JalenxChris

Listen… I am Detroit, hip hop, Michigan (the school not the State), Black as HAIL, and St. Cecilia all wrapped up in one. Understand, I am all about Chris Webber and Jalen Rose …pause…

and today, these brothas shared a moment on TV we have been waiting in for years. We watched Juwan Howard take Michigan basketball to heights not seen in a long time! We waited for the Fab Five reunion to support him… but when the two biggest names in that group are going back and forth beefin like Biggie and Pac… it makes things difficult.

But today, today on ESPN NBA Countdown, Jalen with his perfect D-boy line up and Chris looking a bit nervous and emotional, spoke about Chris Webber’s induction into the Hall of Fame, and this happened.

If you shed a thug tear, raise your hand!

These two have put us THROUGH it. Let’s have a history lesson.

DEEEE-troit Basketball

So Jalen Rose and Chris Webber are native Detroiters. Chris Webber attended Country Day High School, a wealthy suburban school , and Jalen went to Southwestern, a Detroit Public School. Each spent their summers playing at the legendary St. Cecilia gym under the tutelage of the late Sam Washington Sr. I went to St. Cecilia’s school from 2nd to 8th grade, and their freshman year in high school I watched these two hoop from the bleachers prior to cheerleading practice. I had no idea I was watching future NBA Hall of Famers. Fast forward, second semester of my freshman year of high school (Renaissance c/o ‘94… you know how I get down), we play Southwestern in our gym. The place is packed. At the end of the first half, Jalen inbounds the ball and takes it to a little behind half court. With a flick of the wrist, we all watch this perfectly arced ball leave his hands and stand up… SWISH! Everybody LOST it.

After the game, he’s in the hallway, and my boonapolis and I walk past him. “Hey Jalen”, I say. “Hey wassup lil mama, how you been?” “Good, good game!” “Thanks!” My boonapolis (Greek for bestie) looks at me, mouth agape… “No I don’t know him, just seen him play before.” We were 14 and very much impressed with very little. Lol. A few weeks later Jalen’s team won the Michigan High School Class A Championship and Chris Webber was named Mr. Basketball. They both declared they’d be going to the University of Michigan. And just like that basketball would never be the same.

The FAB FIVE

If you watched basketball from 1991-1993, you know that the Fab Five Michigan Wolverines changed the game. They traded those tight small basketball shorts for the long baggy boys, they wore all black shoes and socks, shunned interviews, played Ice Cube and NWA loud in the locker room, and when they entered March Madness, they shaved their heads. Along with Jalen and Chris, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson set fire to the NCAA and basketball in general… it was like watching dudes at the Rucker play against college teams. They brought all the swag, nasty dunks, and urban flavor to Crisler arena, and added some Black to that Maize and Blue. While Webber declared for the NBA Draft in 1993 going 1st overall, Rose went 13th in the 1994 draft. But while they played together at Michigan, they were definitely the stars of the court and brothas who motivated one another.

What’s Beef

Both had successful careers in the NBA and went on to commentate on NBA TV, TNT, and ESPN respectively. In 2002, both attempted to trademark the “Fab Five” phrase, which led to some legal back and forth. That same year, Chris Webber and other Michigan players excluding Rose were called to testify in front of a grand jury about their involvement with booster Ed Martin. Webber was charged with perjuring himself, and later admitted he had been receiving loans from Ed Martin since high school. As a result, Michigan forfeited all if its records while Webber was a player including the 1991-1992 and 1992-1993 Final Four victories and banners. He was suspended from playing for eight games and required to dissociate from Michigan until 2013. After the 2011 ESPN Fab Five documentary aired, which highlighted the scandal, Webber first claimed he wasn’t contacted to participate, which Rose, who helped produce the film, vehemently denied. He then declined to participate knowing the rights to the documentary would be maintained by ESPN and not the players. And then the shit hit the fan.

Chris Webber hit with the Jalen subliminals when he stated…A lot of people…after they retire or they’re looking for a job or they want to be relevant…they go back in time and kind of…make sure their importance is really known……when one guy has a million highlights of himself…as if he was the leading scorer and all the stories are embellished, it’s hard for me.”

To which Jalen responded… “One dude traveled then called timeout. One dude lied to grand jury and hasn’t apologized. One dude tried to circumvent the documentary to HBO. One dude ignored multiple requests from everyone involved after agreeing to participate. One dude slandered Ed Martin after all he did for him and his family. One dude is not in contact with the other four (which is all good). One dude has been doing a rebuttal doc for four years. One dude clearly is delusional and still in denial.”

It continued into 2018 when Webber was invited to be the honorary captain at a football game by Jim Harbaugh. Jalen called the move “calculated” to change the thoughts of those who failed to select Webber to the Hall of Fame after bring nominated a few years in a row. Webber responded saying Rose’s comment was “bullshit” and an attempt by Rose to further entrench himself in the media ranks. And in true tot for tat fashion, Jalen responded with, “ I don’t need to talk about him to further my career. I don’t sell out, I am not a media shill, I do not sell my soul in order to talk about sports on television.” Yikes. So the band and the feud played on, even into Juwan Howard’s selection as the head basketball coach. We waited with baited breath on them to reconcile, hug it out, but nope!

Brotherhood

Black brotherhood is essential and necessary. It is imperative that Black men be able and comfortable to share emotions with one another, and not just women. It is common for women to get perspectives from the feminine and masculine, regarding everything from relationships to their hopes, dreams, health, finances, decisions, etc. For many men, outside of their dialogues about women, they don’t feel socially comfortable diving deeper with their male friends, and thus suffer in silence. That’s neither healthy nor culturally sound.

These two, for Detroiters and Wolverines, were the poster children for Black male friends not being afraid to show emotion, motivate each other, and embrace each other. Their rift reminded us of the fallacy of black-on-black crime… their verbal jousting was like Rico shooting Mitch in the apartment vestibule. That shit was rough to watch. We couldn’t believe they were going out like that. And while a good few of us thought Webber was definitely on that bull… we still wanted him to get it together and just let that shit go. We just wanted them to go back to good times. Dewayne & Ron; Kyle & Overton; Fred & Grady; Mitch, Ace & Rico.

You see, Black male friendships go through ups and downs, changes and growth, the good and bad just like anyone else. Despite what you see on TV, all brothas are not against each other, and in fact, for most of the guys I know, they hold these bonds very dear. It’s important for Black men to be free to bd vulnerable with each other, as it’s something many of them are told is soft and not masculine…which is bullshit. It is important for Black men to hug, dap it up, give each other the head nod to greet men they might not know personally bit share a cultural and social affinity with. It is important for Black men to bury the hatchet, put out the fire, retreat to their corners, and get back in each other’s good graces. What we watched today was some real life Black Boy Joy and Black Men Magic. So here’s to Jalen and Chris … now quick somebody do a celebratory jit Tik Tok in Michigan gear. But while I’m waiting, go Juwan…

“Friends
How many of us have them?
Friends
One’s we can depend on
Friends
How many of us have them?
Friends
Before we go any further, lets be
Friends”- , Friends, Whodini

Reciprocal Responsibility

It’s hard to be friends with people who are not consistent. I’m not talking about old friends… we have an unwritten understanding “whenever you need me I’m already there….” But with friends you are building a relationship with, in order to get to that, pick right back kind of understanding, you have to get there first… and that requires consistency, responsibility, equal effort, and hype man vibes.

Anything worth having takes work… relationships take equal the work from all parties. If I call you, you have to reciprocate and call me. If I invite you out, you have to reciprocate and invite me out. If I am available to and for you, you have to be available to and for me. Pause. Take that in, let it marinate in your brain matter. You cannot have a healthy one sided relationship… that does not work. You cannot have a friendship when it fits your schedule. You cannot expect anyone to be okay with you pushing them aside because you are busy… then see you really ain’t that busy, you are just too busy for them. That won’t sit too well with anyone’s spirit. An unequal friendship is not one at all!

Similarly, someone all up in your face every five minutes is not healthy either. I once had a “friend” who called me ten times a day, and when I didn’t answer, because she lived on my block, she came to my house. I didn’t know what kind of dependency she had with me, but I wanted no parts of it. I called her in it and she told me I was wrong… uhh ok. Her intensity was stalkerish to me in my teens, and reminded me of some weird movie like Cruel Intentions or Wild Things, and I ain’t want NO parts of that. Zero. Keep your odd angst to yourself. I could admit I was not interested in that kind of friend, but she couldn’t admit she was hawking me and bordering on psycho… an irresponsible relationship is not one at all.

We all want to be seen in our best light… but we have to turn that joker on and let it and not our bullshit illuminate who we are. You get seen in the light you use. When you deflect your responsibility in a relationship and then attempt to manipulate someone’s feelings toward you with stories of woe and misfortune, but yet always seem to be grinning and smiling with another mofo… it ain’t hard to tell wassup. In college I had a friend who seemed to friend hop to whomever she hadn’t yet exposed her true self. Once you got to know her though, she was very gossipy and jealous. That was the weirdest friendship I ever had, and totally changed my view of how people operate socially. This person who once called and wanted to hang out daily, a year later I barely spoke to. No thanks, keep that. More importantly don’t try to use me as your springboard for bullshit.

I’ve also known people who were just simply interested in having friends but uninterested in being one. Those folks need to find each other and have those social media popular friendships. But I’m not a Kardashian and I am not interested in that. Either be my real friend or move on. An unequal relationship is not one at all.

Maybe you have experienced some form of these friendships… hopefully not. But know that folks will feed you all their tales, woulda coulda shoulda, and busyness to justify why they are just horrible friends. They just are… and those of us trying hard to be great friends just end up wasting tine. You can tell someone is an awesome friends because they have awesome friends… that’s the telltale sign. I mean I know ultimately that folks adore my boonapolis (Greek for bestie) is because they see me over here being all kinds of great!

“Whenever you need me I’m already there. Its gettin’ done hangin’ out the window
Sayin’ WOOO motherfucker UH
You ride for me I’m a ride for you its only fair” Mystical, How Many

Call ,Text, Zoom, Group Me…Maybe

I am if “I don’t have to talk to you all the time, but when we do talk its like we pick right back up where we left off” was a person…

Yesterday confirmed that while that may be life, because we are all responsible for ourselves, children, spouses and mates, family, friends, organizations, work, self-care, etc., it is necessary to connect and keep in contact with people. Yesterday, I Facetimed with sistafriends off and on, all day, and I laughed, learned, taught, engaged, exhaled, and just had a good time. More than any of that though, the connection just strengthened our support of one another. A safe space to talk open and honest about whatever… work, family, ourselves, and the fuckery other folks display on a regular.

We talked about being genuine. The twisted and dark art of faking the funk. We talked about audacity and desperation. The chicken and the egg conundrum painted in shades of insecurity and egomania. We talked about racism, sexism, and intersectionality and how those play out in different professional spaces. It was a conversation Kimberli Crenshaw would be proud to know her work sparked, both acknowledging, teaching, and seeking solutions. We talked about success, Black success, and the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded Black people. Being in spaces where you are free gives you a easier backdrop in which to learn and grow. We talked about the fact that you have to stay connected in some way with people in order to ensure you are riding for people who you still believe in, respect, enjoy, and belong with. People change, for better or for worse…. or show you who they really are eventually. You only get to see that if you maintain a connection

We left that conversation knowing a little bit more about each other…

******

Friendships are the cornerstone of human relationships. Ideally our romantic relationships start as friendships, we are born into friendship with our same age familial relatives, and those we rear or are reared by eventually become our friends. Then there are those who we just bond with and choose to do life with. People who take up space in our lives that we willingly and happily share. That kind of bond shouldn’t be dishonored by assuming that you will necessarily pick up where you left off. Life happens between those moments… its important to be intentional in supporting each other through them. You can design that in whatever way you see fit. Call, text, letter, card, zoom, group me, whatever. But it’s important, very important to maintain that connection in some way. Friendship with other people needs watering and nourishing like every other living thing in your life. Our friends are after all the personification of sharing.

Today, I became if “I’m gonna work at being more intentional in all my friendships” was a person… with some of y’all! Some folks don’t need to be picked up, just dropped off.

And you got my number too yo… Call Me Maybe!

State Ya Biz

Friend or foe yo?

-Jay-Z

I have always oddly admired folks were were friendly and outgoing, and simultaneously been uninterested in being either of those things. I don’t deal with too many people at once because it’s confusing and I need to know who is real at all times… that’s hard in a big group. I don’t do foes… you won’t be around long enough to even get a title.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten more open because at this point I trust my people skills and refuse to lessen myself to accommodate others. But that comes with greater responsibility to myself. So I refuse to be bothered with you if I find out you are either 1) inconsistent, 2) an imposter, 4) dishonest or 5)selfish. Those things usually come across in how you behave when others are involved… you lie, you fake the funk, you only act in consideration of self and not others, and/or you change your tune depending on the audience. Keep it a dollar with me… cuz if it don’t make dollars…

You draw, better be Picasso, y’know the best

‘Cause if this is not so, ah, god bless

-Jay-Z “Friend or Foe”

I believe in forgiveness and giving folks grace when you know they are good people who just got it wrong. But if you are questioning someone’s goodness… my advice, be on some one hitter quitter type shit. At this point be really vigilant about who you share your spiritual space with… someone behaving irresponsibly with no regard for the other people involved are selfish and will push you in front of a bullet to save themselves; someone dishonest will trick you by looking you in your eye why they are picking your pocket; an imposter will put on whatever camouflage they need to fit into circles they know they don’t belong in… and will hammer their square asses into that round hole no matter the cost; and inconsistent people will kiss the devil in private then go ranting and raving about folks kissing the horned in public.

We have a habit of inviting people into our space because other folks vouch for them or they profess their place. Start making people state their business… what you want ’round here? What are your intentions? Then be real Malcolm X about people… sometimes your own folks turn on you when it benefits them. COINTELPRO type negroes are lurking around every corner taking notes, but then will claim they are there to protect and serve you in friendship. They buy their place with claimed commonality, one hand in the group hug the other robbing you. Imposters and liars. Selfish and unpredictable. Be on some “getcho hand out my pocket” type stuff. Protect your spirit.

There is no need to work it out, keep the peace, get closure, talk it out… they are dirty. Some folks sling dirt (along with drama and petty bs) while others of us use it to grow. As one of my best sistafriends says… we are not all the same. We need dirt to grow, but then we transfer to different and bigger pot. Cross go, collect $200, buy Baltic and Mediterranean, and build on the dirt. Concentrate on you, surround yourself with people who are good to you, who want the best for you, and just claim those other folks foes. Or better yet… call them nothing, but gone. Then flex on ’em…

And promise you never, no matter the weather

Neva eva come around here no mo’

-Jay-Z “Friend or Foe”

The Black Sheep

In the love and relationships, disrespect and jealousy related offenses are especially heinous in real life. My ability to cut you off and move on are unprecedented AF! This is my story…

I have never been a big fan of too many people… could be because my family was small and I was an only child and only grandchild on my mother’s side of the family. I was estranged from my father, so I got all the attention and love I needed in a very small circle. As a result, I have always kept my circles small. Plus, I don’t eat bad apples, and it’s easier to see a bad apple in a smaller bushel! But every now and then…

For the most part, I have maintained long term friendships and relationships. My good girlfriends are really my sistafriends. I have a boonapolis (Greek for bestie, main thang, number one boo) and day one’s, and we go back like bangs at Disneyworld in July. So too have been my relationships with men. Two of my longest relationships have spanned over almost half of my life. One, I was married to and the other I was off and on with for a decade, now permanently off. Fuck him. Anyway… you get the point. I commit, to a very small group of people. My loyalty runs deep.

But lately, folks have been trying me. I have had to euthanize some friendships and a relationship… fuck him… (oh I said that already lol) and since I know now that adversity usually comes with a big life lesson, I’m gonna share this lesson with you. Perhaps you will avoid it by learning it in the here and now. It’s double-layered.

“Who’s the black sheep, what’s the black sheep? Know not who I am, or when I’m coming, so you sleep. Wasn’t in my realm, or wasn’t in your sphere. Knew not who I was but listen here…”

1. People ain’t you!

People show you who they are. We each have a story, and while we are so busy sharing ours we forget to listen to the other person’s. I know if you listen to mine, that you will hear that: I can be centered on self; I am not overtly friendly or extroverted in spaces I have never been; I am selectively sensitive; I talk a lot of shit; I don’t tolerate ignorance or disloyalty; and I’m a fighter for me and mine. Those things aren’t inherently negative, but they might not fit in your world. You won’t know if you don’t listen.

My actions and temperament, ability to forgive, attitude, disposition, values, and traditions are all a function of where I come from, not in the geographical sense but emotionally and relationally. (Well maybe geographically too… I’m from Detroit. We different.) Who influenced me, and what was that influence. Did people mistreat me, and how did I recover from that? But that’s just ME! Other folks are not me. They don’t share my story. They come from a distinctly different set of emotional and relational truths. You won’t know who they are if you don’t listen. But be clear, they are not you!

2. No one owes you SHIT!

You don’t have to be bothered with people who malign your character, are disloyal, disrespectful, hateful, haters, or otherwise just bad for your personal business. That choice is yours. But no one is indebted to you in kindness or compassion, in fairness or loyalty, in friendship or loveship. People get to choose how fucked up or on the up and up they want to be. Their judgement day will come, but no matter what you think you can do about it… nothing you can do can change who they choose to be. Nothing!

Lemme say that again…

No one owes you kindness.

No one owes you compassion.

No one owes you fairness.

No one owes you loyalty.

No one owes you shit.

Trust that people are going to be who they are… that’s their own story! You decide how long , how far, and how much… if at all… you are going to swim in the sea of fucked up, selfish, bitter, resentful, negative, or otherwise unGodly people. That is your story. There is only one you…

the violet in a garden of roses;

the God MC in a group of mumble rappers;

a spelling bee champ amongst those stuck on the first reader;

unique superheroes and mermaids in an imagination dominated by the typical;

a Black Sheep …

“And you can’t beat that with a bat!”

A Poetry Moment: Friends or Foes

If I’m Barack, She’s Biden

Got a body, let’s get to hiding

She got a rap, I’m the hype man

Might add or multiply, never dividing

What about your friends?

We go together, like hip hop

She’s bass, I’m treble, issa bop

Take that, That that, we don’t stop

A coaster and a platter, we that doo-wop

What about your friends?

All I need is my girl friend, Bonnie & Clyde

Thelma and Louise, she’s on my passenger side

The Duke to my Rocky, sitting ringside

No matter who’s driving, always down to ride.

What about your friends?

Buried Bonds

I’m a Scorpio… tried and true.

Likes and dislikes, no maybes in between.

It’s all love or its nfg.

I’m a mystery to most people, only a very few folks know my heart.

But I’m a great friend. That’s right, great! If I f#@% with you, I f#@% with you consistently and intentionally!

I calendar when to check up on folks so I don’t leave them wondering if I care. I give great gifts from my heart. I send epic birthday messages. I try to do little things randomly to show folks they matter. I return calls…eventually, and I k.i.t. with everybody whose yearbook I signed. It might only be so much as a FB post heart… but you know I’m there! I big up my boonapolis so much it perturbs other people… #sorrynotsorry! I take my friendships seriously… so many of my friends are actually my family. But my loyalty isn’t limitless and I have a boiling point. It’s 129 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature at which the human heart begins to fail.

——–

Friendship is a relationship that forms based on similarities but lasts based on accepting differences. When we agree with others, and feel like they support our every move, it’s easy to be friends. Yet, the minute someone changes, metamorphoses into a different, better, unfamiliar, or troubling version of themselves… judgements, hypocrisy, impatience, and chaos often ensues. From water to wine is fine, but from liquid to gas is a whole other ballgame, often one we don’t care to play.

With age and maturity people become more intentional in their dealings with others, but that intention can go either way. Some of us are more gracious than others, willing to extend ourselves further where others fail to reach. While others of us (🙋🏽‍♀️) have a limit that you just aren’t welcome to cross, regardless of your very real imperfections. Our inability to offer you more grace is a flaw in itself. We are all flawed, but your flaws don’t get to inconvenience or worse yet, harm me. Bases were loaded, but you struck out! No mas.

“And here’s another hit Barry Bonds… we outta here baby”

If you have good friends, particularly good girlfriends, my suggestion is that you honor those bonds when you agree and when you disagree. Don’t vomit your insecurities and unfinished mess onto her. Don’t sully her name. Don’t question her integrity. Don’t wish her harm. Don’t issue ultimatums. Don’t show up for an I told you so when you weren’t there for the broken heart. Everybody loves sunny days, but can you stand the 129 degree scorcher?

Don’t Bury Bonds. They often don’t resurrect!

how many of us have them…

Boy meets Girl, Boy likes Girl, Boy & Girl start dating and become a couple. Boy & Girl break up…

Boy meets Girl,  they become friends, they are still friends 20 years later.

We tend to put a lot more time into getting to know our friends. Similarly, we spend more time trying to move away from dating into something more permanent in our partnerships. But friendships tend to last longer… Eros, romantic love, starts off stronger and tends to ebb and flow over time. Philia, or the love characterized in a friendship, is based on a longer lasting selfless care of another that is built stronger over time.

I believe the strongest partnership encompass all the kinds of love…romantic, friendship, and unconditional. There is no shape stronger than a triangle, no structures as large and strong as the pyramids.

There is no real partnership where you have failed to build and continue to build a friendship. The friendship may look different than the one she shares with her sistafriends and he shares with his crew, but if it is built in the image of the Flavor Flav hype man and the Issa Rae mirror b*tch … “you looking real bad, looking like a Queen”… then it is a friendship! Support, encouragement, empowerment, I got your back, you got mine type shit! It takes time, it’s not impatient, and it’s never unkind.

Friendship is the foundation upon which every lasting relationship is built … older married people become more companions than lovers, parents and children grow out of parenting and dependency roles into more reciprocal roles, and even siblings move out of competition and dueling into mutual admiration. So…choose to be friends first and foremost. Be active in getting to know who that person is and how they move. Take your time. Relationships should not mature because dating sucks, but because you have found someone genuine, and you can’t know that until you have rocked hard with that person. Friendship… even if you refuse it… will always be the head cornerstone.

One Love