Looking for Leroy by Mark Anthony Neal

Forthcoming book from Mark Anthony Neal will be a must read


Preface: Waiting for Leroy



1. A Foot Deep in the Culture: The Thug Knowledge(s) of A Man Called Hawk

2. “My Passport Says Shawn”: Toward a Hip-Hop Cosmopolitanism

3. The Block Is Hot: Legibility and Loci in The Wire

4. R. Kelly’s Closet: Shame, Desire, and the Confessions of a (Postmodern) Soul Man

5. Fear of a Queer Soul Man: The Legacy of Luther Vandross

Postscript: Looking for Denzel, Finding Barack

The Layup Line » NBA All-Star Inury Team

NBA All-Star Injury Team

David Leonard

With NBA All-Star balloting in full swing and given that the NBA is slowly but surely turning into a league where “injuries happen,” I thought I should come up with an injured/questionable/doubtful/probable (hurt but will likely play) All-Star Team. Since fans are unlikely to see these players, even as the league justifies its quick return through appealing to fan desires to see the game back on the court, I thought we could celebrate the greatness of the league by reflecting on their absence:

Click through the slide show below to see the starters on this NBA All-Star Injury Team. However, a quick glance at this team’s bench gives you some insight into how potent an injury lineup has emerged a quarter of the way into this season. Bench players: Forwards: Charlie Villanueva; Michael Beasley; Andrea Bargnani. Centers: Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett. Guards: Jason Kidd; Jose Juan Barea, Baron Davis; Eric Maynor. While being flippant here, it is imperative to think about how the 2011-2012 season is one where injuries happen.

Curry is starting to look like his generation’s Steve Nash, another guard whose early career was plagued by nagging injuries. Nash eventually righted himself when he began playing with big men like Dirk Nowitzki and Amar’e Stoudemire who excelled in the pick and roll game. Time will tell if Curry finds his big man counterpart.

For the most-part the media has failed to reflect on the injuries, on how these injuries are the result of the money grab. Yet, it is crucial to not only highlight the cluster of injuries, and the types of injuries that seem to point to the impact of a non-existent training camp and the wear and tear of a compressed season, but what this reveals about the NBA and the sports-industrial complex (not to mention global capitalism). It is emblematic of the ways in which profits are put in front of people. It is emblematic of the logic of Neoliberalism capitalism, which identifies markets, consumer needs, and profit margins as the primary compass for economic relations. The fact that players are suffering injuries in alarming rates is a testament to the ways in which bodies, particularly bodies of color and women, are exploited and abused for sake of money within the sports industry and beyond. As a tenet of capitalism, and reflective of cultural obsession with wealth, it is no wonder that the ideology of profits ahead of people is so visible on NBA benches. So, if you get tired of the NBA’s new motto, “where injuries happen,” maybe we should start calling it “The NBA: profits before people”

via The Layup Line » NBA All-Star Inury Team.

The Layup Line » Will Injuries Derail 2011 NBA Season?

Will Injuries Derail 2011 NBA Season?

by David Leonard

In a much-hyped preseason game between the Los Angeles Lakers and their cross-the-hall “rivals,” the worst possible scenario confronted the 16-time NBA champion: Kobe Bryant was hurt. Falling awkwardly, Bryant tore the lunotriquetral ligament in his right wrist. Less than a week later, the New Jersey Nets announced that Brook Lopez broke his foot during the first half of their game with the New York Knicks. With the Lakers potentially losing a Bryant at full-strength, and the Nets likely without the services of Lopez for 4-6 weeks, the injuries are potentially devastating to both teams, particularly the Nets whose ability to trade for Dwight Howard will be severely limited with the loss of this cornerstone trade asset.

Yet, more than the impact on the respective teams, these injuries highlight both the potential consequences of the NBA’s lockout. While injuries are commonplace, a rushed preseason and a compressed training camp represent a threat to the physical wellbeing of the players themselves. Stephen Smith, in “Expert warns of NBA lockout-related injuries,” compares the injuries that came about as a result of the NFL with the potential with the 2011-2012 season. There, he quotes Timothy Hewett, who is Director of Research at The Ohio State University Medical Center’s Sports Medicine Department: “Extrapolate what we’ve seen in the NFL, and I could see in the NBA in the range of 2, 3, 4 times higher rates of injury. This could be a historic event, where we start to think, ‘Is there a potential for really putting players at risk by these legal wranglings?’”

As evident, the injury bug has not been limited to the league’s stars, with Darrell Author (out for the year), Stephen Curry, and Marcus Camby all facing significant injuries. Celtics forward Jeff Green will also have to sit out this season because of a heart ailment discovered during his preseason physical. There’s also the improbable case of Sacramento Kings forward Chuck Hayes who in the span of two weeks went from the brink of having to end his NBA career after he was released by the Kings because of a heart condition diagnosed during his initial physical, only to be resigned by the Kings when Hayes’ doctors concluded that his diagnosis was not as severe as earlier believed.

While unable to blame these injuries on the lockout, it is hard not to think about the connection. And as the Hayes situation reveals, an incident in years past that might have taken a month or so to resolve, appeared to have been hastily resolved in two weeks all in an effort to get the show on the road. Contrary to all the speculation about “Will Kobe Play on Sunday,” these injuries, the rush to push the lockout behind, and the determination to start the season on Christmas/NBC/National TV days all point to the central focus anywhere and everywhere except on the physical health of the NBA’s players.

These injuries also point to the absurdity of the league’s best effort to cultivate rivalries and to manipulate and change the rules to guarantee parity. David Stern is unable to veto the injuries of Bryant, Lopez, or Curry for basketball reasons; just as he wasn’t able to veto the injury of David Robinson in 1997, which ultimately led the Spurs to draft Tim Duncan. Success, rivalries, and dynasties all organically happen; they won’t be the result of the manipulation and rule shifting policies of the league.

No matter how the rules are changed to “spread the stars” around the league, no matter how restrictive the system is on player movement, and no matter how much the NBA and ESPN tries to sell the game as one of rivalries rather than superstars, the league cannot control everything. They cannot control injuries, they cannot control players’ willingness to take less money, they cannot control for up-and-coming players (Marc Gasol; Kevin Love; Danny Granger) nor can the league guarantee that the next superstar will indeed deliver. The league cannot prevent injuries for its stars, but if they could they would certainly do it to protect its financial interests.

via The Layup Line » Will Injuries Derail 2011 NBA Season?.

NewBlackMan: A Prayer for Sophie


“Woman with Dead Child” by Kathe Kollwitz


A Prayer for Sophie

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

Five years ago, on October 2, 2006, our family experienced one of life’s great joys, the birth of our second child, Sophie Nicole Leonard. We had spent the months leading up to her birth excitingly waiting for her to join our family. I can still remember painting her room or getting all of the baby stuff ready; the vivid image of our oldest daughter shouting to her unborn sister “the eggs are coming down and they taste really good,” as my partner ate her breakfast, remains encased in my mind.

Our joy and excitement would quickly turn into devastating agony, with our daughter ultimately succumbing to an infection, dying in the early morning of October 3rd. In an instant, we had lost our child, a tragedy that was beyond our imagination, even though its occurrence is too common throughout the world. Every detail of that day sits with me: getting dropped off at the hospital; how sick my wife looked when I entered the room; the sights and sounds when Sophie entered the world. More vivid and painful are the memories of where I was sitting when she went into cardiac arrest, the clothes I was wearing, the hospital smell, and the sounds of “code blue.” To this day, I still cannot see a helicopter without thinking about the 60+ mile trip I took in the dark, so close to my dying daughter yet unable to help or hold her. I cannot shake these memories nor can I shake those moments alone in a sterile and quiet hospital at 3AM where I obsessively watched the various monitors as evidence of her continued life. Just closing my eyes now, I can still see myself in the waiting room – waiting for things to turn around, waiting for my wife to arrive, waiting for the pain to stop; waiting . . . waiting, only to see her die in front of us, holding her one time before we drove those 60 long miles home.

While it has been five years, these memories remain strong. They remain with me. So does the number of people who told me, “It’s not suppose to happen.” While understanding people’s efforts to ease our pain by noting disbelief and shock since it wasn’t suppose to happen to “us,” the idea that we (and not others) were suppose to be immune to the tragedy of losing our daughter is one that sticks with me. It isn’t suppose to happen to anyone, but it happens all too often within the United States and globally.

For every 1,000 live births, 4.5 babies die in the United States. While relatively uncommon in the United States, the U.S. accounts for the second largest amount of neonatal deaths (that includes child deaths within the first 27 days of life) in the industrialized world. Compared to other countries around the world, the United States ranks with Croatia, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar, and lags behind Cuba, Slovakia, all of Western Europe and Scandinavia. The situation is even worse when as we look at racial inequality, especially as we look at the first year of life. African American children are 2.5 times more likely to die before their first birthday than white children.

Continue reading NewBlackMan: A Prayer for Sophie.