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I have this strange love/hate relationship with LeBron. Let me clarify, it’s not a relationship because I don’t know him personally.

But you know what I’m saying…

LeBron is the best player of his generation (there may be some debate of where his generation begins). Saying he’s one of the best players to ever grace the hardwood is like saying water is wet. My problem with LeBron is that everything seems so fabricated. That could be the pessimism of living in this artificial social media culture that is tempering my opinion. There are very few moments that feels honest, in a basketball context. His comradery with his teammates all seems posed and corny.

Then there is philanthropist LeBron…

This is a side of LeBron that he is making more public in recent years. He has begun to speak out on social issues and he not only gives money but gives his time to endeavors that he’s passionate about. He is the ultimate feel-good story. His calling “45” a bum was easily one of the best sports moments in 2017. He carried that momentum in 2018 by serving Laura Ingraham an L during All-Star Weekend. He has taken the mantle of being socially conscious in a world that would rather spend time creating a perfect Instagram life than fighting for actual change. This same world has been fragmented by race and class while we live in a created social media world. Instead of being the next Jordan in that aspect, he chose to be the next Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Then the trade deadline happened…

A team that was pretty much overhauled in the offseason. The mini banana boat crew didn’t work in Cleveland because well – D. Wade is old, hurt, and has lost a step. He often seemed lost in the offense and LBJ wanted Batman and Robin but instead, he got Art and Ben (old guys from Cocoon). Unfortunately, this isn’t a movie so there wasn’t a fountain of youth to be found. He never seems to be happy with his team unless they win a championship.

He continually holds franchises hostage with the refusal to sign a long-term contract which makes him a never-ending sports story. There is a LeBron will sign with ____ story daily on every sports outlet. I can’t be the only person tired of the “Where is the LeBron going “ topics.

It’s annoying. Actually, it’s obnoxious. It’s a self-centered desire to drive sports news.  That’s not to say that sports media isn’t complicit in this.

LeBron is a player whose talent is undeniable but he has an insatiable yearning to be liked and loved. I imagine when you’ve always been “the man” you are probably forever searching for that “real love”. That search is what motivates him to curate his manicured image where even candid moments seem to be a part of the LBJ Reality Show. He has led a scandal-free career and I’m sure that is not by accident. His biggest pox is the fact that he held a television special to announce where he is going in Free Agency.

Overall I love his game. He’s Scottie Pippen 2.0 — bigger, stronger, faster and way more gifted. I was always a huge Pippen fan. He sees the floor like a new generation Magic Johnson. He is a force with the rock whenever he feels like it — like a Wilt in his prime. LBJ makes other players seem small. I’ll never forget the last 2 minutes of Game 5 in the playoffs where he shut down then MVP Derrick Rose. Who can forget the Finals block on Steph or the run-down block of Iggy. He can be so dominant at points that we internally wonder if we can adjust the sliders to make the game a little more difficult for him.

That’s probably why it annoys most of us his about his yearly whining about needing new teammates or incessant flopping.

LeBron is on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA Greats. He’s also one of the most annoying diva personalities to ever grace the hardwood floor. I’m just over his player antics – from the flopping to his fear of commitment to an NBA team. He’s not Jordan or Kobe as he shouldn’t be – but man how great would it be if the LBJ stories were actually just about his basketball and philanthropy?

I want to love him like I love other players’ game I admire. But I can’t. It like being served Chinese food by a white person. It looks good, it may even smell right, but it’s not right – something isn’t right. When all is said done, you eat it, but you walk away feeling unfulfilled.

 

Kelis’ interview with Hollywood Unlocked mixed with Kanye’s political meltdown on twitter is bringing us to the precipice our rap heroes self-destruction before our eyes. In the age of social media, we have been privy to our rapper’s idiosyncrasies and demons. As we open that door, it’s a scary sight. These are things that were hidden and revealed long after an artists relevance or even lifetime. We’ve always been obsessed with celebrity, and now our ugly obsession is becoming a mirror to our equally ugly inner voyeur. How did we get to this point where two of our conscious personalities are an alleged domestic abuser and an avid supporter of white supremacy?

Kanye has garnered the most attention because of his ‘fire’ tweets in support of MAGA and #45. There is some granular level of truth to what he’s saying. We need more free thinkers. We need more people to challenge the status quo of what we think is right or even real. I interpret that as what’s he’s trying to illustrate. Because Kanye loves to be cryptic and loves the news cycle to be about him – he won’t clarify and gives us any type of explanation. He’ll speak in news bytes and think it makes perfect sense. Aligning himself with any of Donald Trump policies is idiotic – for anyone that is not white and/or rich. Yeezy being a Republican makes sense. He’s rich; he wants lower taxes. That’s often where the Republicans plant their flag.

This seems to be apart of a larger vision for him. He views Trump as a disrupter and through that lens he is correct For all intents and purposes 45 has disrupted our normal politics and brought a sense of chaos and negativity that hasn’t been seen in generations. While past presidents have worn their racism on their collars behind closed doors, Trump and his acolytes prefer to wear them out in the open. In an interview with Charlamagne the God, he said he views himself as a Trump and Bernie Sanders hybrid. He views both through that prism. In a most simplistic and nascent ideal – he’s partly right. Just getting a slightly macro view the difference between these people are night and day, and even that is being too generous. This is the problem with Kanye. He extrapolates the smallest of similarities into these grandiose ideas which have no concrete meaning behind them. He slaps a label of “free thinking” onto it. I can think 2+2=5 but the reality is it equals 4 and no amount of ‘free thinking’ can get me around that principle.

The Nas thing is one of the most disheartening discoveries. It brings me to the hypocrisy of my thoughts.

Harvey Weinstein. Bill Cosby. Russell Simmons. Louis CK.

No questions asked.

But Nas. Not Nasir. Not Mr. Black Girl Lost. How Sway? How can someone so invested in the upliftment of not just the black community but black women be an abuser? You have to ask yourself, how could he not be? He comes from a broken home in an underserved community from education to mental health. He became famous and wealthy at the age of 19 and was anointed the Savior of rap since.

How can we expect him to have any real awareness of anything? It’s not an excuse, its a statement of fact. At the same time — it’s up to him to emotionally grow from his upbringing. The fact that we are now just really hearing about this is more remarkable than anything. Kelis is such a credible witness I have a hard time suspending reality and saying she’s making this up. There is the custody battle that is brewing in the background which sets this interview up. She not only called him a domestic abuser she added the cherry on top of being a deadbeat dad. How can I reconcile the fact that the man who made “Illmatic,” the most important musical event in my life, is at the same time the type of person I detest.

It’s painful. It’s like that moment you find out Santa isn’t real.

The music is still timeless and important, but the man is flawed. While some will go as far as to say he is irredeemable, I don’t believe that. Mistakes can be made, but there needs to be an effort of correction, empathy, an apology. He doesn’t owe that to me. He owes that to his ex-wife and his son if these rumors are true. I don’t need him to go on an apology tour; I just want the man to get better so in turn, the music will continue to evolve.

Our heroes continue to fail us. Here’s to hoping their failures inspire true dialogue and betterment of mankind.

“They would rep but our heroes got their hands full” – Nas

Luke Cage and Black Panther are symbolic in how both heroes hope to achieve a new level of black freedom in different ways. While Luke Cage represents the every man trying to carve his niche in an American society that is rife with white nationalism and systemic racism; Black Panther represents the advent of Marcus Garvey’s dream.

A Black nation, ruled by black people that has far surpassed anything that is found outside of its walls. These two different ideologies are what represents the self-appointed “woke” and the everyday person who recognizes the system we are in and understands that the stakes are high; and a revolution won’t happen in the blink of an eye.

The “woke” think Wakanda is a real place. They think that this Wakanda is an achievable dream within the next few years if we just get on TV enough, write enough books, stop buying Jordans (of course), and stomp our feet just loud enough. For them, revolution is an eyelash away. Disregard the lack of organization, military power, and just flat out effective basic strategy to achieve this. They hang their hats on the Haitian revolution and think it was done once.

The fact is – black and brown people have a 1-40k record against “colonizers”. It makes this obvious when “Wakanda” is now synonymous with Freedom. Let’s just ignore the fact that the “woke” are just getting hip to a black superhero that is almost 50 years old.

Meanwhile the everyday man, the Luke Cage styled revolutionary is doing it in his own way. He is the one weaving his culture into his corporate job. He is slyly practicing known workplace politics (nepotism) by building up his brothers and sisters and preparing them for their next steps…simultaneously extending his/her own network and creating more power. This is the person who quietly is being a good parent and supporting their child’s dreams and not limiting them to what is known. They are exposing the next generation to aspects of the world that were denied to them in their youth.

This is the underappreciated revolutionary. But this person is the core of every movement that has ever existed on this planet.

The problem with Black Americans is that we won’t embrace the fact that we are not a monolithic group of people. We have painted ourselves into a corner that there is only one way to be woke. There is only one way to fight for black progress. Diversity is our strength as there are different shades of us but are still considered black; we have varying idea for progress that will still have positive results in our advancement as a people. The “woke” criticize Black Christianity as this was the same tool that was used by our slave masters. They also ignore that this tool has been used by us as people to give hope, joy, and encouragement.

While Christianity has its own problems – I’m not about to criticize anyone that practices if it is helping them become a productive member of society in the name of “wokeness”.

Who am I or they to say to whom you pray ain’t right
That’s who got you doing right and got you this far
Whether you say “in Jesus name” or “Hum do Allah”
Long as you know it’s a bein’ that’s supreme to you
You let that show towards others in the things you do
– Common

There is room for both methods but there isn’t room for this pissing contest of “who is the wokest?”. There are more Luke Cage’s in the world than T’Challa’s and we have to embrace Luke Cage and the Misty Knight’s of the world. They don’t get enough credit for doing a hard job and taking the arrows of everyday life while still trying to be a part of the movement.

We all can’t be DeRay or Angela Rye, where being “woke” is not only a passion, but a job in which you are receiving a king’s ransom. Not that there is anything wrong with profiteering off a movement – but for every star in the spotlight, there are 10s of thousands in the shadows pushing a similar agenda for our ultimate end result in becoming a stronger people surviving the painful oppression of systematic racism.