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Beloved Toni Morrison leaves a legacy of language and power.

Beloved Toni Morrison leaves a leagacy of language, and power

Are there words for our Beloved Toni Morrison? Is the English language expansive enough to explain and encompass her depth? It wasn’t when countless others died. Toni Morrison made words move. She breathed life into them, and those words, her words moved our souls. I can not shape and pull the English language in her masterful way. This tribute is heartfelt, yet inadequate because today language fails me. 

My Introduction to Toni Morrison

My mom is an avid reader of all things, people and genres. She’s always read everything from Steven King to Jean Toomer, to Maya Angelou to Terry McMillan to Toni Morrison. Yes, before you ask my name is indeed courtesy of Karintha by Jean Toomer. At any rate, I thought I had a firm handle on black authors. I even had the nerve to think my mother had given me a deep love and appreciation of said authors by osmosis. She hadn’t what she gave was the foundation.

It’s appropriate that I fell madly, deeply in love with Toni Morrison’s mastery of language while attending Howard University. Maybe it was because I was sitting in classrooms or walking in spaces she’d walked before me, but somehow her words took on a life all of their own. They were the same words I’d read many times before. Words that I used with audacity in my little sentences thinking myself a writer, and hilariously a poet. On Howard’s campus, Toni Morrison’s words vibrated with a rhythm and heartbeat of their own. Like their writer, they made no apology for being everything. Your feelings were just that your feelings and none of her words’ business. There is a richness and vividness to her words that evokes power. 

The glow up and appreciation of Toni Morrison

I remember sitting in class fuming because I couldn’t do a term paper on the writings of the Great One. Truthfully, I’m still a little salty about it. My professor who shall remain nameless, was right. I didn’t have the grit, or life experience I needed to even say Toni Morrison’s name much less call myself trying to discuss and interpret her writings. That’s not exactly how my professor put it, but that was the gist. I think her actual commentary was, I and therefore my writing seemed a little too sheltered to give a subject with the depth of Toni Morrison adequate examination.

Not that I feel some way or still have her commentary memorized. It was the truth. At that point in my life I might’ve been hard pressed to explain why a woman born Chloe Wofford would call herself Toni. I could not have waxed poetically about any of her poetry or novels. 

Yes, I’ve lived a little, loved, survived and come through the other side I’m still not grown enough or masterful enough to speak on the writings of the Queen. This is a dissertation of her greatest works. There is not a greatest because her writing is great. Every facet, every syllable grabs your soul and refuses to let go until your eyes fall on the next few words. 

She was the voice of our culture and experience

In every way she is the epitome of all things Howard. A true Howard girl who became a Howard woman. She found love at the Mecca. If they put a picture of her on a flyer and declared Howard will bring out the Toni Morrison in you, it wouldn’t be a stretch. It’s easy to believe that the best of you could find the air to soar pn the Hilltop where Chloe became Toni Morrison.

NewsWeek declared her Black Magic decades before Black Girl Magic became a thing. Toni Morrison was the definiant spirit who refuses to settle for mediocre so in an effort to make a better condition she uses her gifts to move our brothers and sisters. She was regal, and strong with the depth and complexity of the universe. She was and is everything a Howard Bison is and then some. 

Though I never met her, I’m certain there was a grace and softness to her that reserved for her dear ones and beloveds. My favorite pictures of Toni Morrison are of her laughing. Usually she’s pictured with a light smile or looking stern. I love those too because it reminds me of my grandmother. Still, the pictures of her laughing especially the few with head thrown back in sheer glee make my heart leap with joy. I can almost hear her laughing at the trials and tribulations of love with one of her dear ones and then saying,

Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.

In my head she gave the best advice. How could she speak with authority, teach people to be their full selves, and give words life and give less than stellar advice? Something tells me she was trash talking high fiving spades or whist player. You know she fired off quotable quips quotable quips at leisure while giving advice, laughing, and enjoying life. 

Toni Morrison was the soul of black creatives

She was us in every way. I think the humanity of her writing is why so many of my friends and colleagues today are at a loss. Toni Morrison was a thread in the tapestry of life. That thread connected us inexplicably. This morning the first post I saw on the gram was a picture of her with a quote. I kept scrolling making a mental note to read it later. That’s usually what I do when I see Naima‘s posts. I need time to cackle, or chat with her, or do the dance of joy for her latest dope thing so I put her in the double back pile. Before I could double back Jamilah Lemieux posted. When I saw her post without reading a word I knew. It felt like something in me snapped. Instantly every word I thought I knew flew out of my head.

The unspeakable goodbye

Naima and Jamilah were able to gather their words, and synapses to pen eloquent posts. Most of us, the mere mortals of us, who dare call ourselves creatives were lost, broken, wounded. I saw countless posts from people saying they couldn’t find the words to describe what Toni Morrison meant to us.

In a way it felt like she was immortal. If anyway was ever capable of defying death it would’ve been her. Literally everyone and their grandmother seemed struck by the transition of Toni Morrison. Gabrielle Union‘s thoughts resonated with me. She found the words that escaped me this morning.

What do you say about the keeper of the words and vibes of a people when the keeper becomes part of infinity? Maybe you don’t say anything in that moment. It’s ok to take a moment and breathe it all in, to sort yourself and find your balance. Selfishly I thought and said to a friend but what do we do now that our greatest lights are gone?

We need their balm of words and their strength to navigate these difficult times. Before she could answer I felt a shift. It was like I heard the words are yours now, we left you plenty and now it’s time for you all to link arms and use the words to give people peace, hope. It’s up to this generation we leave behind to explain and define our experience. My words, Maya’s and all the rest will still be there to guide you, but you can do this. Make no apology about your convictions, be strong in voice, love with abandon, and use the words.

Quoting Toni Morrison

She had a quote fore every feeling and experience. Whatever the need or occasion she had something to soothe or uplift your soul. All day I’ve had three of her quotes on repeat in my head. The first one has actually been in my head for a few days because of the current climate of hateful racism and division.

If you can only be tall because someone else is on their knees, you have a serious problem.

Up next is my hands down favorite Toni Morrison quote. It’s from the Song of Solomon.

If you wanna fly, you gotta give up the thing that weighs you down.

We often clip our wings and give up our power to soar. It’s easy to let human experiences and excuses weigh down. it seems simple but in reality it’s just a choice. Hold on to the crap weighing you down or let go and soar.

We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.

Indeed it was, it is, and will always be. I’m thankful, that I had the pleasure of basking in the sunshine and warmth of her words.Toni Morrison is still the best of us. She is our voice, our light and our truth. You and your candor will be missed, rest well beloved.

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BIG3 Basketball brings Former Jazz players back to Salt Lake City

Al Jefferson is excited about returning to Salt Lake City with the BIG3 Basketball league. He spent three of his 14 NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz.  Though Jefferson’s time with the Jazz was short lived, the stint made a huge impression on him. “I feel like Utah really saved my career,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune. 

BIG3 gives Al Jefferson a chance to visit NBA cities he called home

The Boston Celtics drafted the 6-foot-10, 280-pound center, straight out of high-school in Mississippi.  The veteran big man was one of the few who successfully transitioned from high-school to the NBA without going to college first. 

During his third season with the Celtics, Jefferson doubled his production on the court. During the offseason, they traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves. In Minnesota his numbers continued to improve, he averaged (20.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks) during his three seasons with the Timberwolves.

It thrilled Jefferson to leave Minnesota for Salt Lake City. “Utah was that team that was used to winning’, Jefferson said. ‘… They kind of taught me the professional way — how a first-class organization does things.” 

Trouble in the locker room between future Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams made the move to the Jazz more difficult than Jefferson expected.  The chaos led to Sloan quitting abruptly mid-season and Williams being traded the New Jersey Nets. 

“I feel like I was headed down that road of being labeled as a good player on a bad team,” he said. “And [the Jazz] gave me a new life.”

Jefferson continued reminiscing about his time in the NBA.
 “the NBA don’t owe me anything.”

After playing in China for a short spell Jefferson hung up his high tops and walked away from basketball. His plan was to retire and start a new chapter without basketball. A call from BIG3 and NBA veteran Jannero Pargo  changed his retirement plans. Pargo asked him to give Ice Cube’s summer basketball league a shot.

“He called me up and said, ‘We got Joe Johnson playing,’ and I said, ‘Well, you know, that might not be a bad idea,’” Jefferson said with a laugh. “And you know, this has been a lot of fun, man.… If you got that itch, this is a good way to scratch it.”

Back together again

This season Jefferson is averaging 11.0 points and 5.6 rebounds for the 4-1 Triplets. Three of the league’s stops have been like old home week for Jefferson and his fans. So far this season he has made stops in Charlotte, and Indianapolis, Salt Lake City completes the three-city trifecta. He playfully took credit for the league’s schedule.
“Wow, they must’ve known I was gonna sign with the BIG3!” Jefferson said.

Fellow former Utah Jazz player, Joe Johnson found success with the BIG3. Johnson is balling and putting up MVP numbers this season. He spoke to the Salt Lake City Tribune about playing with Jefferson in the BIG3 and the Jazz.

“Man, Al’s just a supercool, laid-back kinda guy. He reminds me so much of myself — low-maintenance, easygoing; Al comes out every weekend and competes hard,” Johnson said. “… just takes it for what it’s worth, man, and has fun with it. I enjoy him as a teammate. He’s a great guy.”

BIG3 Season 3 Rules

The BIG3 is comprised of 12 teams. Former NBA players, many of them Hall of Famers or future Hall of Famers compete in the half-court games. Games are played in the 3 on 3 format. The first team to 50 gets the W. A 4-point shot area keeps the games interesting. Check out this short video for a more detailed look at the rules for the BIG3 Basketball league.

BIG3 take over in Salt Lake City, Utah

Jefferson explained the excitement and competitiveness the players bring to the league. “It’s really intense. I think the fans will really appreciate that guys are out there playing their butts off and really trying to compete and win.” That’s the kind of hoop skills Utah Jazz can appreciate. Saturday night should give fans going through NBA withdrawal a much needed fix.

When the BIG3 arrives in Salt Lake City Saturday July 28, 2019 Jefferson, Joe Johnson, and DeShawn Stevenson should feel right at home. The former NBA veterans all spent time on the Utah Jazz roster during their NBA careers. Fans can count on a show stopping BIG3 action from their former hometown favorites.

Whether the NBA, NCAA, or Rucker’s streetball the BIG3 has something every hoop fan will love. The league is a throwback to pure basketball, and fundamentals. There’s the banging defense and trash talking of old school basketball, mixed with the flair of today’s NBA. It’s the perfect slice of summer basketball. The games are competitive and entertaining, but short enough so the older or injury prone guys aren’t having issues competing. No one wants to see a winded Hall of Famer looking gassed on the court. The format keeps everyone looking fresh and the games interesting.

Six of the league’s 12 teams will match-up in Salt Lake City. Fans will see 3’s Company vs. Killer 3s; Ball Hogs vs. Triplets; and Bivouac vs. Aliens. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster. Tune in and watch the games live on each week on CBS.

RBRM aka Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky & Mike take high energy show to Denver

First there was the talent shows and New Edition. Then Bobby Brown told us about his prerogatives. We jammed to the thumping bass as Bell Biv DeVoe smoothed hip-hop out on the R&B tip. New Edition made them household names their solo carers made them megastars. RBRM is the latest branch on the New Edition tree. Ronnie DeVoe, Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, and Mike Bivins have spent a lifetime together as friends, building a brotherhood and singing the music that became the soundtrack of a generation.

The New Edition Movie, and the Bobby Brown Story  gave us a glimpse into their journey. They are much more than business partners who sing and move in harmony. There’s love there too and that love is the reason behind the tours. The love they have for each other, their fans, and for performing is front and center. You can feel it in the sibling like banter that stems from over 40 years of brotherhood and friendship. The love comes across in their social media posts, and encounters with fans. During an appearance on The View, Ricky explained how the tour and the newest branch of the NE family tree came about.

From Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike to RBRM

Longtime fans, knew the origin story behind the group’s name immediately. Any self-proclaimed NE 4 Lifer who couldn’t identify the nod to the line in New Edition’s “Cool It Now” might want to remove their New Edition and Bobby Brown buttons from their sleeve and retire any thoughts of being promoted to official Candy Girl. In the Cool It Now Video RBRM (then known simply as Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike,) were doing what friends do, giving unsolicited advice, and having fun. Who could imagine this playful ribbing would turn into a global tour that spanned almost 60 cities, and multiple countries? RBRM kicked off the first leg of their tour last fall in September after the Bobby Brown Story aired on Bet.

RBRM 4 The Love of It

RBRM kicked of the second leg of the tour in late April. Since then the multi-platinum icons have crisscrossed the country. Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky and Mike give fifty and fine a whole new perspective. They’re still able to perform the complicated dance choreography they are known for.

The tightly knit band of brothers continues their blockbuster summer tour this week with stops in Denver, and Las Vegas. They’ll close out the week with a Father’s Day concert in Oakland, CA. The fellas get a short break and some R&R before heading back out on the road. They are scheduled to perform at the several music festivals this summer including a performance at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans.

Many of RBRM’s iconic hits defined a moment in R&B. New Edition is the blueprint other boy bands followed to success. While Bobby Brown and Teddy Riley were perfecting the New Jack Swing sound, Bell Biv DeVoe was smoothing hip-hop out with R&B touches and rap monolagues. Finding the right mix of songs that honors everything RBRM has given the music industry is a tall order. But Boston’s favorite sons are up to the challenge.

Concert goers get enough New Edition, Bobby Brown, and Bell Biv DeVoe hits to feel the full experience. But make no mistake this is not a watered down version of New Edition. This is Bobby Brown and Bell Biv DeVoe coming together to form a super R&B Voltron. From the moment DJ Shakim takes the stage, to the last explosion of bass thumps from the stage Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, and Mike have the crowd rocking.

RBRM, Mya, H-Town, and Club Nouveau ready to rock the Mile High City

Mya, H-Town and Club Nouveau will round out the show at the Denver Coliseum on June 12. Club Nouveau helped define the New Jack sound with hits that included Lean On Me, and Rumors . H-Town gave the world Knockin’ Da Boots and the remake of A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. The group was able to effortlessly slide in the groove between New Edition, Jodeci, and Jagged Edge. They were a little edgier but they still knew how to act if you wanted to daydream about taking them home to meet your mom.

Even though the Denver show falls on a work night, do yourself a favor and grab a ticket to this show. Come prepared. You’re going to dance like you probably haven’t in years. When you wake up Thursday you may have some aches and pains but the smile on your face will tell everyone you encounter you had fun doing it. You will probably lose your voice, because somewhere along the 41 year journey you’ll think you can sing as well as RBRM. Trust me, you can’t, and when you go through your camera feed later in the week you’ll realize they’re legends for a reason. After the show you’ll be glad you went, sad it’s over, and scrolling through Ticketmaster looking for another show in your area.

Don’t forget the souvenirs

After having the time of your life, you’ll want something to remind you of all the fun. Stop by the merchandise booths to pick up all your RBRM merchandise. In addition to RBRM souvenirs, exclusive Code Red SportyRich Apparel items are also available in select cities. Michael Bivins and SportyRich Apparel have more items still to come in the Code Red line. So far the line is a hit with everyone from 3 to 93. It features unisex slides, and a unisex crossbody bag collaboration between SportyRichApparel and Dope Duffle. It’s the perfect bag to keep you fly and hands free during all of your summer fun. Act fast and check www.sportyrichapparel.com often because many items are selling out fast. And of course we can’t forget about BBrown. Bobby has an entire line of flavorful sauces and seasonings available on Bobby Brown Foods.

Still looking for tickets? A few seats are still available, so cross your fingers and then check Ticketmaster, or your local venues to see what’s available in your area. Fans in Denver can check the Denver Coliseum website or the Facebook page for RK Promotions LLC for information about the show on June 12, 2019.

**Images courtesy of ABC, RBRM, an Getty Images. All rights reserved by the original parties. Updated 6/110/2019

NBA

Warriors sweep into their 5th consecutive NBA Final

Some call it luck, others call it destiny, a few call it skill. Call it whatever you want, for the 5th straight year the Warriors head to the NBA Finals after dominating the NBA Western Conference.

Del Curry’s oldest son Steph Curry and the defending NBA Champions made short work of Damian Lillard, Seth Curry, and the Portland Trail Blazers. The Sweep of Portland puts them in prime position to win a coveted 3-Peat. Golden State won defeated LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015, 2017, and 2018.

History in the Warriors’ Sweep

Steph Curry and the Warriors made history in several ways during the Warriors’ Sweep of the Trail Blazers.

After sweeping the Trail Blazers 4-0 in NBA Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors became only the second team in the NBA to appear in five consecutive NBA Finals. The Boston Celtics are the only other team in NBA History to accomplish that feat. Boston appeared in 10 consecutive finals from 1957 – 1966, winning 9 NBA titles during that span. Golden State is clinched the Western Conference Title defeating Portland 119-117 in overtime Monday Night in Portland.

This is the sixth time in the last five seasons that Steph Curry and the Warriors have swept a team to advance in the NBA Playoffs.

Steph Curry and Draymond Green became the first teammates to each record triple-doubles in an NBA postseason game when they accomplished the feat in Game 4 against the Blazers, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Seth and Steph Curry whose father Dell Curry also played in the NBA became the first brothers in NBA history to go head to head in a Conference Finals game.

Papa and Momma Curry flip for their kids

Dell and Sonya Curry, the NBA hoopers’ parents had a bit of fun with the historic first. The two reportedly flipped a coin to determine who would root for and wear what jersey at each game. On the end the Currys opted for dual sided jerseys each sporting a jersey representing each son.

Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, mom is gonna be momma regardless of what jersey she has on. Sonya was supposed to leave the cheering for Steph and the Warriors to Dell but her mom instincts took over. Regardless of what jersey she displayed on the front side momma Curry cheered for both her sons every time they touched the ball.

The Warriors will get some much needed rest while they wait for the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors. Both Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins have missed games recently due to injury. The break will give the Warriors a chance to get healthy. The Milwaukee Bucks lead the Toronto Raptor 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Game 4 of that series is Tuesday.