Shabazz Napier Probably Isn’t Starving. But, He Definitely Is Right

hi-res-3f6bc1ecb788fba30afbb3677e7ea413_crop_north

The next several paragraphs will be a collection of some of my thoughts about the concept of student-athletes, the NCAA, and the recent claim by Final Four MVP Shabazz Napier that, despite the fact that he’s a prominent member of a multi-billion dollar industry (!!!), he often goes to bed starving because he can’t afford to buy food.

But first, can we recognize how awesome of a name Shabazz Napier is? Seriously, I don’t mean to be a namist here, but some people have shitty names. Its not their fault, obviously. But, some were unfortunate enough to be born with a first and/or last name that immediately typecasts them as an “accountant for an accounting’s firm accountants” or “that guy in charge of putting the frosting on Cinnabuns.” Shabazz f*cking Napier though? That name would work for a president, a kick-ass principal, an astronaut, an African warlord, a p*rn star, a franchise of haberdasheries, a Wu-Tang member’s alias, a Wu-Tang member’s real name, and (obviously) a point guard of an NCAA championship team. I officially have Shabazz Napier name envy.

Anyway, the idea that Shabazz Napier — the star of the national championship (I keep repeating this because it needs to be repeated) — is going to bed hungry every night makes for a very compelling piece of evidence in the ongoing fight against the NCAA and the current definition of “student-athlete.” Here’s a kid who just helped to earn his school tens of millions of dollars, but he can’t even afford to buy a sandwich or a Snicker because of the flagrantly — and possibly illegally — hypocritical rules of the NCAA.

But…that idea is full of shit.

Now, Shabazz Napier is a star point guard who’ll probably be selected in the second round of this summer’s NBA draft. I was an oft-injured career backup whose basketball career ended when my senior year did. But, we both were full scholarship Division 1 athletes who likely received many of the same benefits. And because we share that trait — and because of how similar the meal plan situations are for most scholarship basketball players — I can call bullshit here with confidence.

It is likely that Napier and his teammates missed dinner several times because the campus cafeterias were closed by the time they got out of practice. But, taking that at face value neglects to mention some things, namely…

1. Along with meal plans, most scholarship athletes get at least a couple hundred dollars every semester for flex-type funds that can be used in the cafeteria and in several campus-area eateries. Often, these places stay open until 10 or 11, which gives athletes with late practices more than enough time to get food.

But, if Napier and his teammates are anything like my teammates and I were — and I’m assuming they are — most of them probably went through those funds in the first month of the semester. Making late night runs for cheese fries, letting a girlfriend or two “borrow” their cards, using flex funds as collateral in Spades games, etc. Granted, this failure to budget is understandable. These are 18, 19, and 20 year old men we’re talking about. But, when that happens, you do put yourself in a position where you can run out of that extra meal money with a month left in the semester.

2. Scholarship athletes are also eligible to receive Pell grants. How much you receive is largely determined by your parents’ income. Some kids don’t get anything. And some kids from low-income families can get the full amount. When I was in school, that was $1,800 a semester.

But, if Napier and his teammates are anything like my teammates and I were — and I’m assuming they are — a lot of that money goes towards sneakers and tattoos and parties and more sneakers and more tattoos. One of my teammates bought a car with his money. And the next semester he bought stereo equipment for his car.

Admittedly, it is very possible that Napier may have some extenuating circumstance causing him to be especially broke. Maybe he gets the Pell grant, but maybe his family is so poor that he sends all that money home. Maybe Kevin Ollie (the UConn coach) is a dick who schedules practices without any concern of the cafeteria times. (This isn’t likely. But it is possible.) And maybe Napier happens to be on one of the few campuses where everything shuts down at 7. (Again, this isn’t likely. But it is possible)

But, I just find it hard to believe that a person of Napier’s stature has to deal with hunger pains every night.

Still, even if this actual claim doesn’t pass the sniff test, the fact that a person who played a tremendous role in making millions of dollars for his school, his coaches, his administrators, and even the other athletic departments at his school, has to rely on flex funds and grants to help him get by is f*cked up. It’s f*cked up that he can see his jersey for sale in the campus bookstore, but can’t afford to buy it. It’s f*cked up that everyone around him is allowed to profit off of his name today except for him.

Seriously, think about this: I can start a Teespring campaign tomorrow selling “Shabazz Napier for President” t-shirts, and I could make hundreds, even thousand of dollars from it. If Shabazz Napier did that and only sold one shirt, he could lose his scholarship and his eligibility. And he’d have to deal with dozens of national columnists and pundits questioning his character.

The NCAA is a clusterf*ck. I do not see how any rationally thinking person can continue to deny this. It’s clear as day that things need to change, and this clarity makes me wonder why some people are so vehemently against even entertaining the idea of change. (Read some of the comments in the Napier article I linked to for an example of this anger. Don’t read if easily angered.)

Actually, I don’t wonder why at all. But, it’s a bit too late to unpack my thoughts about the dynamics of the relationship between the (mostly) Black athletes and the (mostly) White consumers and fans, so I’ll save them for another day.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)

Why I Believe In Marriage (…And Why I Can’t Judge You If You Don’t)

Are there any Black wedding figurines that don't look like Robert Downey Jr. from Tropic Thunder?

Are there any Black wedding figurines that don’t look like Robert Downey Jr. from Tropic Thunder?

Although I’m getting married in three months, I have to admit there are parts of being single I will miss.

Actually, that is a lie. There are no “parts.” But there is one specific part, and all of the positive benefits of singledom stem from it.

Most committed relationships — well, most healthy committed relationships — require each partner to be aware of and sensitive to each others wants, needs, and feelings. And this consideration sets parameters on what you’re able to do. Singledom has no such limitations. If you want to go to India for a month or if you want to spend half your paycheck at the casino or if you want to quit your job and direct cat videos or if you want to f*ck your landlord’s daughter — and you’re able to do these things — you can do them without having to explain or justify or hide it from anyone.

Thing is, actually doing these things isn’t what makes singledom great. It’s the principle. It’s the fact that you can do them, even if you don’t actually want to. It’s not the physical act of getting “new p*ssy.” Its the mental acknowledgement that you’re able to entertain new p*ssy if you choose to. It’s the freedom.

For many, I imagine the idea of giving up this type of freedom to willingly enter a lifelong commitment to one person — a lifelong commitment to one person with no guarantee of happiness — is f*cking nuts. Even if this person checks each and every one of your boxes, it’s insane to sign away the next — and last — several decades of your life just because they made you laugh yesterday and they looked good as hell buttnaked in the kitchen today.

And, you know what? They’re right.

It is crazy. It doesn’t make any damn sense. And it is f*cking insane. There is no logical reason for me to dead my freedom for an archaic institution; an institution revolving around a commitment that, according to statistics, is likely to fail.

So why do I believe in marriage?

Because my parents were married. And they loved each other. And I grew up with that. And I wanted it for myself.

That’s it. It’s not about any ambiguous macro concepts like Black love and the Black family. It’s not about the community. It’s not about God and Christianity. It’s not about creating the best environment for a child. It’s not about tax benefits and building wealth. And, to be honest, it’s not even about love. As much as I love my fiancee, I might not have been as interested in marrying her if I didn’t grow up the way I did. If fact, we might not have even been together. Without my parents’ modeling, who knows if I would have even been interested in someone like her. (And, who knows if she would have still been interested in me.)

Obviously, there are people who didn’t grow up in a similar household but still believe in marriage. I’m not suggesting that modeling is a prerequisite for this type of belief. But, if someone didn’t experience that growing up…or if they did experience it, but the relationship between their parents was so unhealthy that they should have been divorced…or if they crunched the numbers and it doesn’t make much sense to them…or if they just value their freedom more than they value a marriage commitment, I can’t really fault them for it. It’s not wrong. It’s just not me.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ)

front (3)

There’s only two days left to cop a Bougie Black Girl shirt from Teespring. It’s the perfect way to be the coolest chick in your crew without actually telling everyone you’re the coolest chick in your crew.

And yes, we have tanks to show off your guns from all that winter gym time…

front (3)

…women’s cut tees for blazers and kickball…

front (4)

…and v-necks for…whatever people need v-necks for…

front (5)

…available until Wednesday at http://teespring.com/bougieblackgirl.

***Also, those who purchased VSB logo tees and I Love Bougie Black Girls tees should have received them this week. When you do, take a selfie — or just ask someone to take your damn pic — and send it in for our yet-to-be-determined selfie/damn pic day.*** 

Black Coffee DVD Giveaway Contest!

photo

 

Hey young world – we’ve been given the opportunity to give away 5 copies of the movie Black Coffee starring everybody you see on the cover in the picture up there. I’ve seen this movie umpteen times at this point. Let me say, Christian Keyes is my dude. Thru and thru.

Anyway, the movie is about losing love and finding it…again. Sometimes you find it in odd places, sometimes its right in your face. Love is everywhere people. It’s everywhere. And the title? Think about how important the term “brown sugar” was to the movie Brown Sugar and realize its just like that in Black Coffee.

But since this is a giveaway and we only have a limited number, we have to make it interesting. So here’s the deal-io.

Email to me panama.jackson@gmail.com your WORST breakup stories. Here’s the rub…it has to be repostable (anonymously). So yes, if you win, you will receive a free DVD of the movie Black Coffee starring all the Black people on the cover picture but you’ve got to let me post your story. (You will also receive a congraulatory email from me, Panama D. Jackson, stating that you have won which is likely to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 cents 20 years from now.) Let’s call them cautionary tales. And so this doesn’t get to 1,000 words, let’s keep it to 200 words or less (unless you legit have the worst story in history). 

And so this doesn’t last forever, all entries must be in by Wednesday, April 9th.

Synopsis

Robert (Darrin Henson) picked the wrong time to meet his soul mate!  After being fired from his own father’s company, he feels like his luck has run out – until Morgan (Gabrielle Dennis) enters into his life.  Just as things start to heat up between them, trouble brews as Morgan’s ex-husband (Lamman Rucker) vows to get her back and Robert’s gold-digging ex-girlfriend (Erica Hubbard) returns with an agenda of her own. With the help of his cousin (Christian Keyes), Robert’s about to find out how much good can come out of a bad situation in this charming romantic comedy that’s good to the last drop.

-VSB P

On Mourning An Adult Entertainer

video_image-271652-415x260

The deaths of Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis were probably the celebrity deaths that hit me the hardest. Part of this had to do with age. (I was 11 when Gathers passed and 14 when Lewis did.) But, even more than that, I felt connected to them. I didn’t know either of these men. But they were basketball players, like me. And they both died on what was supposed to be the safest, friendliest, and happiest place a basketball player can be: the basketball court. Both deaths saddened and scared the fuck out of me. (Sadly, my friend and former teammate Richard Jones died in a similar manner 10 years ago.)

I mourned them through memory. I (obviously) didn’t have the benefit of going to YouTube and watching old highlight clips, so instead of remembering them as they were in their last moments, I’d think of how they were on the court. And I’m sure many of the hundreds of thousands who also mourned their deaths did so in a similar manner.

This process wasn’t too dissimilar from how most of us mourn entertainers. Instead of thinking of them as dead, we tend to recall and reflect on the reasons why we were fans. We listen to their albums again, read their books again, watch their movies again, laugh at their stand-up routines again, read and watch all the features and interviews about them again; sometimes we’ll even scour the earth to possess all the things they produced that we don’t already possess. And sometimes, their deaths will make us consume even more of their work. 

We do this for two reasons: One, because it helps us feel better. We want to remember and embrace why we were fans because it makes us smile. The smiles are bittersweet, but they help. Also, this consumption is how we, as fans, honor their memories. We didn’t know them personally, so we can’t reflect on personal memories. Shit, in most instances we don’t even know what type of person they were. But we do know how their work resonated, and a posthumous recognition of their work is our way of eulogizing them.

With one exception.

Angela Rabotte was a 26-year-old mother who was found murdered last week. She disappeared two Fridays ago, and her body was found Thursday. She had been shot.

This by itself is a tragic story. Rabotte was a mother, a daughter, a friend, and much more. A person people loved and will miss.

But, as tragic as Rabotte’s death was, I’m writing about her today because of her (former) occupation.

Those familiar with the thousands of WorldStar/YouTube/Vimeo, etc twerking and/or stripping videos out there might recognize Rabotte as “Sexy Climax”, a popular Atlanta stripper. I’m not sure which club(s) she worked at, but I do know she was popular enough to be featured in a few WorldStar videos.

Perhaps you never heard of Climax. But you might be familiar with the Twerk Team, Cubana Lust, Lanipop, and the dozens more strippers, twerkers, video vixens, and porn stars who’ve been able to use the internet to garner some national name recognition.

Regardless of what you think of their particular type of entertainment, you can’t deny that they’re entertainers. They work to create and cultivate a sexual fantasy, and the people who consume their form of entertainment might spend as much time watching their videos as they do watching their favorite actors or listening to their favorite rappers.

But, when an adult entertainer dies, the process we use to mourn other entertainers just doesn’t seem to fit. I’ve seen Sexy Climax at work. But now that she’s dead, it just doesn’t feel right to watch her videos anymore. Same with all the other adult entertainers I’m familiar with who have passed. I don’t re-watch the videos I’m familiar with, I don’t scour the internet to find work I haven’t seen yet, and I definitely don’t fantasize about them anymore.

And I think that’s it. The fantasy part is what makes things…different. For instance, Whitney Houston existed as a singer, but we also recognized that she was a real person while appreciating her voice. Angela Rabotte was just as real of a person as Whitney Houston was. But, the people whose work revolves around sexual fantasy tend to be processed in a different way by the people who knew of them because of their work. Basically, they’re objectified. Appreciating her work posthumously the same way you appreciated it while she was alive doesn’t just feel wrong. It feels rude.

This idea transcends entertainment. Think of the cute barista in your work building or the co-worker you have a crush on. If they died tomorrow, would you still have the same sexual thoughts about them you did before? I doubt it. The nature of sex-based thoughts makes it rather, for lack of a better term, “creepy” to have them about someone no longer alive.

I’m sure there is someone out there who’s compiling an archive of Sexy Climax’s work. To honor her memory the way he (or she) remembered her. Which is their right, of course. But, I can’t do that. Because every time I think of Sexy Climax now, I think of Angela Rabotte instead.

—Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)