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The story of Muhammad Ali’s conversion to Islam and defiant refusal to fight in Vietnam, which thrust him into the center of a blistering political controversy and lost him his championship title.
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The incident was on the heels of months of hostilities and chatter from fans about whether the upstart Cardi had usurped Nicki as rap’s top female artist. Could the two coexist in rap’s most commercial sphere? Was there serious bad blood? Several social media posts and passive-aggressive song lyrics later, Cardi was hurling a shoe at Minaj and being escorted out of the Plaza Hotel with a torn dress and a very visible knot on her forehead.
“When you mention my child, you choose to like comments about me as a mother, make comments about my abilities to take care of my daughter is when all bets are fuckin off!!” Cardi B wrote later on Instagram. “I’ve worked to hard and come too far to let anyone fuck with my success!!!!”
Immediately following the melee, Minaj avoided directly commenting on what had happened. Nicki wouldn’t break her silence on the incident until a few days later, during an appearance on her Beats 1 radio show, Queen Radio.
“You’re angry and you’re sad. This is not funny,” Minaj said of Cardi B. “Get this woman some fucking help. This woman’s at the highest point in her career and she’s throwing shoes?”
Nicki shared that she was deeply embarrassed by the fight.
“The other night I was a part of something so mortifying and so humiliating to go through in front of bunch of upper echelon—and it’s not about white or black—it’s about upper echelon people who are you know people who have their lives together, the way they pass by looking at this disgusting commotion I will never forget. I was mortified. I was in [an] Alexandre Vauthier gown, okay, off the motherfucking runway, okay, and I could not believe how humiliating it all felt because we—and I use ‘we’ loosely and I’m going to clarify ‘we’—how we made ourselves look and I’m going to get back but before I go I want to say I would never discuss someone’s child and it’s so sad for someone to pin that on me because I’m the bad guy and they know people would believe that.”
A public brawl in front of countless media that you had no idea was coming is more than a justifiable reason to feel embarrassed. When you’re a star with a brand, these episodes could suddenly take money out of your pocket and opportunities out of your reach. But there was also an added shame that Nicki referenced in her comments.
“You just had the biggest blessing of your life with a child and in two weeks, you have attacked three women, one at fashion week?!” Nicki also said, referring to Cardi’s new motherhood and the fact that B has gone after women suspected of dalliances with her fiancé, Offset. “And left looking the way you left looking so that people could point their fingers at our culture and our community and laugh at us some more?”
Nicki’s words and some of the reactions also speak to something beyond personal shame from being a part of a disruptive moment. Her indication that “we” made “ourselves look” a certain way speaks to age-old ideas about black folks, representation, and white spaces. Nicki was ashamed because she knew that white people would look at what happened and decide: “That’s black folks for you.”
After Nicki’s Queen Radio commentary, Myleeza Kardash tweeted: “Nicki right. Y’all think that photo of Cardi leaving NYFW is so raw, but that shit is EMBARRASSING. Y’all know how long it took for hip hop culture to be respected in fashion?”
The reality of racism means that non-white people are subject to slants and stereotypes based on any perceived misdeed by “representatives” of their race or ethnic group, and those non-white people can be completely marginalized because of that stereotyping. But the way we shift that reality is not by wringing our hands at how bad behavior “made us look” to anyone. The racist will think what they will—but hip-hop, in general, and black folks, in particular, can’t let every misstep become a study in how “we made ourselves look.”
It’s no revelation that hip-hop is often seen as the “new kid” in popular culture, and most pointedly, there’s a sense that this barely-respectable genre of “ghetto” music is “lucky” whenever it is allowed to grace the same spaces and stages as more supposedly established examples of gaudy celebrity culture, such as NYFW. But the idea that rappers have to tread lightly because they happen to be in these allegedly refined environs doesn’t recognize that the presence of these black stars in these spaces adds to the event’s cache inasmuch as it boosts the rapper’s profile. They need your black cool at least as much as you think you need their white platform.
Hip-hop doesn’t need to fight for acceptance in spaces like NYFW any more than it requires the Ivy League co-signs that have become so fashionable over the last 20 years or so of elite academia. Despite the allure, the culture was never dependent on validation from any of the supposedly more “established” platforms, and it’s one of the more damnable offenses of contemporary pop culture that we’ve convinced a generation that hip-hop only matters when it’s been stamped by outside approval. Hip-hop culture doesn’t need anyone’s endorsement—no matter what the rap industry leads you to believe.
And yes, it’s frustrating to watch one of the biggest in the game defer to that attitude. Three years ago, Minaj felt slighted by Miley Cyrus’ comments in a New York Times interview. “If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement,” Miley said in regards to Minaj’s valid criticism of racial biases in MTV Video Music Awards voting. “But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it.” Miley also asserted that Nicki is “not very polite”: “What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj—is not too kind.”
Minaj challenged the pop star via an infamous proclamation from the award-show podium in front of a television audience of millions during the 2015 MTV VMAs.
“Back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me the other day in the press. Miley—what’s good?”
The implication was confrontation and Minaj was unapologetic in her cocky awards show moment. Of course, the VMAs have a reputation for a certain brand of anarchy, so the Miley/Nicki beef was par for the course. But that defiance from Nicki then became “how this made us look” because New York Fashion Week was the wrong place for such behavior. That can be recognized, but what should also be acknowledged is that the white gaze reshapes a lot of how those upon whom it is fixed see themselves.
Nicki Minaj and Cardi B got into a fight. It’s regrettable. But what trendy white folks will think after witnessing “ghetto” behavior is the least of why anyone should care. They will judge you however they see fit—racism is never valid and never deserved, so don’t allow it to feed any sense of shame. If anything, recognize that sometimes crazy stuff happens, move on as needed, and dare anyone to try and use an odd outlier of an incident to justify stereotyping. That racist culture can’t be challenged if black folks are constantly acquiescing to it. Even when something immature happens, you can’t let the racism of respectability make you believe “they” get to determine who you are. Don’t be embarrassed for black people or hip-hop at fashion week. And know that black people will still look just fine the next day.
Released earlier in the 2018, the power collaboration has eased its way to the top of the charts as the groovy song which has a message for anyone with a negative vibe adequately serves as the perfect anthem for the clubs.
“Barbie Dreams” is a re-make of the Notorious B.I.G.’s 1993 track “Just Playing (Dreams).” The visual follows Nicki’s recent videos for “Ganja Burn,” her 6ix9ine-collaboration “FEFE,” the Ariana Grande-featuring “Bed,” and “Chun-Li.”
Earlier today, Nicki called out Cardi B on a new episode of “Queen Radio” following their altercation at New York Fashion Week. Nicki recently the postponed North American leg of her planned tour with Future.
The NICKIHNDRXX Tour will now begin in Europe in February 2019. Future will no longer join Nicki for the North American shows, tentatively slated for May 2019.
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Serena Williams lashed out against the umpire during her U.S. Open tennis final against Naomi Osaka after he accused Williams and her coach of illegally communicating during the match on Saturday. Williams ultimately lost the Grand Slam tournament to Osaka.
During the match, umpire Carlos Ramos issued several violations against Williams. In the first violation, Ramos accused Williams of receiving coaching from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, who was in the stands. Mouratoglou had apparently motioned for Williams to go to the net more often.
The second violation was issued after Williams broke her tennis racket in frustration, which led to a point penalty. Ramos issued a third violation, which included a game penalty, after Williams confronted him and called him a “thief.”
“You stole a point from me,” she said. “You’re a thief.”
After Ramos issued the first coaching violation, Williams approached the umpire chair and calmly defended herself.
“I don’t cheat to win. I’d rather lose,” Williams told Ramos. “I’m just letting you know.”
When she received a point reduction for breaking her racket, she confronted Ramos again.
“You owe me an apology,” she told the referee. “I have never cheated in my life. I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right for her. I’ve never cheated, and you owe me an apology. You will never do another one of my matches.”
Later, speaking to referee Brian Earley and Women’s Tennis Association official Donna Kelso, Williams said the violations Ramos issued against her don’t happen to male players.
“There’s a lot of men out here that have said a lot of things and because they’re a man, that doesn’t happen to them,” she told the officials.
Osaka, 20, beat Williams 6-2, 6-4 following Williams’ third code violation.
Following Osaka’s victory, Williams asked those in the crowd to stop booing and instead celebrate Osaka’s first Grand Slam win.
Mouratoglou, for his part, said he was attempting to coach Williams but that he doubted the athlete was paying attention to him.
“If I’m honest I was coaching, [but] I don’t think she looked at me,” Mouratoglou said following the game.
In a tearful response to her victory, Osaka said she wished the circumstances of her win had been different.
“I know that everyone was cheering for her, and I’m sorry it had to end like this,” she said.
Naomi Osaka of Japan (R) hugs Serena Williams after their match in the women’s final on Day 13 of the 2018 U.S. Open tennis tournament in Queens, New York, Sept. 8.
The National Black Police Association says police backlash to Nike’s campaign “perpetuates the narrative that police are racist.”
When Nike announced this week that former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick would be the face of their new 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, some police groups quickly responded by condemning the decision.
But for at least one police organization, Kaepernick’s role in the Nike campaign is a welcome development. The National Black Police Association released a letter this week defending the athlete and arguing that police officers hold a diverse range of attitudes about the NFL protests that Kaepernick has come to symbolize.
“The NBPA believes that Mr. Kaepernick’s stance is in direct alignment with what law enforcement stands for — the protection of a people, their human rights, their dignity, their safety and their rights as American citizens,” the group wrote in a September 5 letter to Nike Chairman and CEO Mark Parker.
The new Nike campaign, which includes a television ad set to air during the NFL season opener as well as apparel and merchandise, has reignited an ongoing controversy about Kaepernick and the NFL protests he started two years ago.
Police unions have emerged as particularly strong critics of Kaepernick, regularly raising the argument that the kneeling protest is disrespectful to military veterans and law enforcement. Earlier this week, two other police organizations released letters criticizing Nike for its new campaign.
The dueling letters highlight a point that often goes unaddressed: The same racial and political divides that have influenced how people view Kaepernick and the NFL protest are also present in police forces. But those differences are rarely acknowledged by those critical of Kaepernick’s protest.
Critics say Kaepernick’s protest disrespects police. Some officers disagree.
Two years ago, in the summer of 2016, Kaepernick began the NFL protests, sitting during the national anthem at several preseason games to protest police violence and America’s treatment of people of color. Kaepernick later switched his protest to kneeling, and a number of other players joined his protest during the 2016 season.
Backlash to the protests intensified last September when President Trump called kneeling players “sons of bitches” who should be fired. Trump has repeatedly framed the protests as being about patriotism rather than racial injustice, arguing that kneeling protesters did not respect America or the flag.
Police organizations have also joined in. Most recently, in Florida, a police union called for a boycott of the Miami Dolphins after players on the team protested during the 2018 preseason. Other officers have focused squarely on Kaepernick, regularly pointing to a 2016 photo of the quarterback wearing a pair of socks that showed pigs dressed as police officers.
After Nike’s new campaign announcement, they directed these criticisms at the company. On Tuesday, the National Fraternal Order of Police issued a statement saying that the “law enforcement profession is being insulted,” and added that “the men and women in law enforcement believe in something and are prepared to sacrifice everything.”
Another group, the National Association of Police Organizations, directly called for a boycott, referring to Kaepernick as “a shallow dilettante seeking to gain notoriety by disrespecting the flag for which so many Americans have fought and died.”
But for the National Black Police Association, the criticisms outlined in NAPO’s letter were not a fair reflection of their beliefs about the athlete and his protest. Additionally, the group argued, the strong police response against Kaepernick “only perpetuates the narrative that police are racist, with no regard, acknowledgment, respect, or understanding of the issues and concerns of the African American community.”
”The African American community makes a sacrifice each time a life is unjustly lost at the hands of the very people who should protect them,” their letter to Parker explains. “A sacrifice is made each time the criminal justice system treats people of color as less than. A sacrifice is made each time a letter is sent asking officers to boycott a corporation, without asking those very African American officers who are most affected, what their opinion is.”
This isn’t the first time that law enforcement groups have supported Kaepernick. The Washington Post notes that a group of NYPD officers — some retired, others still working — held a rally supporting Kaepernick last year.
And as a new football season gets underway, more officers are pushing back against the idea that they are all opposed to Kaepernick and the NFL protests.
“As black officers, we often find ourselves riding the wave with other officers, but no one has asked us what our opinion is,” Sonia Y.W. Pruitt, chairperson of the National Black Police Association, told the Washington Post. “On many of these social issues we disagree, but nobody knows that, because the assumption is that if you’re a police officer that you all think the same way.”
Kaepernick, the narrator in the video, starts by saying: “If people say your dreams are crazy, if they laugh at what you think you can do — good, stay that way, because what non-believers fail to understand is that calling a dream crazy is not an insult, it’s a compliment.”
The roughly two-minute clip ends with Kaepernick saying: “So don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”
Nike has never been a brand to conform to mainstream strategies or predictable creative, in their shoe design or in their advertising messaging. Much like the endorsers they select, who are typically at the top of their sport, Nike tends to lead rather than follow.
They’re bold, in your face and without apology. They are true to their core customer and speak loudly and clearly to their target audience. In some cases, if others just don’t “get” their message, it’s just as well; they weren’t talking to you anyway.
The current iteration of their long-standing and highly praised “Just Do It” campaign is no exception. For the last two days, Mueller’s Russia investigation and Supreme Court nominee hearings have taken a back seat on most people’s social media feeds as everyone has felt the need to weigh in on Nike’s latest “Just Do It” campaign, which features polarizing ex-NFL player Colin Kaepernick.
The ex-San Francisco 49ers quarterback-turned-social-justice-warrior Kaepernick has become a lightning rod for controversy after his quiet protest in which he took a knee during each pregame national anthem to bring attention to the issue of police brutality and the disproportionate and seemingly unchecked victimization of African-Americans at the hands of police.
Nike said the ad will be shown Thursday when the NFL season kicks off with the Atlanta Falcons taking on the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. It also will air during other sporting events such as the U.S. Open, Major League Baseball games, and college football.
Whether the majority of Americans agree or not with the players’ right to protest by taking a knee depends on who you ask, as polls vary quite widely across segments of the population. But what Nike is concerned about and, no doubt, can accurately predict, is how its core consumers will respond.
Psychologists care about human behavior; marketers care about consumer behavior; Nike marketers care about their consumers’ behavior.
If you’re not the core customer for their product or the target audience for their messaging then your outrage not only doesn’t much matter but, as in the case of the president, it earns them far more attention, more press, free promotion and most importantly, sales.
Even folks posting photos and videos of them burning their already paid-for Nikes is great free public relations. Some estimates report that Nike has already earned over $43 million in buzz in the first 24 hours following the announcement of the new creative, and the campaign has yet to officially launch.
This is not Nike’s first time embracing a controversial figure, so they do have history from which to operate. After Kobe Bryant and Tiger Woods both faced public scorn for highly publicized scandals, Nike was one of the few sponsors that did not cut ties with either athlete.
Eventually, Nike released moving, thought-provoking ads providing reflective, inspirational and relatable messaging (along with mesmerizing, tight-framed, black-and-white images in each campaign) to reintroduce each athlete and align their journey with Nike’s mantra.
While there were those who wondered aloud why Nike would align themselves with an accused rapist or a disgraced philanderer, their target audience valued both the messaging and the individuals’ athleticism and embraced the brand’s values.
While the market may have flinched on the first day following news of Nike’s latest campaign featuring Kaepernick, it has already begun rebounding, increasing while the rest of the market decreased.
While some individuals and even some institutions may boycott the brand over its current move, the core Nike consumer — individuals who make up many of these institutions and those who are what many marketers call “heavy users” — will likely not go anywhere.
Those outside the target audience might buy a new pair of sneakers each year; maybe a couple if they are avid runners or live an active lifestyle. Nike’s core customers and heavy users likely own and regularly purchase dozens of sneakers and a good deal of sportswear and equipment each year.
The brand also has an avid following around the world, with international sales fueling the majority of their recent growth and offsetting sluggish U.S. sales. International markets are not likely to be affected negatively by Nike’s new campaign; in fact, the reaction will likely be overwhelmingly supportive.
Nike has never been afraid to take a stand and always does so with its core customer in mind. Other brands like Ford and Levi’s have already followed suit, with messaging and campaigns in support of the NFL protest and gun control, respectively.
In today’s marketplace, taking a stand on social issues is no longer a choice; it has become inevitable. Consumers want to do business with brands that are aligned with their values. Social media and the 24-hour news cycle makes it easy and necessary to communicate them.
Still, in a less-than-24-hour window, one group estimates Nike already received more than $43 million worth of media exposure, much of that positive.
“Right now what this means is they are winning the battle from the public relations side,” Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group, which measured the branding exposure for Nike’s new campaign, told CNBC.
Analysts also argued that Nike’s target audience of consumers stretches far outside of the U.S. and that many shoppers globally won’t be paying much attention to the Kaepernick tie-up. Further, the retailer is aiming to connect with a younger generation that puts more thought into what their favorite brands stand for before they make purchases.
“Most people aren’t looking to make political decisions with their sneaker purchases,” Nomura analyst Simeon Siegel said. “But whenever a brand attaches its logo to someone else’s face, they are making a calculated cost benefit analysis that is something that has been core to Nike’s DNA.”
Levi’s President and CEO Chip Bergh said it well: “While taking a stand can be unpopular with some, doing nothing is no longer an option.”
Business has never been for the faint of heart, but it seems that today more than ever, businesses and brands must embrace Nike’s mantra and “Just Do It.”
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