Mo’ne Davis was the 13-year-old star of the Little League World Series — even if her team didn’t make it all the way. When a lot of America was feeling depressed — or infuriated — by the images coming out of Ferguson, here was Davis, making it onto the cover of Sports Illustrated, the first girl to ever throw a shutout at the Series, quite possibly the first black girl to ever play in it. 
But there’s a powerful back story. Her coach is a white guy in his 50s who doesn’t just train the team in baseball but Jackie Robinson, the Negro Leagues and other aspects of U.S. race relations. 

His name is Steve Bandura. He brought Davis into baseball and for many years has coached her, as he has hundreds and hundreds of other inner-city Philadelphia kids going back to the 1990s, when he chucked a well-paying job in marketing to establish a baseball, basketball and soccer league for them.
“These kids had nothing,” Bandura, now 53, told me. “And you’re going to criticize them for getting into trouble when they have nothing to do?”
He was trying to give them focus, purpose, a point of entry to top high schools and colleges and a purchase on bigger, brighter futures. And he accomplished just that. Davis is an example: She’s now an honors student on a scholarship at a private school in an affluent Philadelphia neighborhood. [NYT]

Mo’ne Davis was the 13-year-old star of the Little League World Series — even if her team didn’t make it all the way. When a lot of America was feeling depressed — or infuriated — by the images coming out of Ferguson, here was Davis, making it onto the cover of Sports Illustrated, the first girl to ever throw a shutout at the Series, quite possibly the first black girl to ever play in it. 

But there’s a powerful back story. Her coach is a white guy in his 50s who doesn’t just train the team in baseball but Jackie Robinson, the Negro Leagues and other aspects of U.S. race relations. 

His name is Steve Bandura. He brought Davis into baseball and for many years has coached her, as he has hundreds and hundreds of other inner-city Philadelphia kids going back to the 1990s, when he chucked a well-paying job in marketing to establish a baseball, basketball and soccer league for them.

“These kids had nothing,” Bandura, now 53, told me. “And you’re going to criticize them for getting into trouble when they have nothing to do?”

He was trying to give them focus, purpose, a point of entry to top high schools and colleges and a purchase on bigger, brighter futures. And he accomplished just that. Davis is an example: She’s now an honors student on a scholarship at a private school in an affluent Philadelphia neighborhood. [NYT]

In the last year or two, I’ve regularly heard people despair about the state of the world, how “there’s just so much bad news.” I’ve been hearing that a lot more lately, with Gaza, ISIS and Ferguson. People really sound overwhelmed. But I can’t help but wonder, is the news that much worse today than it was five years ago, or fifteen years ago? Or is this really a matter of the way we consume news — drown in the news — via Twitter, Facebook, TV and all the rest? It seems to me that for all the possibilities of social media, the way it connects us intimately to people around the world, it also leaves us with a chronic sense of helplessness.

In the last year or two, I’ve regularly heard people despair about the state of the world, how “there’s just so much bad news.” I’ve been hearing that a lot more lately, with Gaza, ISIS and Ferguson. People really sound overwhelmed. But I can’t help but wonder, is the news that much worse today than it was five years ago, or fifteen years ago? Or is this really a matter of the way we consume news — drown in the news — via Twitter, Facebook, TV and all the rest? It seems to me that for all the possibilities of social media, the way it connects us intimately to people around the world, it also leaves us with a chronic sense of helplessness.

historicaltimes
An opium den in Chinatown, New York, 1925. The product originated in India, was refined for smoking purposes in China, and arrived in the U.S. via San Francisco. In the 1880s, Dr. H.H. Kane wrote that opium dens were venues “where all nationalities seem indiscriminately mixed.” 
historicaltimes:

American Patrons Smoking Opium in an Opium Den, Chinatown, New York, 1925.

An opium den in Chinatown, New York, 1925. The product originated in India, was refined for smoking purposes in China, and arrived in the U.S. via San Francisco. In the 1880s, Dr. H.H. Kane wrote that opium dens were venues “where all nationalities seem indiscriminately mixed.” 

historicaltimes:

American Patrons Smoking Opium in an Opium Den, Chinatown, New York, 1925.

Africa is notoriously repressive for members of the LGBT community. But as this disturbing piece in the Daily Beast makes clear, American organizations are helping stoke the hate.
Campus Crusade for Christ (aka ‘Cru’) — one of the largest charity groups in the U.S. — encourages a virulently homophobic agenda in Africa. At one of its conferences, in Lagos, Nigeria, a speaker, Dr. Seyoum Antonios was introduced to the crowd by a senior executive in CCC:

Among the takeaways from Antonios’s presentation: Thirty-three percent of homosexuals are pedophiles, gay couples are coming to Africa to steal children and turn them homosexual, homosexuality is a Western plot to kill Africans, and gay people are 15 times more likely to be murderers than straight people. Fortunately, Antonios said, Ethiopia will become a “graveyard for homosexuality.”

Read “The Christian Do-Gooders Secretly Attacking Gays”
Map credit ILGA (from 2011)

Africa is notoriously repressive for members of the LGBT community. But as this disturbing piece in the Daily Beast makes clear, American organizations are helping stoke the hate.

Campus Crusade for Christ (aka ‘Cru’) — one of the largest charity groups in the U.S. — encourages a virulently homophobic agenda in Africa. At one of its conferences, in Lagos, Nigeria, a speaker, Dr. Seyoum Antonios was introduced to the crowd by a senior executive in CCC:

Among the takeaways from Antonios’s presentation: Thirty-three percent of homosexuals are pedophiles, gay couples are coming to Africa to steal children and turn them homosexual, homosexuality is a Western plot to kill Africans, and gay people are 15 times more likely to be murderers than straight people. Fortunately, Antonios said, Ethiopia will become a “graveyard for homosexuality.”

Read “The Christian Do-Gooders Secretly Attacking Gays”

Map credit ILGA (from 2011)

mysoulhasgrowndeep-liketherivers

Islam in America is rapidly expanding. It is the fastest-growing religion in the nation, and the second most practiced faith in twenty states. These demographic shifts prompted a prominent Los Angeles-based imam to comment, “Ramadan is a new American tradition.” The cleric’s forward-looking pronouncement marks Islam’s recent arrival in the US. However, this statement reveals a pathology afflicting a lot of Muslim Americans today - an inability to look back and embrace the opening chapters of Muslim American history written by enslaved African Muslims.

Social scientists estimate that 15 to 30 percent, or, “[a]s many as 600,000 to 1.2 million slaves” in antebellum America were Muslims. 46 percent of the slaves in the antebellum South were kidnapped from Africa’s western regions, which boasted “significant numbers of Muslims”.

These enslaved Muslims strove to meet the demands of their faith, most notably the Ramadan fast, prayers, and community meals, in the face of comprehensive slave codes that linked religious activity to insubordination and rebellion. Marking Ramadan as a “new American tradition” not only overlooks the holy month observed by enslaved Muslims many years ago, but also perpetuates their erasure from Muslim-American history.

I scored last-minute tickets to Dave Chappelle tomorrow night — the last in a series of 10 shows at Radio City. Feels a little unreal. I hardly ever go for live comedy shows and yet here I am, about to see one of the greatest comics of all time. From Vulture:

When I enter, I’m instantly and surprisingly overwhelmed with emotion. With a jazz trio called Supa Lowery Bros at the top of the stairs, playing an instrumental version of Kendrick Lamar’s oddly appropriate “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” I’m taken by how incredibly eclectic and buzzing the crowd is. I’m not exaggerating when I say it is the most diverse room I’ve ever been in. It looks like the streets of New York City were moved inside. It looks like the cast of Orange Is the New Black if it were half male and everyone were allowed to wear their cutest outfits (and not just because I eventually sat two seats down from Natasha Lyonne). A young Asian guy wearing a hat with the New Yorker logo on it stands in line in front of a white guy in a Twiztid hat, an Indian guy in a suit, an African-American skater in a Obey hat, and a woman in dreads who was talking to a woman with a feather in her hair. This is why Chappelle’s run of ten shows needed to be here, at Radio City. It’s big enough that I could see how wide-reaching his fan base is, but not so big (like Madison Square Garden would’ve been) that we turned into a faceless blob just moving in and out of passageways. With the band now playing a jazzed-up version of a Kanye West song, it is all reminiscent of Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, Chappelle’s 2006 concert documentary, which the comedian called the “best day of my career.”

But here’s the most interesting part…

Chappelle didn’t quit because he was crazy; he quit because he was sane, and he knew his audience was getting crazy. So, like a war of attrition, intentionally or not, Chappelle weeded the bad element out. After ten years, gone were the racists, the idiots, the bandwagon-jumpers, the people who shouted, “I’m Rick James, bitch” for no apparent reason. All the signs saying “NO heckling” weren’t necessary at Radio City. After a privately “pretty fucking good” and publicly tumultuous decade, the audience was most definitely ready to laugh with him.

I scored last-minute tickets to Dave Chappelle tomorrow night — the last in a series of 10 shows at Radio City. Feels a little unreal. I hardly ever go for live comedy shows and yet here I am, about to see one of the greatest comics of all time. From Vulture:

When I enter, I’m instantly and surprisingly overwhelmed with emotion. With a jazz trio called Supa Lowery Bros at the top of the stairs, playing an instrumental version of Kendrick Lamar’s oddly appropriate “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” I’m taken by how incredibly eclectic and buzzing the crowd is. I’m not exaggerating when I say it is the most diverse room I’ve ever been in. It looks like the streets of New York City were moved inside. It looks like the cast of Orange Is the New Black if it were half male and everyone were allowed to wear their cutest outfits (and not just because I eventually sat two seats down from Natasha Lyonne). A young Asian guy wearing a hat with the New Yorker logo on it stands in line in front of a white guy in a Twiztid hat, an Indian guy in a suit, an African-American skater in a Obey hat, and a woman in dreads who was talking to a woman with a feather in her hair. This is why Chappelle’s run of ten shows needed to be here, at Radio City. It’s big enough that I could see how wide-reaching his fan base is, but not so big (like Madison Square Garden would’ve been) that we turned into a faceless blob just moving in and out of passageways. With the band now playing a jazzed-up version of a Kanye West song, it is all reminiscent of Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, Chappelle’s 2006 concert documentary, which the comedian called the “best day of my career.”

But here’s the most interesting part…

Chappelle didn’t quit because he was crazy; he quit because he was sane, and he knew his audience was getting crazy. So, like a war of attrition, intentionally or not, Chappelle weeded the bad element out. After ten years, gone were the racists, the idiots, the bandwagon-jumpers, the people who shouted, “I’m Rick James, bitch” for no apparent reason. All the signs saying “NO heckling” weren’t necessary at Radio City. After a privately “pretty fucking good” and publicly tumultuous decade, the audience was most definitely ready to laugh with him.