Karyn Bryant, Kenny Florian and Yves Edwards get you ready for Saturday's fights in Pittsburgh.
Black people don’t travel, right? That notion has long ago been wiped away. And just because summer is winding down, that doesn’t mean your travel plans have to. Here is a list of books — memoirs, travel guides, glossies — from ’93 up to now that are sure to plant some ideas for your next getaway.
We’ve also included blogs to experience and some hashtags that are vibrant and helpful across many social platforms. Your eyes will be opened to new travel inspirations, options and opportunities. Get out there!
South of Haunted Dreams: A Ride Through Slavery’s Old Back Yard by Eddy L. Harris (May 1993)
Eddy L. Harris road-trips through the South on a motorcycle and recounts his experiences being black and searching for his ancestors.
Go Girl! The Black Woman’s Book of Travel and Adventure edited by Elaine Lee (August 1997)
Steppin’ Out: An African American Guide to our 20 Favorite Cities by Carla LaBat (September 2000)
The still-timely guide for the African-American sightseer.
Kat Tracking Through Paris: A Guide to Black Paris by Kay St. Thomas (June 2002)
This guide keeps the black traveler in mind, with notes on venues that hosted famous jazz performers such as Nina Simone and Kenny Clarke.
In the Spirit of Harlem by Naomi Fertitta (March 2014)
Sometimes you don’t have to fly across an ocean to travel, as this beautiful photo book of Harlem proves.
The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors by James E. Mills (October 2014)
Due North by Lola Akinmade Åkerström (May 2017)
When you fully immerse yourself into the culture you’re visiting, this book is the result: an in-depth observation of the ways travel changes you and the people around you.
Black Woman Walking: A Different Experience of World Travel by Maureen Stone (February 2002)
It’s exactly what is sounds like: A black woman walks across the world and tells her side of the story.
In the Spirit of St. Barths by Pamela Fiori (April 2011)
This is the perfect coffee-table book for when you’re dreaming of a Caribbean getaway.
Meeting Faith: The Forest Journals of a Black Buddhist Nun by Faith Adiele (July 2005)
Buddhist and a nun — an unconventional path for a black woman, but Adiele’s personal narrative sheds light on a different kind of Thailand.
The personal blog of Bani Amor, a travel writer who emphasizes a decolonial mindset when venturing out into the world.
A community of curators who showcase their travels from all corners of the globe.
A network for the more outdoorsy.
This niche site caters to all things black Japan.
A travel blog and web series that focus on international and domestic travel.
INSTAGRAM [and follow at Twitter and Facebook as well]
Then-Detroit Pistons star Chauncey Billups and I were nearly in tears from what we saw in a mammoth space inside the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston in September 2005.
There were hundreds of cots occupied primarily by mothers resting with young children and the elderly. They were displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, stressed and trying to figure out what to do next. Whatever possessions they had left sat next to their makeshift beds. The lines for medical help were long. Portable toilets were up front.
With former NBA player Kenny Smith leading the charge, NBA players, including Billups, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, were there to witness the pain, bring financial aid and offer a smile through a charity basketball game.
“It’s hurtful man, hurtful,” Billups told me at the time for a story in The Denver Post. “The only positive is at least these kids got to smile for a couple minutes.”
Hurricane Katrina was one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the United States, causing destruction along the Gulf Coast from Central Florida to Texas and most notably in New Orleans. The August 2005 storm contributed to the deaths of more than 1,200 people and more than $100 billion in property damage. Many people affected by Hurricane Katrina relocated temporarily and then permanently to Houston.
Now Houston is suffering the nightmare that haunted New Orleans 12 years ago. Hurricane Harvey has dumped torrential rain on the city, with ABC News meteorologists forecasting historic rainfall totals of up to 50 inches by Wednesday. Houston has had more than 1,000 calls for rescue, and people were forced to their rooftops.
NBA All-Stars such as James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, James Harden and DeMarcus Cousins have tweeted well-wishes and prayers to the people of Houston and elsewhere in Texas. Paul and Cousins also tweeted information on how to give to those in need through Youcaring.com and the Red Cross. Paul donated $50,000. Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander pledged $4 million to the relief effort on Monday and reportedly increased that donation to $10 million on Tuesday.
Chrysa Chin, executive vice president of strategy and development for the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), said Monday that the union is “exploring options” to help hurricane victims.
“We’re concerned and want to help,” Chin said.
Perhaps this time they can do it in New Orleans, where locals can certainly relate to the pain. Maybe Cousins and fellow New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Anthony Davis — along with Paul, who is president of the NBPA and a former Hornets star — could host a charity game at the Smoothie King Center in The Big Easy. Or maybe Paul and Harden, both Houston Rockets stars, could host it in Houston when possible. If a charity game and weekend is anything like it was in Houston during the 2005 NBA Players Hurricane Relief Game, it could be one of the most fulfilling moments of their NBA careers. It certainly was one of the most memorable moments for me in 18 seasons of covering the NBA.
Turner Sports NBA analyst and ex-Rockets guard Smith spearheaded putting together the star-studded rosters, the venue and television rights in 30 hours. Participating players each gave a minimum of $10,000. More than $1 million in funds, food and goods were collected before the Toyota Center doors opened in Houston. A crowd of 11,416 included Hurricane Katrina survivors, who were given free tickets in the upper deck, while the lower deck seats were sold for charity. The game included Billups, James, Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Allen Iverson, who coached. There was even a brief performance by Kanye West.
“There’s never been a basketball game of more importance,” Smith said at the time.
Anthony cut short a vacation in the Bahamas to play and wore a T-shirt that read, “PRAY.”
“I’m doing this for the cause,” Anthony said.
Before the charity game, emotional NBA players visited several local shelters housing survivors. Then-Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin, who was recovering from knee surgery and didn’t play, donated shoes to the Fishers of Men Christian Church. Former NBA player and New Orleans native Robert Pack was also there. His aunt Debbie Mason was still missing at the time.
Perhaps James best described the emotions the NBA players had that day.
“If you’re not humble, everything we saw today made you put things in perspective,” James said.
It isn’t necessary for the players to do this. But whether it’s a financial donation or an autograph signing or picture taking, that could lessen the pain for a moment.
I’m sure the Hurricane Katrina survivors who went to the charity game or met the players still appreciate the help and smiles they received from the hoop stars 12 years ago. From what I witnessed, those NBA stars gave them great memories during one of the worst times of their lives.
Said then-12-year-old Diamond Hudson of New Orleans: “I wanted to faint when LeBron James kissed me on the forehead. I love every one of these basketball players.”
“It means a lot,” said Ronald Gabriel of Algiers, Louisiana, who landed several NBA player autographs at the time. “It means that they care, mindfully, thoughtfully. It matters.”
Remember when fans went nuts when Carmelo Anthony rocked the hybrid New York Yankees and Mets hat at the Mets’ Citi Field stadium last year?
Carmelo Anthony is here at Citi Field in a half-Yankees, half-Mets hat. pic.twitter.com/ev7J1j0hsK
— Kenny Ducey (@KennyDucey) May 27, 2016
It did really well, according to one of the designers of the hat, Gary Gonzalez.
“I think it made it on every channel on ESPN, and they talked bad about it and it made it better. … The hat sells out every time we put it out,” said Gonzalez.
Gonzalez and Christian Vazquez run a fashion design and retail company, Famous Nobodys. Vazquez is La La Anthony’s brother and Carmelo Anthony’s brother-in-law. Earlier this week, they unveiled their new line or capsule: the “Ca77 God” collaboration. The store started out as an online hat business but expanded into a clothing company.
Gonzalez has been a designer for 12 years. He has worked with big names such as French Montana and The Game. Vazquez is a creative director for Motives Cosmetics and a public speaker, and he manages La La Anthony’s bookings and appearances.
They partnered with Starter, a premium athletic brand. Together they produced three NBA All-Star jackets, which received 109 million impressions (the number of times there is any interaction with the content) on social media and have been worn by Allen Iverson, Chris Rock, DJ Khaled, Carmelo Anthony, Jadakiss, Kenyon Martin, French Montana and others. Last month, they teamed up again to create the NBA Draft Day jackets.
Gonzalez and Vazquez then teamed up with The Compound, a lifestyle branding and marketing company. Together, they produced a line that features the phrase “Ca77 God.” In some religions, the number “7” is a symbolic number. Both Gonzalez and Vazquez think God should be the first entity that one calls on in life.
“In life, no matter whether it’s good or bad or whatever you have going on, that always should be your moment to call God,” said Vazquez.
The Famous Nobodys refers to the owners’ belief that everyone is famous in their own right. The website lists Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner as examples — they are men who rose from obscurity in the Black Lives Matter movement because of their deaths. The storefront opened on April 20, and the symbol depicted on the storefront is a star with a line through it. This is the Nobody symbol, which represents nontraditional paths to achieve success.
For Vazquez, social media is one of these paths. “In this day and age, social media is so powerful, it’s almost like an anti-revolution where you don’t have to go through traditional chains of entertainment to be a star or be a celebrity to be successful to take on that large following,” he said.
Unlike most fashion companies, Famous Nobodys does not release lines according to the season. Within the intimate rectangle-shaped store, they also maintain a 2,500-pound embroidery machine in the back of the shop so they can embroider and then sell their products.
Instead, Vazquez’s strategy is to put out “pieces that are relevant to the time, what’s going on right now with the culture and what the mood of what the climate of the situation is.”
Gonzalez and Vazquez like to work with people who they consider as being “for the culture,” which they define as “what you add to the scene that is already producing greatness.” For example, Gonzalez partnered with Datwon Thomas, editor in chief of Vibe, in 2013 to produce a hat line: Twnty Two.
In January 2015, they all teamed up and created the Nobodys Famous brand, which is now the sister company to Twnty Two. A majority of the hats from Famous Nobodys, like the “Arabic successful” hat and the “Justice or else” hat, were so popular they sold out in less than 24 hours. All of the hats, shirts, camos, jackets and sweatshirts range from $25 to $200.
Working with minorities is a priority for the owners because that’s who they are. Gonzalez is Dominican and Vazquez is Puerto Rican. This is part of the reason they chose to locate the store in Mott Haven, a section of the South Bronx.
According to the last U.S. Census, the South Bronx is made up of mostly black, Latino and Asian communities. Gonzalez grew up in the Bronx, and Vazquez said the New York City borough took care of him when he was going through a low point. Because of these ties, they wanted to add a fashion-centered vibe to a low-income neighborhood that is seeing a rapid increase in rent.
Sinceré Armani came to the “CA77 God” line launch because she likes to stay current on all of the latest fashion brands and believes this brand speaks to artist/rappers. She has worked as a fashion stylist for Nicki Minaj.
“I think the urban world would love it [because] they have dope tag lines on their T-shirts. Its fly, and I think it’s going to take off,” said Armani.
The Famous Nobodys plan to start making book bags, custom hoodies and button-down shirts around September or early October.
Past hurts can make you do strange things — including watching a TV show you know is absurd.
For 15 years, I turned up my nose at The Bachelor and its spin-off, The Bachelorette. When The Bachelor premiered on ABC in 2002, I was too busy raising school-age kids to be distracted by a show in which a bunch of single women cloistered themselves in a secluded mansion to compete for the hand — or other proffered body parts — of a man they’d just met. The show’s setup seemed unlikely to foster true love. I could see why the titular bachelor would enjoy a bevy of attractive females battling for his affection — offering roses to those he wanted to know better and showing the door to those he didn’t. But what sane woman would court such humiliation unless she was A) an aspiring entertainer for whom the exposure could be lucrative, or B) the type who’d do anything to have millions of eyes on her? And in a world in which romantic attraction routinely crosses color lines, the show’s overwhelmingly white cast seemed out of touch. Why bother?
The following year, ABC flipped the script, getting a gaggle of guys to vie for a Bachelorette. Though slightly more amused by the thought of a bunch of men undercutting each other to woo a woman they barely knew, I never considered watching it.
ABC’s announcement in February that it had selected its first black Bachelorette intrigued me in spite of myself. The pool of potential mates for Rachel Lindsay, 31 — a Dallas lawyer who’d been a popular contestant on the last Bachelor — would doubtless be diverse. How would Rachel, the sophisticated daughter of a district judge, negotiate the complex racial dynamics that permeate all of American life when they inevitably surfaced on the show? Would her awareness of the program’s black fans — who’d waited 33 seasons for the franchise to anoint an African-American lead and might understandably have expectations — complicate her choice? A member of the African-American Culture Committee while attending the University of Texas, Rachel — who resembles the Boomerang-era Robin Givens — was open-minded enough to have told white Bachelor Nick Viall she was falling in love with him before he sent her packing. This season, Rachel made it clear she wanted a fiance (“not … a boyfriend”) at the conclusion of her Bachelorette “journey,” and now reports that she is happily engaged to the man she chose from among three finalists in next Monday’s finale.
Although I’m a diehard Dancing with the Stars fan who loves watching klutzy celebs sweat their way to ballroom proficiency, I find most reality TV shows too anti-reality. Anyone who has recorded a smartphone video knows that pointing a camera at people compels them to change everything from their posture to their professed points of view. A dear friend who loves reality shows swears that “people’s veneers inevitably come off.” But how “real” can an engagement that results from such a show be? We’re talking about a relationship forged in a few brief dates with a man fending off dozens of competitors while everyone concerned is stumbling over camera crews and cut off from loved ones and social media.
It’s crazy, right? So why has Rachel’s Bachelorette stint so thoroughly pulled me in? Is it the fun of watching presumably smart people make fools of themselves? Memories of my own distant, wanna-meet-somebody days as a single black woman? Sure. But mostly, it’s been the irresistible weekly prospect of watching black, white, Latino and Asian men employ lying, manipulation, innuendo, self-pity — every trick in the reality TV playbook — to woo a black woman.
Why not? Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lupita and Serena may be desired by millions, but in the real dating world, being a black woman has its challenges. Sisters, who historically are more desirous than other females to date men of their own ethnicity, outnumber black men in most cities. Those willing to look beyond the black-man cohort aren’t always made to feel welcome. Despite the widespread debunking of an infamous Psychology Today blog in which an evolutionary biologist falsely suggested he had scientific evidence that black women are less attractive than other women, it’s easy for a black woman to question her worth in a culture that still glorifies European beauty.
Old wounds can go deep. As a little girl, I swooned over the romantic entreaties offered by men who pursued Disney princesses and rom-com heroines in my favorite movies. So what if none of these damsels with whom they found happily ever after resembled me? Yet, the fact that I was invisible in the love stories I adored may explain why the rapturous declarations offered by Rachel’s suitors feel oddly validating. Where else can you see dozens of attractive men rhapsodizing over a brown-skinned sister’s brilliance and beauty? Whenever Rachel has invited a competitor to join her on a coveted one-on-one date, the guys left behind gather to sigh about her sexiness and smarts all while subtly savaging the guy she’s with. It’s totally bogus. Yet part of me loves it.
I should be embarrassed to admit that. Grown women are supposed to at least pretend they’ve completely outgrown their vulnerable inner child — like mine, who felt barred from the culture’s narrow interpretation of who and what was worthy of love. Everyone wants to be seen. And even women who know they have far more to offer than their ever-changing outer packaging may find it hard to shake the old whispers that once diminished them. Like every child, the girl-I-was deserved to be valued for her all her innate beauty, including her hair’s complex texture, her nose’s roundness, her skin’s warm darkness. Part of me agrees with the male friend who calls The Bachelorette “the fakest thing I’ve ever seen.” But if Rachel being swooned over by men of every shade offers even a tiny corrective to black girls’ general feelings of invisibility, I can’t dismiss it. Pop culture is a festival of falseness. But it teaches kids — and more than a few adults — what to love (and hate) about themselves. The Bachelorette is silly and manipulative. But this season, it suggests to black fans of all ages a little-acknowledged truth: Sisters, too, deserve to be desired and cherished by every type of guy.
So I’ve played along. I rolled my eyes when roguish white suitor Lee — who relentlessly bedeviled Kenny, a black rival far too willing to take the bait — was “discovered” to have posted sexist and racist tweets. I was moved when Rachel told Dean — a sweet white Californian who whispered he was falling in love with her after their excruciating visit with his estranged father — she was falling for him, too. Shortly afterward, she gave him the boot. Not knowing what’s real or fabricated on The Bachelorette doesn’t change my last reason for watching: the possibility of witnessing a miracle. What if one of the 31 men who emerged from limousines to greet Rachel on the show’s premiere is actually her match? One who isn’t a self-promoting fraud, but a decent guy who signed on to this nutty show for fun, adventure or the what-the-hell possibility of finding true love?
The trio of remaining bachelors — one black, one Latino and one white (like THAT’S a coincidence!) — actually seem like such guys. Whichever takes a knee on Monday’s finale, I wish him, Rachel, and every sister who’ll sigh when he pops the question the happiest of ever afters …
Every now and again the job takes me on the road, which means if it’s a weekend, I’ve got to pack up the radio equipment and get to it. This week, that meant it was two of us on the West Coast, with Mina Kimes being in Los Angeles as per usual. Needless to say, my disposition was a tad different.
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We started things off by breaking down what happened in the Manny Pacquiao-Jeff Horn boxing match, which was majorly controversial. Basically, Horn had no business winning and everyone believes the fix was in because the Australian government was responsible for making this fight happen. Personally, I think there’s an argument that controversy isn’t the worst thing for boxing because it at least gets people talking, but then again, why bother if everything is fake and people are lying?
Of course, there was the NBA to discuss, with free agency beginning July 1. The Paul George trade was a huge shocker to most of us who had no idea that Oklahoma City was even considering picking up the Indiana Pacers guard. The ripple effects of that across the league are obvious, but still. Wow.
ESPN Thunder reporter Royce Young joined us to discuss the specifics, and just what that fan base is expecting going forward.
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ESPN Radio’s Myron Medcalf came along to break down the boxing match, and he had some pretty strong words. Quite a few people think that the fight largely sullied the reputation of the sport since the outcome seemed so patently unfair. We talked to him about whether this would affect the sport overall, and we also discussed the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight.
We got back into the NBA and the situation surrounding the New York Knicks, who are in complete free fall. After getting rid of team president Phil Jackson, their future is really in question. There are people who believe LeBron James & Company might end up at Madison Square Garden, too.
Since I told you weeks ago that the Boston Celtics were not in an easy spot regarding their offseason — despite top draft picks and cap space being oh so valuable, apparently — they missed out on Jimmy Butler, and with George in Oklahoma City, things are looking dicey regarding what general manager Danny Ainge is doing. Are they building for the future or trying to win right now? Because as constituted, they can’t do both at the same time. ESPN’s Chris Forsberg joined us to discuss their fate.
Of course, we had to do Top Five. And since the Clippers decided they wanted to put Blake Griffin’s face on a T-shirt along with Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and so many others to try to keep him in Los Angeles, we thought it’d be a good idea to name our own personal “pioneers” who we’d want to see our faces with. Mina went way off the board, and it was hilarious.
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The almighty Adrian Wojnarowski joined us to recap the free-agent signing period, and he was not here for the games. He’s new to ESPN from Yahoo, so it was exciting to have him on. Basically, he knows every single thing about the NBA at all times. Naturally, I asked him about where he gets his glasses from.
Then it was time for Bachelorette talk. Lee is gone, so that awful storyline is finally behind us, but it still leaves a bad taste in the mouth of quite a few viewers. It does feel like things are getting back on track, but we do wonder where things will go regarding Kenny and his family. We also discussed the awkward situation surrounding Will revealing to Rachel that he normally dated white women.
Lastly, we learned quite a bit in today’s episode, because no matter what, people won’t stop sending me idiotic emails. Alas, they must be addressed. Enjoy!