also writes for TBS’ Full Frontal with Samantha Bee), Rhimes picks up where The Bard left off with Romeo and Juliet, imagining a war between the rival Montague and Capulet families of Verona, Italy, after the deaths of their teenage star-crossed lovers. Get it? Still star-crossed?

Orange Is the New Black

Premieres: June 9

Where: Netflix

Finally, the fifth season of one of Netflix’s best shows, Orange is the New Black, is returning, and it does not disappoint. The series that focuses on an all-female prison picks up the narrative right back where we left it: seeing an inmate holding a gun over a guard and ready to shoot. One character we get to really see some depth from this year is Danielle Brooks’ Tasty, who really emerges and gives us emotional complexity like we haven’t witnessed before. We’ve seen half of the new season so far and won’t give away any spoilers, but you’ll likely binge-watch all the new episodes in one fell swoop. Per usual.

Claws

Premieres: June 11

Where: TNT

As NBA Finals melodrama dies down, Claws is featuring more action than LeBron and ’nem could ever hope to make good on. This new series stars Niecy Nash as a woman with aspirations greater than what’s in front of her. Prepare for much pearl-clutching and jaw-dropping and oh-my-goshing while you take in this completely unpredictable series. It will keep you guessing, and it will have you cheering for characters you didn’t expect to shake pompoms for.

Queen Sugar

Premieres: June 20-21 (two-night premiere)

Where: OWN

Well, Charley Bordelon (Dawn-Lyen Gardner) has dumped her loser husband — or started moving in that direction, anyhow — and she’s this close to getting her own sugar refinery. What could possibly go wrong? While Queen Sugar continues to examine family dynamics and wealth, it’s also continuing its look at a Louisiana justice system that is especially hard on young black men and boys and the people who care for them. Oh, and the fabulous Aunt Vi (Tina Lifford) remains forever young at heart — this season she’s dipping out in a crop top!

G.L.O.W.

Premieres: June 23

Where: Netflix

Holy Lycra and blue eye shadow, what do we have here? Netflix’s new series G.L.O.W. stars Alison Brie as Ruth Wilder, an actress in 1980s Los Angeles who just wants a decent part for once. We’re still demanding this for actresses now — the ’80s must have been rough. Anyhow, Miss Ruth finds her way into the world of ladies’ wrestling, a world filled with drama, rivalries and some seriously scary athletes. It also features Britney Young and Sydelle Noel.

Power

Premieres: June 25

Where: Starz

The countdown for the return of Power, of one of the sexiest, most tweet-able series to ever hit flat-screens has finally begun. We last left Ghost (Omari Hardwick) as he was headed to prison for a murder he actually didn’t commit (not that he’s above catching a body, though). Chances are good he won’t be locked up for very long. Catch up on all of last season, here.

All or Nothing: A Season with the L.A. Rams

Premieres: June 30

Where: Amazon Prime

If HBO’s Hard Knocks is a show all about optimism as it winds through the early days of training camp (when everyone has a shot) toward the nail-biting of roster cuts, All or Nothing is decidedly more … bleak. Well, it is this season, as it looks backward on the Rams’ awful, terrible, no-good, very bad 4-12 season. There’s a high probability that you can watch and comfort yourself with this thought: At least my team doesn’t suck as much as those guys. Also: Jeff Fisher gets fired.

Snowfall

Premieres: July 5

Where: FX

If there’s a shop that knows what to do with a compelling, offbeat limited series, it’s FX. So far, the chapter-iffic ratings bonanzas that FX has enjoyed have come from American Horror Story and Feud creator Ryan Murphy and, of course, Noah Hawley’s Fargo, but Snowfall is a sumptuously colored new drama from co-creators Eric Amadio, John Singleton and Dave Andron examining the beginnings of crack cocaine in 1983 Los Angeles. Snowfall follows the crack epidemic from multiple angles: through the eyes of a small-time weed dealer who’s trying to grow his business, a Mexican wrestler, a crime lord’s daughter and a CIA operative.

Insecure

Premieres: July 23

Where: HBO

Lawrence, Lawrence, Lawrence. And Issa. Why do y’all do the things that y’all do? The closing seconds of Issa Rae’s first season of Insecure divided us — for the most part — along gender lines, and this new season is ripe for a group watch. Will Lawrence and Issa get back together? Time will tell. But, Issa, girl, you’ve got some things to atone for.

Ballers

Premieres: July 23

Where: HBO

Dwayne Johnson’s show, Ballers, about life after football, hit its stride last season: We got to see some deep dives from actors like London Brown, who portrays the show’s trifling character, Reggie. (You know you’re trifling, Reggie.) We’re also looking forward to seeing the dramatic complexities that John David Washington excellently pulls off. Catch up on last season, here.

Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Premieres: Aug. 8

Where: HBO

It almost doesn’t matter which team is featured on this most excellent docuseries, Hard Knocks, which HBO puts together during every preseason — you have to watch. It’s such a good behind-the-scenes, in-the-locker-room and in-the-coach’s-office look at life in the NFL. This season’s team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: all eyes on embattled quarterback Jameis Winston.

Marvel’s The Defenders

Premieres: Aug. 18

Where: Netflix

Because everything in the comic book universe is intertwined with everything else in it, we get Marvel’s The Defenders, which is sort of like the Netflix series version of Avengers but with different heroes. In this case, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, Daredevil and Iron Fist will unite their crime-fighting powers. Highlight: Rosario Dawson returns as nurse Claire Temple, one of the characters who provides the glue linking all of these series together in the first place.

Survivor’s Remorse

Premieres: TBA

Where: Starz

Survivor’s Remorse writers give themselves plenty to work with in the upcoming fourth season. The hit comedy follows the exploits of Atlanta pro basketball star Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher) and his family, and we left off with M-Chuck (Erica Ash) in Boston seeking answers about her father, the man who raped her mother, Cassie (Tichina Arnold). This season, the Calloways will have some new company: Isaiah Washington and Vanessa Bell Calloway join the cast: Washington portrays Cam’s father, and Calloway plays the mother of Missy (Teyonah Parris). Catch up on last season here.

LeBron James spoke of Emmett Till on the eve of the NBA Finals Racist graffiti stops talk of basketball in Oakland

OAKLAND, California — The day before he was to play on basketball’s biggest stage, LeBron James spoke about what it’s like to be one of the world’s most famous athletes and still not be immune from having racist graffiti scrawled on the front gate of your home.

As he sat on the dais at a news conference Wednesday afternoon in Oracle Arena, he somberly brought up the memory of lynching victim Emmett Till and his open casket.

“Hate in America, especially for African-Americans, is living every day,” he said, and we all sat up in the room and listened closely.

“And even though it’s concealed most of the time, we know people hide their faces and will say things about you when they see that smile on your face. It’s alive every single day. I think back to Emmett Till’s mom actually, and the reason that she had an open casket is because she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime and being black in America.

“No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. We’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African-Americans until we feel equal in America.”

The front gate of a home belonging to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James is freshly repainted Wednesday in Los Angeles. Police are investigating after someone spray-painted a racial slur on the gate on the eve of the NBA Finals.

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

Welcome to the NBA Finals, America. Welcome to our diseased country, where Mamie Till’s decision to publicly show her 14-year-old son’s mutilated body, lynched in 1955 Mississippi, is on the heart and mind of the world’s greatest player today.

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the graffiti — reportedly the N-word — spray-painted outside his Los Angeles home, an early morning discovery that was eventually relayed to the owner, who is here preparing to lead the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 on Thursday night. It is being characterized as a hate crime.

And here’s the thing: Like any father whose domicile has been violated, James wishes he were home to speak with his children about the sickness and senselessness that makes people scrawl such things on a black man’s gate. He doesn’t want to be here at the moment, and who can blame him?

He spoke on the same day a noose was found at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. According to the U.S. Park Police, tourists found the noose inside the museum’s exhibition on segregation Wednesday afternoon. This came after a noose was found hanging from a tree outside the nearby Hirshhorn Museum on the National Mall on May 26.

In its statement condemning the act, the Smithsonian referenced nooses hung on the “Duke University campus, the Port of Oakland in California, a fraternity house at the University of Maryland, a middle school in Maryland, and at a high school in Lakewood, California. All of them seem to be part of a larger wave of violence, intimidation and hate crimes.”

Coast to coast, we have these evil fractals flying around, meteorites of racial division. And James sits there, calmly, purposefully, unable to talk about “The Block” from Game 7 last year or the Cavaliers-Warriors trilogy. Because real race talk just invaded the Finals.

This is sadly where we are, people: A professional sports arena, perhaps the most unsegregated place in the nation — at least since the late 1960s — is now just another place to talk about how far apart we still are.

Rather than a gripping NBA rivalry, James spoke of unceasing racism. About regretting that he could not be home to talk to his kids in person, about what a messy, sad world we live in Wednesday night instead of FaceTiming them.

“As I sit here on the eve of one of the greatest sporting events that we have in sports, race and what’s going on comes again,” he began. “On my behalf and my family’s behalf, but I look at it as, if this is to shed a light and keep the conversation going, on my behalf, then I’m OK with it. My family is safe. They’re safe, and that’s the most important. But it just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America.”

James got up and walked out of the room. I wanted to tell him how sorry I was that he had to deal with something like that, how sorry I was that any person of color has to consistently compartmentalize the venom and hurt that keeps coming from inside sick folks’ hearts just to do their jobs and get through the day.

But the next time I saw James, moments later, he was laughing with teammates on the practice floor of the Oracle, dunking playfully in a 94-foot hardwood sanctuary.

James was moving on, moving forward — in a world that still acts stuck in 1955 Mississippi.

LeBron James’ home vandalized Reports say someone painted N-word on side of house

When it comes to intimidation, spray-painting someone’s home is about as intimate as it gets for nonviolent crime. As someone who’s been an advocate of street art my whole life, there are still certain things that are considered off-limits, to an extent. Houses are one of them. But more importantly, the use of racial slurs in such a situation is clearly an act of aggression designed to scare through racism.

Someone decided to go that route on one of LeBron James’ homes in the Los Angeles area recently. According to TMZ, the slur in question was the N-word, leading me to believe that the person who did this was at least 40 years old, if I’m gonna wildly speculate. The N-word as an aggressive stand-alone tactic is just old-school enough for me to think that anyone who deploys it in such a way is used to hearing it basically in that context alone.

Because the NBA Finals start Thursday, this will probably turn into a much bigger story than if it were August, but nonetheless, it’s still a pretty scary violation of property.

Summer 2017 movies are full of melanin and just plain cool John Boyega, Rihanna, Kevin Hart, Kerry Washington and ‘Tupac’: an opinionated summer film guide

All that hot weather we’ve been wishing, hoping and praying for has finally arrived — so now it’s time to head indoors! Go ahead and pack your snacks — and stuff ’em far down in your purse: Summer movie (and blockbuster) season is upon us. A number of highly anticipated films are finally hitting the multiplex, and The Undefeated Culture team has you covered on which ones are worth ordering online in advance. Now, let’s all go to the movies!


Baywatch | May 25

Frank Masi/Paramount Pictures

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Directed by: Seth Gordon

Featuring: Dwayne Johnson, Priyanka Chopra, Zac Efron, Ilfenesh Hadera

Baywatch? More like Baewatch, amirite? Either way, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s new film surely will be an excellent introduction to summer blockbusters everywhere. At 45, and fresh off so much success of The Fate of the Furious that there’s talk of his own spinoff, Johnson is at his absolute best. He can do big-deal movie thrillers, premium cable TV shows, prime-time network sketch comedy or just about anything else he decides to take on. In this film, he brings David Hasselhoff’s beloved ’90s TV series to the big screen and teaches a new recruit (played by Efron) the tricks of the trade, all in the name of solving a big old criminal plot. We smell what’s cooking.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie | June 2

Studio: DreamWorks Animation and Scholastic Entertainment

Directed by: David Soren

Featuring: Kevin Hart, Jordan Peele, Ed Helms

Kevin Hart already took home an award for Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie — well, sort of. After the animated film’s late May premiere, Hart presented and jokingly accepted the award for “top collaboration” at the Billboard Music Awards with Underpants co-star Helms. In the film, based upon Dav Pilkey’s best-selling children’s novel series, Hart voices fourth-grader George Beard, who teams up with his best friend Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch) to hypnotize their cruel school principal, Mr. Krupp (Helms), into believing he’s Captain Underpants, the hero of the comics that George and Harold write together. Peele follows up his critically acclaimed thriller Get Out as the voice of George and Harold’s nemesis: child prodigy Melvin Sneedly. Watch out, Despicable Me 3Captain Underpants might just be the best animated movie of the summer.

Wonder Woman | June 2

Studio: DC Entertainment

Directed by: Patty Jenkins

Featuring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright

Some of us have been waiting for a Wonder Woman feature film since Lynda Carter twirled her way into superhero lore back in the ’70s. So, stakes is high (as De La Soul would say) for the first female-led film to flesh out the mythic story of Princess Diana since Jennifer Garner portrayed Elektra in 2005. Israeli actress Gal Gadot, best known for playing Gisele Yashar in the unstoppable Fast & Furious movie franchise, is the perfect behind-kicking, take-no-prisoners crime fighter.

The Mummy | June 9

Studio: K/O Paper Products and Sean Daniel Company

Directed by: Alex Kurtzman

Featuring: Courtney B. Vance, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella

Courtney B. Vance continues to ride high on his Emmy-winning portrayal of famed attorney Johnnie Cochran in FX’s The People vs. O.J. Simpson. In Mummy month, Vance takes on his newest challenge, starring alongside Cruise, Wallis and Boutella in a reboot of the box office series that Brendan Fraser made an international success (and inspired a roller coaster!). Vance plays a colonel in the film.

All Eyez on Me | June 16

Studio: Morgan Creek Productions

Directed by: Benny Boom

Featuring: Demetrius Shipp Jr., Jamal Woolard, Danai Gurira, Jamie Hector

After years of setbacks and legal dramas, the life and times of Tupac Shakur will hit the big screen in one of the most anticipated films of the year. Shakur’s saga has been the subject of seemingly countless documentaries since his 1996 murder, including a highly anticipated Steve McQueen-directed doc, but Eyez ranks as the first time ’Pac’s story receives the biopic treatment. And, much like the man himself, the film doesn’t come without its share of controversy. Shakur’s family does not support the movie, according to sources. So it’ll be interesting to see how the depiction of rap’s most beloved martyr plays out.

Cars 3 | June 16

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios

Directed by: Brian Fee

Featuring: Kerry Washington, Owen Wilson, Tony Shalhoub, Chris Cooper

If you’ve got the kids with you, it’s probably best you don’t take them to see All Eyez On Me. However, variety is the spice of life, and while Kerry Washington is the proud mom of Isabelle, 2, and Caleb, 5 months, it’s going to be a while before they understand the significance of mom’s fabled role as Olivia Pope on ABC’s Scandal. That being said, it’s easy to imagine Mama Washington as very happy showing her kids her first animated role. She’ll be playing Natalie Certain. In her words, Certain is the “super-smarty-pants statistician” who “knows everything there is to know about the ins and outs of statistics when it comes to racing.” Vroom.

Transformers : The Last Knight | June 21

Studio: di Bonaventura Pictures and Hasbro Studios

Directed by: Michael Bay

Featuring: Tyrese, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael, Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Chan, Stanley Tucci

C’mon, son. Not another Transformers movie. This is the fifth installment of the series that debuted in 2007 with Shia LaBeouf in the lead. With Michael Bay in the director’s chair, these films are guaranteed to be action-packed, and people love them enough to have turned Transformers into a billion-dollar franchise. But, man, the plots of the past few movies have been absolute struggles, and now Mark Wahlberg is the main character. Meh. Will we go see Transformers: The Last Knight this summer? Probably. Only to support the homie Tyrese, though.

The Bad Batch | June 23

Studio: Annapurna Pictures and VICE Films

Directed by: Ana Lily Amirpour

Featuring: Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Suki Waterhouse, Giovanni Ribisi, Jim Carrey

So there are cannibals. Yep. From the director of the buzzy “first Iranian vampire Western” emerges a film around a bunch of steroid-abusing weightlifters living in a camp based in what screams dystopian America. There’s a cult leader in another place called Comfort, and everything seems to be a comment on everything going on right now in real life. The film has been called “creepy … savage,” and if that’s your cup of tea, with Lisa Bonet’s husband Jason Momoa on deck as well, then your summer is already made.

Baby Driver | Aug. 11

Studio: Big Talk Productions, Working Title Films and Media Rights Capital

Directed by: Edgar Wright

Featuring: Tyrese, Isabela Moner, Jerrod Carmichael, Mark Wahlberg, Gemma Chan, Stanley Tucci

Yasssss to having a tiny bit of anticipation for this film: It’s been described as “an action movie … powered by music.” Prepare yourself for some laughs now, ’cause Driver — though Wright calls it “visceral, darker, more cynical” — is sure to spark an LOL or two or three. We haven’t seen Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey in the same film since Seth Gordon’s 2011 Horrible Bosses, and they had us cracking up, all up and through there. This action-packed “dark” comedy is the fix you need if you like fast cars, crime and humor. It involves a not-well-planned heist that could take a wrong turn at any time. The getaway driver is a kid named Baby who was browbeaten into working for the biggest boss (Spacey, not Rick Ross) in the crime business. Foxx plays the role of Bats, part of the crime crew.

Spider-Man: Homecoming | July 27

Studio: Marvel Studios

Directed by: Jon Watts

Featuring: Donald Glover, Marisa Tomei, Tom Holland, Zendaya, Michael Keaton, Hannibal Buress, Tyne Daly, Bokeem Woodbine, Garcelle Beauvais

Peter Parker just wants to be a normal kid. But we all know he can’t be because of a bite from a genetically modified gangster spider that gives him superhuman spidey qualities. We’re thrilled about this reboot because it’ll be far more multicultural than we’ve seen from this series before — joining the cast are Zendaya as the super-smart Michelle, Buress as a know-nothing gym teacher and Bokeem Woodbine as Shocker, a criminal who is going to give Spider-Man a run for his web. Also in this film are Garcelle Beauvais and Donald Glover. It’s lit!

Wish Upon | July 14

Studio: Busted Shark Productions

Directed by: John Leonetti

Featuring: Sydney Park, Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Sherilyn Fenn

Basically: a super-scary movie about being careful what you wish for. King, who was so great in 2013’s The Conjuring, gets seven wishes from her hoarder dad, and what had been a life of embarrassment and sadness is suddenly all gravy — until it isn’t. The Walking Dead’s Park (formerly of Nickelodeon’s Instant Mom) is in a classic best friend role.

Lady Macbeth | July 14

Studio: BBC Films

Director: William Oldroyd

Featuring: Cosmo Jarvis, Florence Pugh, Paul Hilton, Naomi Ackie, Christopher Fairbank

Having already made its way around the festival circuit to rave reviews, this film, set in Victorian England and focused clearly on “themes of abuse, violence, race and class,” is a summer thriller you can’t miss. Plus, it apparently has “more black characters than all the Austens and Downtons put together.” A racially ambiguous Cosmo Jarvis stars opposite his lover, lady of the house Florence Pugh. Naomi Ackie plays a maid, but this is not The Help. An adaptation of Nikolai Leskov’s 1865 Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, this film is noir-ish, it’s sexy and, perhaps most alluring of all, it’s quite the opposite of the typical, whitewashed 19th-century period film.

War for the Planet of the Apes | July 14

Studio: Chernin Entertainment

Director: Matt Reeves

Featuring: Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer, Andy Serkis

Break out your “Rest In Peace Harambe” T-shirts for this one. Our boy Harambe surely would’ve gone down swinging in the epic battle between apes and humans that will be depicted in July’s War for the Planet, the third installment of the Planet of the Apes reboot, which began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 and followed up with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in 2014. It’s tough to pick sides between the apes, led by their intelligent king chimpanzee Caesar, and the humans, led by Col. McCullough, who’s played by the one and only Woody Harrelson. Harambe will be cheering on his homies from heaven.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets | July 21

Studio: EuropaCorp and Fundamental Films

Directed by: Luc Besson

Featuring: Rihanna, Cara Delevingne, Herbie Hancock

If you’re into sci-fi flicks where groups of species live in perfect harmony appreciating diverse cultures and experiences until an antagonist threatens to destroy everything with a pulse, this one’s for you. As it relates to Rihanna? The “Needed Me” singer stars as a shape-shifting entertainer named Bubble, and director Luc Besson described her as a complete joy to work with. The futuristic thriller is just the latest in a growing thespian résumé for RihRih. She starred as Marion Crane in the final season of Bates Motel and has a leading role in the new Ocean’s Eleven all-ladies-everything adaptation, Ocean’s Eight.

Girls Trip | July 21

Studio: Will Packer Productions

Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee

Featuring: Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish

We’ve never seen black women on film like this before — sex-positive, carefree and ready for the turn-up. From producer extraordinaire Will Packer, four college friends reunite and head down to New Orleans for the Essence Festival seeking a much-needed reprieve from the melodramas of everyday life. The girls are on tilt: A lot of raunchy, good-natured fun goes down — and we’re all the way here for it.

The Dark Tower | Aug. 4

Studio: Weed Road Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and Media Rights Capital

Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel

Featuring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Abbey Lee, Katheryn Winnick

Yo, Stringer Bell is back! The fine-as-hell criminal mastermind is not playing with these Dominican and Greek drug lords who are out here trying to mess with his money on the rough streets of Baltimore. OK, that’s a lie. But some of us love The Wire and Idris Elba so much that things like movie plots, co-stars and origin story revelations are completely immaterial. So: all right, fine. Elba plays the last Gunslinger, a heroic savior in Stephen King’s sci-fi multiverse book series of the same name. He’s trying to save the Dark Tower from falling and keep civilization from crumbling, or some such thing. Whatever. Did we mention that Idris Elba is in it and has, like, a lot of scenes in the whole movie? Yeah, some of us are very excited.

Detroit | Aug. 4

Studio: Annapurna Pictures

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Featuring: John Boyega, Jason Mitchell, Anthony Mackie

Please, please, please let this film, which is a kind of behind-the-scenes of the 1967 Detroit riots, be on the up-and-up. Folks were nervous (and rightly so) because, according to the initial trailer and the IMDB credit list, there appears to be an erasure of black women. From the director of Zero Dark Thirty, this film is poised to tell the story of the horrifyingly relevant Algiers Motel Incident that occurred during the 1967 racial unrest in the Motor City, which was then perhaps the most industrially significant city in the nation.

Ingrid Goes West | Aug. 4

Studio: Star Thrower Entertainment and 141 Entertainment

Directed by: Matt Spicer

Featuring: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, Wyatt Russell and Billy Magnussen

O’Shea Jr. takes on his next big screen task — but this time he’s not playing his famous father. Instead, it’s a supporting role as Aubrey Plaza’s love interest in the dark comedy that won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at this year’s Sundance Festival. Jackson credited his real-life love of Batman, of all things, with helping him land the role: His character in the film is a screenwriter obsessed with the legendary superhero.

Nutjob 2: Nutty by Nature | Aug. 11

Studio: ToonBox Entertainment, Red Rover International and Gulfstream Pictures

Directed by: Cal Brunker

Featuring: Maya Rudolph, Gabriel Iglesias, Will Arnett, Jackie Chan, Katherine Heigl

Listen. Maya Rudolph and all her “funniness” can never steer you wrong, even in animation. Whether you’re planning a staycation with the kids or you want to keep them busy on a random day, this summer movie will do the trick. Nutjob 2: Nutty By Nature picks up with Surly Squirrel and his homies. This time they are battling the evil mayor of Oakton, who is trying to get rid of their home, Liberty Park, to build an amusement park. But these animal friends are not at all here for it. They’re taking back their territory.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard | Aug. 18

Studio: Millennium Films and Cristal Pictures

Directed by: Patrick Hughes

Featuring: Samuel L. Jackson, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman

What we do know is there is a whole lot of profanity in this R-rated buddy movie: Jackson is a superefficient hitman who must be guarded by the exasperated Reynolds. Not every black and white character-driven smart-guy bromance can be the original 1982 48 Hrs. But here’s hoping?

Just another day for ‘The Bachelorette’ with its first black woman as the lead, the reality dating show avoids any land mines

It could have been a mess. It probably should have been a disaster. But Rachel Lindsay’s grace, a screaming goofball and one Colombian chiropractor made the season premiere of ABC’s 21st season of The Bachelorette exactly what they wanted it to be: just another episode.

With the first black woman to take the title role of the show, there was a reasonable amount of pressure. This isn’t just some goofball show for girlfriends drinking wine on the couch anymore. It’s one of the network’s premier brands, so much so that it pre-empted its own storyline last season in the flagship show to make sure America knew that Lindsay was its newest star.

But in a country where black schoolgirls are still going to court over how they wear their hair to school, the opportunities for pitfalls were obvious. When it comes to attitudes about so-called traditional standards of beauty, mixed with show business and throw in a healthy dose of likely toxic masculinity, having a black woman as the center of attention was a potential recipe for someone to say something really not OK and get checked on camera.

Quite a few longtime watchers of the show were bracing themselves for the usual tropes of Lindsay’s beauty being described as exotic, or an extension of something we saw at the end of The Bachelor last season, when Dean, a startup recruiter, on live television said to a newly introduced Bachelorette Rachel, “I’m ready to go black and I’m never going to go back.” While it was not an outright racist thing to say, it was certainly cringeworthy, and everyone knew it.

This time, when Dean came out of the limo, his attitude was far more demure and he knew he had an uphill battle to win Rachel’s heart after that stunt. In general, though, her being black is certainly not something she plans on shying away from when it comes to promoting the show, thankfully.

In an interview with espnW’s Katie Barnes, she talked about what that meant to her. “It’s huge. It’s very humbling to be the first. It was something that, I’ll admit, I was scared to do,” Lindsay said. “I have the opportunity to represent myself as a black woman to America, and show them that just because I’m black doesn’t mean my search for love has to be any different. There’s a lot of brave people that have paved the way for me to even have the opportunity to be the first black ‘Bachelorette.’ ”


As for Monday night’s episode, it was every bit the madcap foolishness that we’ve come to know and love. One guy wore a penguin suit, then later claimed he’s both black and white (get it?). Another brought a legit ice block and a sledgehammer and another went so far as to dress up like Steve Urkel on Family Matters, before re-emerging from the limo as Stefan.

At this stage of the game, there are far too many personalities to break down each one, but the three standouts were obvious. Aside from my man Lucas, who was only there to sell T-shirts with his catchphrase on it and angered the whole house the entire time with his antics. Don’t hate, I bought one.

The Natural Fit

Josiah is a prosecuting attorney who turned around his life of crime as a youth to become a guy working in actual courtrooms as an adult. He brought a little legal jargon humor to the table as his intro, which was predictable, yet adorable. He did refer to himself in the third person a couple of times, which was awkward, and he also used the ultrapossessive terminology of “making someone my wife,” but we’ll have to look past that for now. He seems genuine.

The Playboy

DeMario was one of the guys who appeared after the rose ceremony from last season’s The Bachelor, but also was the clear standout after the initial bios were released. He also is a relative pretty boy and was very confident in himself, a trait that Rachel said she enjoyed quite a bit. An executive recruiter by trade, he also seemed like the leader of the cool guy crew, which should be an interesting development as this goes on.

The Family Man

Kenny was one of the contestants who got an extended look in the initial bio segment of the first hour of the show, leading us to believe he’ll likely go relatively far in this competition. He’s a professional wrestler with a 7-year-old daughter, so there’s an automatic soft spot for him. He also did the Deion Sanders touchdown dance on his way into the house, so he scores points with me.

The Ego Maniac

In Blake’s initial introduction, he made no less than 500 references to his penis. That might be an exaggeration, but it was such a strange way to bring him in. Then, he decided that being a part of a marching band was the way he wanted to make his entrance and initial introduction to Rachel, and didn’t say one word about his package. Very confusing. He also took it very personally that Lucas, aka Mr. Whaboomski, made the cut, which should make for an interesting scene down the line.

The Lothario

We mentioned him earlier, but Bryan was the one who stepped to the first episode with the clearest game plan of all. He started off by speaking Spanish to Rachel in what we presume was designed to be a seductive manner, then acted surprised when she understood a bit of it, which was a tad condescending. He then went on to point out that because he’s a chiropractor he’s good with his hands, which again, was rather lame. But, he was also the guy who made the first aggressive move and kissed Rachel. It happened not once, but twice, the second time after he received the first impression rose. My man had the full two hand-head grab approach to making out, too, giving the impression that he’s got a decent side career as a soap opera actor should this not work out. He also dropped a “gurl,” which we’ll just take note of for later. Either way, homey is in the lead.


Overall, they avoided the monster storyline of race and got through two hours without too many awkward situations surrounding race. The “Scenes from The Season” portion led to all sorts of speculation about drama down the line, but for the moment, no one here appears to be trying to satisfy a fetish of being with a black woman or out to prove how nonracist he is while simultaneously trying to find love. Maybe we’ll get through this whole thing without incident.

Most people seem to be there for the right reasons, which is either Rachel or Hollywood fame. If they can manage to keep up this facade for 11 more episodes, it should be a good season. But the second that all the brothas decide they want to start boxing out the white guys, things will get interesting. Until then, it’s all daps and backslaps.

Tierra Wilkins contributed to this report.

Daily Dose: 5/22/17 Sasheer Zamata exits ‘SNL’ with zero fanfare

If you missed The Morning Roast on Sunday, Mina Kimes was back from Korea, and we talked about the NBA and where we are in the playoffs at this point. Also, some more French lessons from your boy.

Here’s a new segment we call: This Week in Racist Nonsense and Terror. We’ll start in Maryland, where a white supremacist decided to randomly kill a black man and we’ve still got to act like there’s some sort of question as to whether this was a hate crime. Moving to Louisiana, a state representative said that lawmakers should be lynched for taking down Confederate monuments in New Orleans. There’s also this woman in Virginia. And, oh, yeah, in case you forgot, the Nazis were highly inspired by the U.S. system of racial oppression.

Saturday Night Live‘s season finale was awkward. In it, Dwyane Johnson was the host and Katy Perry decided she was going to really embarrass herself during her performance of “Bon Appetit” with Migos. For whatever reason, she feels the need to try to act black instead of just being herself. It’s extremely hard to watch, in fact. But, also, Sasheer Zamata is leaving the show, although you never would have known that from the sketches Saturday night. These so-called diversity problems at SNL are more like “we just don’t really want outsiders.”

There are zoos and then there are game reserves. There are also animal parks in certain parts of the world where, when you get to see them, you get a completely different perspective on just how cruel big-game hunting is. Most animals, obviously, are just trying to live out their short lives like everyone else, and idiots with superiority complexes and greedy pockets trying to ruin them really are the worst. So, when a hunter gets crushed to death by an elephant, it’s hard to feel bad on any level.

If you didn’t think the Las Vegas Raiders games were going to be nuts, think again. No. 1, it’s the Raiders. They have one of the craziest fan bases in the NFL, the type of people who would probably find a way to make the trip from the Bay Area for eight weeks a year just so they could dress up in all their black-and-silver glory. But now, the Vegas factor comes into play. You will now be allowed to legally place wagers from inside the stadium on your phone during games. Aka, mobile betting on exactly what you’re watching in front of you. What a world.

Free Food

Coffee Break: At the Billboard Music Awards on Sunday night, Diddy took the stage to commemorate what would have been the Notorious B.I.G.’s birthday and also bring his son out to introduce him to the world. He also debuted the trailer for a new documentary he’s got coming out about Bad Boy Records. It looks incredible.

Snack Time: The homey Snoop Dogg is still making music, which makes me extremely happy in general. His new album is chock-full of awesome guests, so you should check it out. You can stream it here.

Dessert: The latest season of The Pengest Munch has closed. Eat lunch first, because you’ll be hungry after.