The most important thing you need to know about this article by CNN (‘Black Thanksgiving’ commences in L.A. this weekend) is that it is written by David Aldridge.
Who is David Aldridge you maybe asking.
He is the gentlemen in the above picture. What do you notice about him? He is black. When I started getting emails about this, I assumed incorrectly this a white person had writing the story. Under that assumption, I wonder why would someone intentional try to stir up controversy, but since it is Aldridge (who I have a lot of respect for) I decided to take a little deeper look at the article. Here are some of the highlights.
But for most of the people who descend into town — this year it’s Los Angeles, with its still sparkling Staples Center and the surrounding “L.A. Live” area — it’s an opportunity to go wild (sometimes a little too wild, as happened in Las Vegas a few years ago) and get together.
Other folks have Tweetups. Black people have All-Star Weekend, or ASW. It’s a national holiday, sort of.
ASW is the only time of the year that people call me. I don’t say that to be maudlin, ’cause most of the time, I don’t want people to call me. (Dirty little secret: I don’t really like talking on the phone.) But they come out of the woodwork this time of year, because NBA players are royalty in Black America, and everyone wants to be near them. The old saying is that ballers want to be rappers, and rappers want to be ballers. That’s really, really true.
People will drive for eight hours, fly across the country, take a stagecoach, whatever it takes. Most people who come to ASW, you see, have no tickets for anything. They certainly have no tickets for the game or the dunk contest or three-point shooting contest. (The NBA doles out most of the seats to their corporate partners and those partners’ families and friends).
The hope is to get into the numerous, almost unending parties that promulgate the weekend. They’re like our solar system. The parties furthest from the orbit of actual NBA players are usually the cheapest and easiest to get into, no more difficult than a garden variety Friday night at your local hip-hop spot.
Then there are parties “sponsored” or “hosted” by an All-Star (Allen Iverson was famous for these), where there’s a chance the actual player will show up at some point. If they do, it’s usually late in the evening, after they’ve gone to the more swank parties. They’re almost always surrounded by security and quickly wind up in the VIP section, walled off from their adoring fans. (Although, truth be told, occasionally a young, attractive woman may, somehow, be let inside the velvet ropes.)
Michael Wilbon of ESPN Pardon the Interruption is the person that dubbed ASW, Black Thanksgiving. He has said it on more than one occasion and no one has really said anything about it. The fact that it appeared on CNN, is what has caused a bit of a ruckus.
My only real issue with the assessment is that as someone who has been to a couple of All-Star weekends, it isn’t just black people going HAM.
I think a better term is that ASW is “Hip Hop’s Thanksgiving”, granted the hip hop culture is driven by young black people, but as we know that culture crosses over to many races, so it is a little short sighted to put it in a small window of just blacks.
In the end nothing that Aldridge said is incorrect, just we are in an ultra sensitive society these days, where it doesn’t matter what you are saying is true, if it slightly offends someone it becomes a big deal.
The twitter model hoping to bag Dwight Howard this weekend could care less.