College in Atlanta made me say goodbye to innocence and hello to shame

Michael Jordan (pictured on the left with hands on his hips), stands beside the late Kobe Bryant who is talking to the former with his arms extended.

I’m often embarrassed by my love for basketball. At parties in my twenties, I thought I could convey my morals by hating the Lakers. Or show valor in my stray lust for Knick success. Basketball is my escape from life’s tedium. I also know my attachment to it makes no sense. But professional sports are a lens through which sad old men see possibilities long since out of reach. Sports hold love, balance, truth, and other sprockets of existence we don’t understand. But the brain decides how memories get saved and there’s no clear rubric. A clear example: Songs carry…

Michaela Coel, seated, looking down at phone in a still from HBO’s “I May Destroy You”

Coel’s “I May Destroy You” deserved a nomination but power rallied to keep her out

Michaela Coel is a one-of-one creator. She can write, act, sing, and imagine better than 99% of Hollywood’s leads. For the past five years, she’s produced at a breakneck pace without sacrificing quality. Her HBO hit “I May Destroy You” explores this unreal range but wasn’t valued that way at first. The July 2020 Vulture profile on Cole outed Netflix for offering her a mere $1 million for the series, an adapted story of her sexual assault. They tried to buy her trauma on the cheap. In the wake of the show’s success, Coel’s reveal ruffled establishment feathers and the…

Around seven years ago, companies started paying for AAVE points. That’s weird.

The only one in the room who talks like you *and* you.

I’m reading a book called Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour that’s rightly brilliant. It’s about a young Black man named Darren Vender who lives in Brooklyn with his mother after graduating at the top of his class from a specialized high school. Rather than going off to college and meeting the expectations that come with high achievement, Darren decides he’ll keep it simple and work at Starbucks. He is an A-1 employee who runs a team of misfits, a few of them older, to peak coffee-slinging performance. But it’s obviously not his calling. Darren’s failure to launch might be a…

American exceptionalism and xenophobia cleaves the Black struggle once again

Still from ADOS 2019 conference video.

Scrolling social media feels like, at any moment, I’ll get pulled into one of those haunted houses I hated as a kid. I didn’t know what was in them but didn’t want to terrify myself looking. I fell into one such spooky abyss last month — ADOS — and I’m mangling my nails trying to claw myself out.

The acronym stands for American Descendants of Slavery, which is an awkward phrase: Since the country was built on slavery, anyone American is a descendant. It’s hard to understand how a person can descend from a system. (I could call myself a…

The 7-foot legend’s 1968 boycott may instruct what we infer about another enigmatic NBA star

Original illustration by Double Scribble

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, for a known greatest-of-all-time contender, isn’t well-liked. That really bothers me. I share a birthdate with the giant from Harlem, April 16th. That coincidence and the fact that we are both writers deeply concerned with racial and social justice makes me feel a wildly unearned kinship with someone 7’2 and so much more accomplished. I’d be understating my empathy for Kareem to say I love what he means to the game. I love what Kareem means to Blackness. I love what Kareem means to America. I love what Kareem means to the craft of writing and the tradition…

The Detroit rap legend is the patron saint of White entitlement and violence

Eminem performing at the 2005 MTV Movie Awards. Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

I can’t talk about Eminem without bringing up his obsessed audience.

To use his word, they are Stans. No matter their background, Eminem fans elevate him as a rap god, resurrected on Earth to drop intricate rhyme patterns about rape and farts. Whether or not you believe his status is earned, an Eminem album mints platinum sales; colossal success is his brand.

Eminem dabbles in babble. His prattles skedaddle into cadaver palaver — even citing his work inspires devious wordplay. More precisely, Eminem’s catalog is full of omens of the downfall and inherent resistance forged by Whiteness in the 21st…

They both reek of the abuse they’ve suffered. I can tell because I reek of the abuse I’ve suffered.

Photo: Hotboxin’ With My Mike Tyson

When I entered the corporate world in my first full-time role, I felt terrified.

I was pumping a Black entertainment brand. Inside the company skyscraper, men strutted in the latest Jordans and designer hoodies or Italian suits. Everyone, from the assistants to the creative directors, had a prominent social media following. Some had summer houses, others big city dreams.

Fortunately, I had a mentor. He had impressed me early on with his sharpness. He dressed sharp, sure, and could stand out even among the bespoke men marching in that cool, crystal office. …

Whether alumni or walking the halls of elite schools today, we recognize a tough shared experience

Photo: Epicurean

I laughed when I saw myself in the alumni brochure for The Collegiate School For Boys. I didn’t know why its editors included me. I didn’t graduate on time; I wasn’t a millionaire. But I knew why the faculty felt they had to print my whiskey-inflamed mug, big lips, and nostrils in the brochure’s glossy pages. I smiled at the gray bristles on my head; look at this old-ass man in the alum newsletter.

When a very-White place wants to seem less very-White, especially in 2020, the powers that be advertise your Black face and airbrush away the pain etched…

Kyrie’s prophecy, and the clairvoyant Netflix film that gave us key clues to consider

“You think these fools, these rich white dudes gon’ let the sexiest sport fall to the wayside? I mean, football is fun, but it don’t sell sneakers. You can’t even see the players half the time. Baseball…is a whole lot of tradition, but in order to move merch and inspire rap lyrics, they need your services. Too much money at stake.”

Ray Burke in High Flying Bird

Cowards will call this labor stoppage a boycott because people were killed in Wisconsin amid civil and racial unrest. The word “boycott” evokes sanitized Civil Rights memories we were taught in grade…

Aparna, from Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking” has sparked discussions about what makes a ‘proper’ bride.

How filmmaker Smriti Mundhra made the leap from indie doc phenom to reality buzz royalty

I’ve had the good luck of meeting Smriti Mundhra several times in person. The only way to describe that experience is lucky because the California-native Desi filmmaker is both inspiring and inspired. As creator and producer of Indian Matchmaking, she has managed to take the prickly subjects of love, relationships, race, feminism, and human rights and make them into a fun digestible pop culture snack for a hungry (if fickle) audience on Netflix. By choosing to lift the veil on intimate parts of her culture, Mundhra has entered the social media gauntlet and weathered the torrent of responses to her…

Andrew Ricketts

I’m a Caribbean and American writer from New York. My stories are about coming-of-age, learning how to relate, and family. It’s a living, breathing memoir.

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