Hooker KO’d Miller with a brutal knee on Saturday, and after the fight, he had a memorable call-out.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Anthony Davis scored 33 of his franchise playoff-record 47 points in the second half, and the New Orleans Pelicans completed a first-round playoff sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers with a 131-123 victory on Saturday.
When Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter hits the stage for her second Coachella appearance this weekend, the seemingly unstoppable force will face off against a familiar foe: Queen Bey. The 36-year-old’s legendary two-hour headlining performance at America’s signature music festival has already garnered landmark deification.
Indeed, how in the name of Sasha Fierce does one attempt to match a universally hailed event that’s already being compared to such storied gigs as James Brown’s 1962 Apollo Theater show; Jimi Hendrix’s guitar-igniting triumph at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival; Michael Jackson’s glorious 1983 Motown 25 King of Pop statement; and Prince’s bar-shattering 2007 Super Bowl XLI halftime show spectacle? And when Beyoncé thanked Coachella’s organizers for the opportunity to become the first black woman to headline the festival, she quipped, “Ain’t that ’bout a b—-.” A side-eye to the inherent bias of such an achievement.
In between a barrage of brass versions of “Crazy In Love,” “Formation,” “Sorry,” “Hold Up” and “Run The World (Girls),” the multiplatinum Lemonade visionary’s much-rumored reunion with Destiny’s Child had social media on full tilt.
“I’m not watching the Destiny’s Child reunion at Coachella and crying … YOU’RE watching the Destiny’s Child reunion at Coachella and crying,” rejoiced a superfan on Twitter just minutes after the recognizable silhouettes of Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams suddenly appeared onstage. The trio ran through an all-too brief medley of favorites that included “Lose My Breath,” “Soldier” and the obscure Timbaland-remixed take on “Say My Name.”
“WHERE IS THE DESTINY’S CHILD TOUR? STOP TEASING US SIS,” exclaimed another member of the Beyhive collective. The freakout over the last great girl group was massive. For a legion of millennials who came of age in the ’90s and early 2000s, the women of Destiny’s Child are their Supremes.
“I was a huge Destiny’s Child fan growing up,” said Jezebel culture editor Clover Hope, who can still recite by heart lyrics from their 1998 Wyclef Jean-produced “No, No, No, No, No Part 2.” The foursome — which back then consisted of Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson — would go through a series of controversial lineup changes after their six times platinum 1999 sophomore album The Writing’s on the Wall. “Bills Bills Bills,” “Bug a Boo” and the aforementioned “Say My Name” were instant pop soul anthems.
“They became the leading girl group at a time when girl groups still mattered,” added Hope of the highly competitive decade dominated by such female acts as En Vogue, TLC, SWV, Brownstone, Xscape and the Spice Girls. “But Destiny’s Child was the last breath of that era. That’s why seeing them together at Coachella was a great moment.”
The return of Destiny’s Child takes on an even greater meaning with the emergence of Beyoncé as the most vital and zeitgeist-dominating performer in the world. Her ascent was solidified during her 2013 Super Bowl XLVII showcase (button-pushing Bey was laughably charged with leading another Black Panther Party revolution in high heels), which drew in an estimated 108.41 million viewers.
And now there’s Beyoncé’s upcoming On The Run II tour with her husband, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, easily the hottest ticket of the summer, slated to kick off in Cardiff, Wales, on June 6, playing to mammoth stadiums across the globe. According to Pollstar, the couple’s last On The Run trek pulled in $109 million with an average ticket draw of 57,634 on just 19 dates. Beyoncé’s 2016 Formation World Tour did even better, taking in $256 million. Her albums are cultural and political events. The name Beyoncé has become a verb.
“On The Run II is already projected to hit the $200 million mark,” said David Brooks, a senior correspondent at Billboard who covers touring and live entertainment. “There’s no limit to Beyoncé’s fan base. If I’m doing a country, rock, rap or R&B show, I don’t want to be anywhere close to whatever city she’s playing. Right now, Beyoncé is a planet barreling through the concert solar system and sucking up all the gravity.”
And so the question remains: Does Mrs. Carter, whose Coachella set tallied a record-breaking 41 million livestream views on YouTube, really need a Destiny’s Child reunion? It’s been nearly 20 years since the classic lineup of Beyoncé, Williams and Rowland reached the girl group mountaintop, selling more than 10 million copies worldwide of their 2001 Survivor. By the time they dropped their fifth and final album, 2004’s Destiny Fulfilled, the trio was a Grammy-winning triumvirate whose black girl magic message resonated with empowering singles such as “Independent Woman Part 1,” “Survivor,” “Bootylicious” and “Girl.” The U.S. leg of Destiny’s Child’s 67-date 2005 farewell tour grossed $70.8 million. Rowland went on to drop her 2011 double-platinum solo single “Motivation” and became a U.K. reality television star. The recently engaged Williams, once the target of the “Poor Michelle” memes, blossomed into a successful gospel artist.
It’s never been a matter of whether Beyoncé needs Destiny’s Child. The truth is, fans need — the world needs — Destiny’s Child. Because since the unofficial disbandment of Fifth Harmony, and beyond the intense K-pop fanaticism, “girl groups” have nearly become extinct in the U.S. “[Girl groups] have all but disappeared,” said One artist Meelah Williams, who recently reunited with the Las Vegas-based female vocal act 702, the group that recorded a string of hits, highlighted by “Where My Girls At” and the brilliant 1996 “Steelo” (produced by Missy Elliott). “It’s very bizarre.”
But while the days of the ubiquitous girl group are in the rearview mirror for now, throwback female vocal acts are now taking their classic catalogs out on the road. “Xscape and SWV are back together again touring, which let us know that if they can do it, we can do it,” said Meelah of 702’s return to the spotlight. “En Vogue is still doing it, and Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child came back together to perform after all these years, which is amazing. They are definitely an inspiration for all of us.”
With the concert industry booming, a Destiny’s Child reunion tour would be a no-brainer. Last year, Pollstar reported global ticket sales jumping to a record $5.65 billion, a 15.8 percent increase over the previous year. Aging megastar acts such as U2, Metallica, The Eagles and Bruce Springsteen are routinely among the top earners alongside relative newbies such as Taylor Swift, Drake, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar and Katy Perry.
But post-Generation X ticket buyers are flexing their economic muscles. Millennial stars such as Beyoncé, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga have all become major players in the concert market. And the “I Love The ’90s” concert series — which features a rotating stable of acts from the era of flip phones and Yo! MTV Raps, including Salt-N-Pepa, Coolio, Color Me Badd, Vanilla Ice, Kid ‘n Play and Sugar Ray — was a surprise hit in 2016, pulling in more than $21 million.
“There is definitely a huge nostalgia factor happening right now, especially if you’re in your 30s or early 40s,” said Brooks. “For many, ’90s music takes people back to that feeling of when they were young and all they had to worry about was being home on time so their parents wouldn’t yell at them.”
OK, then: It’s settled. A full-blown Destiny’s Child tour would pretty much be a big deal. Beyoncé’s Coachella takeover was an overwhelming statement of black female empowerment, celebrating a world where swag surfing, Nina Simone, Big Freedia, trap music and New Orleans second line music can all coexist within the genius complexities of black culture. The around-the-way black woman power of Destiny’s Child would not only fit right on in, it would lead the way.
It’s been two years since the world was rocked by the news that Prince, one of the most talented artists to roam this earth, had died in his home.
As the world grappled with such a significant loss, others attempted to fill the void with some of their fondest memories of Prince. Sharing stories of fan meet-and-greets with those who either knew him personally or were touched by his aura almost became therapeutic. Most sentiments were sweet and thoughtful, while others expressed the playful side of Prince. But the anecdotes that seemed to gain the most attention came from those who had experienced “made-for-television moments” with The Purple One himself. One of those people? Former NBA All-Star Carlos Boozer.
Boozer’s unique encounter with Prince is one deserving of an E! True Hollywood Story segment on Chappelle’s Show. Thirteen years and many previously unreleased details later, the story has quickly become one of Boozer’s most popular to share.
We’ll take it back to 2005, when Boozer, a 23-year-old with only two seasons of professional basketball under his belt, had just signed a contract with the Utah Jazz. It was a fresh start for the NBA player, and finding a new home topped Boozer’s list of priorities. Boozer hadn’t planned all the details of his new location, but after growing up in Alaska and battling harsh winters in Cleveland, he was certainly in search of a warmer climate. Ultimately, Boozer settled on a 10-bedroom, 18,000-square-foot mansion in Bel-Air, Los Angeles.
But before Boozer could spend quality time in his new crib, the Jazz training camp was calling — and so were at least 20 people looking to rent his new house while he was away.
“My Realtor Roxanne hits me and she says, ‘Los, I got a call from a bunch of people who want to rent your crib,’ ” Boozer said. “I was like, ‘I haven’t even lived in it. I’m still a week away from decorating, so, no. I haven’t lived in it yet, why would I lease it out to somebody else?’
“The list kept getting shorter and shorter of people calling about it. The first calls, it was about 20 people. The previous owner had been in entertainment and was well-known and threw gatherings and parties there, so they knew the house.”
As Boozer continued to decline offers, the list continued to dwindle. Twenty people became 18. Eighteen became seven. Around a month later, Boozer was down to one persistent person, who’d call to make an offer at least eight times. The unidentified person was willing to pay $95,000 a month, which was a little over $1 million for the year, and that was an offer Boozer refused to pass up. As good as the deal was, there was only one short catch: Boozer would have to fly from Utah back to Los Angeles to meet with the potential renter.
Boozer waited for an off day to make the trip. He returned to his home and waited to meet the renter who’d be helping him with his mortgage payments. The gates to the home opened, and a limo entered. Out of it came a man no taller than 5 feet 2 inches and dressed in a layered top, nice jeans, boots with a perfect hairstyle. His eyes remained hidden behind sunglasses, but a starstruck Boozer already knew exactly who it was. The potential renter surprised both Boozer and his real estate agent Roxanne Nelson.
“As soon as he stepped out of the limo I was like, ‘Wow’ because I didn’t know who [I’d be renting to],” Boozer said. “Roxanne didn’t even know who it was because it was always the assistant calling on his behalf. So when he pulled up to sign the paperwork at the house, I was like, ‘Roxanne, is that Prince?’ It was a moment for me because there’s not that many times I’ve been starstruck, but that was one of those times. I was starstruck because it was Prince — I listened to half his albums because my parents were huge fans growing up. I watched his movies. Purple Rain is still one of the best movies ever made. It was incredible to be able to rent my house to him.”
The two began to talk and bonded over their common interest in basketball. On the rooftop was Boozer’s basketball court. Prince began shooting around with Boozer and talking to the rising star about his career.
“He was very cool,” Boozer said. “Obviously, very short, but he was huge into basketball. Loved basketball. We had a great conversation. He said he followed me a bit in my career. He told me I was a beast of a young player, because I was young. I was a baby in the NBA. He’s from Minnesota, so he was a huge Kevin Garnett fan at the time.
“Honestly, he had a good jump shot. I was like, ‘Wow.’ He could actually play ball. Very impressive.”
Prince disclosed to Boozer that he needed a place where he and his band would feel inspired enough to create a new album. He signed a one-year lease and began occupying the space during basketball season. But a few weeks later, Boozer would be sidelined with a hamstring injury that required physical therapy.
“The best physical therapist, Judy Seto, was in L.A.,” Boozer said. “I fly out to L.A. I had to be there like three weeks to take care of my hamstring, and I go by the crib. I hit him up, I said, ‘P, I’m about to come by the house. If you need anything, let me know.’ ”
Boozer returned to his street, but something had changed. The house he’d purchased didn’t look like the house he’d purchased at all. Maybe it wasn’t his. Boozer continued to drive down the street, then back up to the only house with his address. The 12-foot-high gates adorned with gold lions that greeted him every time he came home had been replaced by a purple symbol of some sort. This couldn’t have been his. Boozer punched in the code to his home and the gates opened right away. “I’m like, ‘Wow, so the homie changed my gate to this symbol,’ ” Boozer thought at the time.
It was his home. But what had happened to it? Boozer stepped out of his car. The stairs leading from the motor court to his home were draped with a purple carpet emblazoned with the same symbol that greeted him minutes earlier.
“I wasn’t aware of what that symbol was at the time,” Boozer admitted.
Prince’s decorative creations outside of the home seemed minor once Boozer laid eyes on the interior renovations. The beautiful Italian carpets chosen by his then-wife were pulled up and replaced by black carpeting. Black and purple seemed to be the new theme of the home, and there were those symbols again. Boozer approached a spare bedroom that had been completely transformed into a full-use hair salon. The other, a massage parlor.
“I never had that [in a home], but I’m still like, ‘What’s going on?’ I spent all this bread to decorate, and now he did all this. I had a really awesome weight room. He turned the weight room into a dance floor. He had a disco ball and a DJ booth, which I thought was pretty awesome since I never had that before either, but I was still like, ‘What the hell?’ I’m livid. I go into the bedroom and it’s a purple, heart-shaped bed with black carpet. At this point, I’m like, ‘What the f— happened to my house?’ ”
Boozer immediately began placing calls to the superstar, only to be greeted by his voicemail each time. Days turned into weeks, and after nearly two months without a returned call or response from Prince, Boozer was ready to take legal action.
“I left him one more message and said, ‘P, I’ve been trying to get ahold of you for two months. I don’t know where you are, I hope everything is cool with you and your family, but I’m about to sue you because you changed my whole house around without giving me no notice, and that’s a breach of contract.’ ”
Three days later, Prince was back on the grid.
“My lawyers were about to prepare the paperwork and everything. I’m about to sue Prince. Who wants to sue Prince? An idol, someone you look up to? Nobody wants to do that. It gets to that point and he calls me. I’m at a game and he’s in Japan on tour for that 3121 album. He goes, ‘Man, I’m so sorry. I’ve been on the road the whole time. Don’t worry, the house is going to look just like the house when you moved out. When I move out at the end of my lease, it’ll look just like I was never there. Trust me.’ He wired me $500,000 to ease my mind, which is a lot of bread on top of the rent that he was already paying.”
Being a man of his word, Prince did exactly what he said he’d do. By the end of his lease, the house looked as if he’d never been there. Boozer walked in to see beautiful Italian carpeting. The hair salon was gone, and all the equipment was back in his awesome weight room. The mystery symbols that were seen in nearly every room had vanished without a trace. Still in disbelief at how quickly Prince had transformed the home back into his home, Boozer wired the $500,000 back to his renter.
Proof of Prince’s stay is documented throughout the album artwork for 3121, Prince’s 31st studio album released in 2006.
“If you look at the CD cover, it’s my house,” Boozer said. “So he put the house all in the CD cover.”
The two formed a friendship over the years and would make time for lunch or dinner when they were in the same area. The last time Boozer would see his friend was at the Jordan Brand’s 30th anniversary party during NBA All-Star Weekend in 2015. Prince gave an impromptu performance and wowed the crowd, just as he did throughout his career.
“Even now with the two-year anniversary [of his passing], it’s still mind-boggling to me what really happened,” Boozer said. “There’s just so much mystery around his death — Michael Jackson’s death, Whitney Houston’s death too. I’d like to know what really happened.
“[If he were still alive], I’d tell him it is an honor to meet you. I literally do believe I was conceived because of your music between my mom and dad. You’ve inspired so many people. It’s an honor to have met you, great to hear your music and good to call you a friend.”
As Beyoncé plans to “switch things up a bit” for her second Coachella set, the festival’s first weekend was a stark example of Beyoncé Knowles Carter’s and Colin Kaepernick’s very effective form of public yet enigmatic resistance. Both of them tend to eschew or push the boundaries of traditional media, and from the stage and from Instagram they each addressed societal issues.
Kaepernick has yet to grant a full-length interview; it is, without question, the most coveted interview in sports media. The former San Francisco 49er posted a picture of baseball icon Jackie Robinson with a quote that is rarely celebrated when discussing the baseball legend’s legacy. He’s not standing for the anthem. He’s not singing the anthem. Nor is he saluting the flag. Kaepernick’s upload put an entire league on notice and answered the question for any prospective team even remotely interested in Kaepernick’s talents under center.
The truth is, in lifelong NFL exile, Colin Kaepernick will be far more impactful than he was on the field. This includes the 49ers team he nearly led to its first non-Joe Montana or Steve Young Super Bowl. Had it not been for the concert quite literally heard around the world, it would have been the weekend’s biggest line in the sand.
Beyoncé at Coachella is already cultural curriculum: The two-hour moving montage of black history marked her return to the stage. With guest appearances from her sister, Solange, and husband, Jay-Z, and a Destiny’s Child reunion with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, the moment only further cemented her place among music’s all-time great performers.
The performance was a testament to the machine that is Beyoncé. She is a mother of three and is one-half of one of the highest-profile couples in the world. She put in 11-hour days and altered her diet. She then harnessed the leading role in a performance that celebrated some of the most authentic elements of black life, including historically black college and university (HBCU) culture, fraternity and sorority life, African royal garb, quotes from Nina Simone and Malcolm X and, for good measure, swag surfing. The only element missing was a random uncle in open-toe sandals grilling on the side of the stage with a red cup in hand. She also stepped up with a $100,000 donation to HBCUs, doubling down on her 2016 investment into women attending HBCUs via her Formation Scholars initiative. In 2018, it’s perplexing for Beyoncé or any black person to still be “the first” anything. And the distinction of being the first black woman to headline the famed festival seemed to both honor and perturb her.
Notoriously guarded, the Lemonade singer has never been the most media-available artist, especially in recent years. She’s never seemed totally comfortable with that job requirement — unlike, say, her husband, who is naturally personable and engaging in interviews. Even her Instagram pictures are largely without captions. She says very little outside of a recording booth or off the stage. Yet — through her music, increasingly more personal on 2014’s self-titled album and 2016’s Lemonade, and actions — she has carved out an image of a shadowy, even hooded figure very much in tune with the conversations and temperature of society. Her performance — coming on the heels of Stephon Clark’s killing by police in Sacramento, California, the Philadelphia Starbucks racial profiling incident and Brennan Walker, a 14-year-old shot at after asking for directions — was more coincidence than intention. But it felt fitting.
“I have worked very hard to get to the point where I have a true voice,” Beyoncé “said,” actually being paraphrased by her mom, Tina Knowles, on Instagram. “At this point in my life and my career, I have a responsibility to do what’s best for the world and not what is most popular.”
The performance resonated far more than a press release or exclusive interview ever could. She proved that at 36 she, like LeBron James in his craft, is only getting better with the wisdom that age brings and a work ethic that can only be defined as obsessive but unparalleled. She’s as comfortable musically as she has ever been. Her creativity is only getting sharper and more poignant as the stakes elevate — a telling sign as she prepares for a world tour this summer with her husband. Her performance April 14 became its own living, breathing and gyrating exhibit at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. It not only moved the culture. It became part of the decade’s DNA.
When Beyoncé and Colin Kaepernick speak, the world listens. When they move, the world watches. When the weapons of societal perspective and human empathy are placed in an introverted person’s hands, the results are telling. They don’t feel the need to have to explain themselves.
Season 2, Episode 8 | “Woods” | April 19
In 1996, Tupac Shakur, in the most prolific — and final — year of his life, said, “Everybody’s at war with different things. I’m at war with my own heart sometimes.” That sums up Alfred, aka Paper Boi (in Atlanta’s second season), nearly to a T.
This season’s heavy emphasis on solo episodes — Paper Boi’s second in the last four episodes following the instant classic “Barbershop” — flourish with regard to illustrating the mental strife of each of its characters. “Robbin Season” is as much a state of mind as a title. Think of artists such as Eminem or J. Cole and how they can seem repulsed by the idea of fame. That’s Paper Boi. He hates the concept of sacrificing parts of his personal life, part of “being real” as he dubs it, on his quest to make money rapping.
We’re careening closer and closer to an Alfred-Earn split. It’s been hinted at all season. Earn isn’t a great manager, and the only bond holding the two together is family ties. Paper Boi completely blows off Earn when the latter calls regarding important paperwork he needs to sign. But the reality, one Paper is desperately seeking to shun — made evident by his mother telling him she “didn’t raise a son this lazy” all the while his phone continuously vibrates — is that he can’t run from the consequences of his decisions, no matter how many blunts he smokes.
We’re also reminded of the Paper Boi-Darius discomfort that was introduced in the series opener, but never fully addressed. Paper Boi tells his eccentric friend he’s going out with a friend, but Darius playfully, yet seriously shoots back he thought the rapper was “allergic to girlfriends.” Darius says the least she can do is come inside and try his homemade pasta. He quite literally puts his foot in the pasta.
But it’s Paper Boi’s interaction with Ciara, a former stripper turned Instagram model now banking her entire lifestyle and mindset on a bubbling social media conglomerate, that gives the entire episode its legs. Paper Boi doesn’t want any part of the facetious responsibilities that come with living on Instagram. That’s another thing about this season, too. For as great and revealing as it has been at times — this season has perhaps had more high points than the first — it’s also succeeded in making its female characters lampoons. Paper Boi doesn’t truly take her seriously, so therefore it’s hard for the audience to.
Regardless, she hammers home some hard truth to Alfred. He nauseatingly reiterates how he wants to stay real. He says it so much, in fact, that you come to realize even Paper Boi knows he can’t keep hiding behind that shield, and only says it as a defense mechanism.
Ciara tells him his wardrobe is going to have to change if he wants to find the next level of success. She tells him it’s time for a new manager, one with a “big d—,” as she coins it. Much like his studio conversation with Clark County earlier this season, Earn is thrown under the bus for his more than apparent shortcomings as a fledgling executive. If Paper Boi is going to take the next step as an artist and celebrity, there’s a very good chance it won’t be with his cousin timidly making decisions on his behalf.
Yet, when the Ciara and Al sit down for a pedicure, the conversation takes a turn. Ciara, both flawed and representative of a large portion of today’s digital psyche, understands the power of branding and marketing through Instagram. “I can’t be selling my wigs and out here looking janky. I’ve gotta compete with white girls with lip fillers and butt injections, selling lip gloss and spray tans,” Ciara says, subtly referring to last week’s episode with white women dating black men. “Everybody wanna be a black girl, but the black girls ain’t making no money from it.” Slice it however you want, but that statement is the absolute truth.
But again, Alfred can’t escape the concept of wanting to remain real. “S—, you’re on the radio and you’ve been making money,” Ciara shoots back. “You’ve been not real.” The reality check is too much for Paper Boi to accept and he storms out. Walking by himself, Alfred eventually pulls up on three young men who eventually rob him at gunpoint. Alfred fends them all off and head-butts the final robber, but realizes he’s still the one in front of the gun and sprints off into the woods.
It’s here in the woods that Alfred finally understands the more he fights this impending reality, the more bloodthirsty it becomes. He encounters a homeless man who stalks him as he attempts to find his way out of the woods. Both are symbolic. The woods represent the journey to success, which comes with a price and no GPS. The man, who for all we know didn’t actually exist and was a figment of Alfred’s dark imagination and hallucination, is the final straw in a season-long resistance to inevitable change.
“Keep standing still, you’re gone,” the man tells Alfred with a knife to his throat. “You’re wasting time. And the only people who’ve got time are dead.” A bloody, bruised, battered and mentally shaken Paper Boi escapes the woods and enters a gas station. A young white fan asks to take a selfie with him. The fan either doesn’t know, doesn’t show or doesn’t care that Paper Boi looks like a train wreck. Where in episodes past, Alfred would have scoffed, moaned and groaned at the thought, he quickly obliges.
It’s a new Al. It’s a new day. All season Paper Boi has been running from an alternate reality that scares him. The question now is, what changes? How much longer will he shoulder Earn’s shortcomings as a manager? How much is Al willing to sacrifice? And most importantly, in the process of that sacrifice, how much of himself can he actually maintain?
The episode’s final words, Paper Boi to the fan, were especially poignant and perhaps a glimpse at the answer to those questions. It’s Paper Boi actually talking to himself. “Be safe out here.” Robbin’ season is 24/7.
“The only way I can describe the finale is that when the cast finished reading it at the table read, for a good 15 seconds, there was absolute stunned silence,” said Joe Morton, the actor known to Scandal fans as B613 leader Rowan “Eli” Pope and known as Papa Pope in “Shondaland.”
As Olivia Pope’s (Kerry Washington’s) father, Morton’s character isn’t even in line for the Daddy of the Year award. But he firmly believes that everything he’s done has always been to protect his daughter, who has dedicated her life to protecting and defending the public images of the nation’s elite by keeping their secrets under wraps.
Morton, a Harlem, New York, native, won an Emmy for his role in Scandal, and his acting career spans 40 years in film, television and theater. He’s acted in recent big-screen hits such as Justice League and classics such as Terminator II. Many fans remember him as politician and fiancé of Whitley Gilbert (Jasmine Guy), Byron Douglas III. He also had roles in Speed, What Lies Beneath, American Gangster, Stealth and Ali.
As the show comes to an end, Morton spoke to The Undefeated on his evolution, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the respect he has for queen of the tennis court Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick and more.
How has Rowan evolved over the seasons?
Interesting thing about Rowan is that he went from someone who is very, very dark to someone who realized he needed to help his daughter get back into the light, which I thought was wonderful. When he’s with Quinn’s baby in his house, in some small ways, he tries to relive what he didn’t do with his own child, Olivia.
Whether solicited or not, Rowan is always giving advice. What’s the best advice you’ve ever given personally?
The best advice I’ve given is that when you’re a parent, you’re a parent for life. It doesn’t matter how old your children get.
How did you prepare to play such a complex character?
First thing was the amount of monologues that Rowan was given. That kind of theater doesn’t happen on TV, usually, so that was enormous to me. In each of his monologues, you learn something new about him. From his beliefs, thoughts, where he came from, etc. I learned a bit more of who he was from each of those.
Rowan has this fascination with dinosaur bones. What’s the last museum you’ve personally visited?
Recently I was in Washington, D.C., and visited the African-American Museum. It’s a mind, feeling and emotional experience with three tiers that walks you through African-American history from slavery to advancement and culture and what black people contributed to this country. It’s just very beautifully organized, and everything has a point and reason that leads to the next.
What will you always be a champion of?
I will always be a champion of the truth and champion someone who despises the hypocrisy of democracy. Those are things that I will always speak out against. … I think what Colin Kaepernick did [in taking a knee during the national anthem] was brilliant because it was peaceful and protesting the fact that democracy was down, just as players take a knee when a player is down, and too many black men were being killed by white officers and police in general. Anyone who says that’s unpatriotic has it backwards. You have to remember that this country was built on revolution.
What’s your favorite sport to watch?
Tennis. I enjoy watching Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and, of course, the queen of the tennis court, Serena Williams. Serena and Venus have changed tennis in so many ways. They are amazing players. Venus coming back from her ailments and Serena coming back after giving birth and winning at Indian Wells, which is the place that used to boo and make fun of her, is remarkable. I had the opportunity to meet them both, but it was a day that I was working so couldn’t make it. I do hope to meet them one day.
“Diversity trainings don’t work” is an oft-repeated refrain. And yet, Starbucks will devote an entire day to “conduct racial-bias training to address implicit bias and prevent discrimination” for all employees. This decision follows last week’s incident in which a Starbucks store manager called the police on two black men in a Philadelphia Starbucks.
Within moments of the story going viral, many identified implicit bias, on the part of the store manager and/or the police, as the potential culprit. However, this suggests that, as a society, we have overlearned the lesson of implicit bias at the expense of acknowledging other societal and structural factors that might also be at play. Implicit bias alone, as pervasive as it is, cannot explain why black people in America are at risk when we get locked out of our own apartment, have car trouble, laugh with friends and, yes, sit quietly at Starbucks.
Starbucks should absolutely train its employees. But if this training has any chance at making a lasting impact, it should not begin and end with implicit bias. Social science has a lot to say about other elements that should also be included to construct a training that will lead to lasting change.
Create mild discomfort
As humans, our instinct when we feel uncomfortable is to avoid whatever is creating those feelings. However, discomfort is a faulty litmus test for success when it comes to conversations about race. For one, plenty of research shows that white people tend to find conversations about race to be more uncomfortable and anxiety-provoking than black people do. Moreover, experts who study attitudes and behavior emphasize that, without mild discomfort, we may not be sufficiently inspired to change how we think or act. Finally, when we focus on comfort, we may compromise other goals. For example, emerging research demonstrates that framing discrimination as the result of unintentional, implicit bias (rather than intentional, explicit bias) can cause white people to judge the discrimination as less intentional; they also see the perpetrator as less blameworthy and the victim as less harmed. Clearly, we undermine the efficacy of any training when we overprioritize the comfort of the majority in the room.
Bridge the bias detection gap
Conversations about race between white and black people often make it seem that we are living in different countries. And, at least psychologically, that may be partially true. For example, research shows that white people are less likely than black people to consider subtler behaviors (such as feeling uncomfortable around black people) as indicative of racism. These differences in bias detection have measurable consequences, as evidenced by the interpersonal, psychological and physical consequences of contending with bias. Thankfully, some research indicates that educating white people about the subtle discrimination black people face can improve their bias detection. Despite all this, little attention is granted toward increasing the bias detection of white people during diversity training, even though the available research suggests this is exactly what needs to happen. A good training must increase awareness of the differences in bias detection and provide foundational knowledge for attendees about the way the world is — for all in the room.
Provide tools and support to enact change
Finally, this training must acknowledge that many of us have good intentions that fail to materialize into actual behavior. This is especially the case when it comes to speaking out against bias, as concerns about what to say, how to say it and whether it will be effective can cause us to freeze in the moment. If any change is to occur, the training must equip attendees with actionable steps they can take to confront bias in future situations. Then, importantly, there should be time for attendees to practice implementing those steps in a variety of scenarios. This increases the likelihood that they will spring to action in the future, instead of standing on the sidelines hoping or expecting someone else to intervene.
Moreover, Starbucks must reinforce that its culture is one that expects everyone to uphold the shared values of anti-discrimination and inclusion.
Starbucks should pay as much attention to how it will measure its desired outcomes as it does to developing the content for this training. Did people become more aware of the ways that bias manifests? Do they feel empowered to enact change? Do they believe these efforts will be supported by their immediate supervisor and co-workers? In truth, it would be foolish to expect magnanimous behavioral change as the result of one training.
On its own, one training can do little more than increase awareness, state ideal cultural norms and lay the foundation for continued conversation. However, by developing a curriculum that is evidence-based, Starbucks could be an early model for how to develop a diversity training that does, in fact, work. Let’s hope it uplifts implicit bias as a point of entry into a much larger conversation.