When we know better, we do better.

When I set out to talk about the coverage of the NDHSAA state basketball tournament, it was to shed light on the inequality of our female athletes. It was to show that our girls deserve equal footing on whatever venture that they choose to pursue. It was to honor The Huskies, The Patriots, The Eagles, The Demons, The Rough Riders, The Mustangs, The Majettes, and The Sabers.

The reality is that these athletes are the leaders of their community. These athletes have little girls who will one day pick up a basketball because of them, which is a beautiful thing that helps grow the sport. Why would anyone want to stand in the way of that?

But I feel as though the focus has shifted a little, and I don’t want to lose focus of the seminal point here.

Whatever happens for the boys’ tournament, happens to the girls’ tournament. Equality.

– If the boys are televised, then girls should be as well.

– If the boys have a chance at the main court one year, then the girls should have a chance at the main court the following year.

– It is about equality, pure and simple.

I’ve had so many awesome conversations this past weekend. I’ve spoken to Dom Izzo, I’ve spoken to the NDHSAA Board of Directors, I’ve spoken to countless members of the basketball community and media. The crazy thing there are things we can all agree on:

– When the media rights contract was signed 4-5 years ago, streaming was not a consideration, it was a relatively new technology.

– The contract is for coverage of the girls’ and boys’ semifinal and final rounds of the tournament (both to be covered equally). WDAY has exclusive rights to the entire tournament, so any additional coverage by WDAY goes above and beyond the contract.

I’m order for WDAY to pay for the above and beyond service, someone has to pay for it.

– Since the new technologies are tried and tested, it is imperative that the contract is renegotiated to ensure equal coverage. I believe that happens next year.

So there’s a start, we can agree on those things, but, realistically, it is simply not good enough. We need change.

There is enough fault to go around. We can play the blame game all we want, but here are the facts:

– Shame on the parents (myself included) for accepting the status quo and not challenging companies and entities who play into these inequalities; this has been going on for a while and we know better!

– Shame on advertisers for throwing money at entities and organizations and not educating themselves on the workings of equality in production. They know better.

– Shame on the media for not asking the hard questions and uncovering the truth about what was happening. You know better.

– Shame on the NDHSAA for not protecting our female athletes, which is one of the sole purposes of your organization. You know better.

This is on all of us.

Let me be clear:

This is not about the streaming glitches,

This is not about viewership,

This is not about money,

This is not about me,

This is not about basketball

This is not about my beloved Huskies.

This is about access,

This is about equal protection.

This is about representation.

This is about equality.

We can fix this!






Equal Airtime For Women

Sexist and Discriminatory.
That is the only way to describe what is going on regarding forum communications and the North Dakota High School Activities Association’s State Basketball tournament.
Let me provide context as I understand it:
The boys’ quarterfinals are televised for free, and the girls’ quarterfinals will be streamed for a price. Do you mean to tell me that in 2022, we are still under the guise that male sports sell tickets and women sports do not? Do we still have entities looking to optimize the mighty dollar instead of furthering the sport for both males and females? We still believe that males deserve visibility and females don’t?
That is a crying shame.
It is bad enough that you barely report on local prep sports anymore, but it is even worse to realize that you have formulated your coverage based upon gender.
It is shameful,
It is disgusting,
And it needs to change. Now!
I am calling on every female, every parent of daughters, every true sports fan, and every human, and advertising companies. being to demand that this be changed immediately, and a statement of apology issued to all North Dakota female athletes.
Shame on the Forum Communications company for perpetuating female athletes’ stereotypes and shame on the NDHSAA for not demanding better for our female athletes. Thirty-two teams qualified for the state basketball tournament; twenty-eight of the thirty-two will appear on Television and get the recognition they deserve for making it. Let’s flip the calendar to 2022.

I, too, teach America.

I am the melanated educator.
They send me to teach in schools
With slaveholder’s names,
But I work,
Shape futures,
And strengthen communities.

I’ll be leading
When evaluations come.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“You can’t teach that,”

They’ll see how rich my history is
And be ashamed—

I, too, am History.

-Dr. David Woods

Black Like Me.

I had to have a conversation with one of my children about blackness. If you don’t know, black parents need to have many discussions about blackness because, as black children grow older, they start to realize that they are not quite like the others.
They take more pictures,
navigate differently than their peers,
and often, their skin color becomes more evident.
Just then, something is said about anon-black person that makes it clear that there is a difference between black and non-black. It is so commonly stated that people don’t realize what it actually means. However, it has become a common saying for both blacks and non-blacks alike. It is something that even I had said as a youth. The quote:
“…that kid thinks he is black.”
To understand the issue with this statement, we have to question what people think it means to be black. When someone says it:
Are they saying that the kid is articulate or inarticulate?
Are they saying that the kid is refined or “ghetto”?
Are they saying that the kid has swag or is a nerd?
Are they saying the kid is a model citizen or a low-level gangster?
Anytime I have heard this saying, it is being used with a negative connotation, which, for some odd reason, carries a coolness factor to it. So when I am explaining the intricacies of this statement with my child, I start by also explaining a different saying that I received from a friend.
Being black is not monolithic.
We have to be careful about how our children are speaking about blackness — all of us. We need children to know that words are powerful, and the origins of some of the words they use may continue a stereotype that is meant to oppress. When someone says, “That white kid thinks that he is black,” they are saying that the Caucasian kid is exhibiting some characteristics that may go against societal norms. They are not saying that the Caucasian kid is speaking articulately or dressed appropriately. For the user, blackness is viewed as inarticulation, under-education, aggressiveness, and loudness — which is another reason why representation is so important.
Look, I get it. Kids will be kids; they will say and do things based on their environment — and that is not saying that everything that comes out of kids’ mouths comes directly and only from the home. But it is saying that their underdeveloped brains interpret whatever they are exposed to, so all forms of media play a crucial part in their overall development.

I am not any of those stereotypes that people may see in movies or on social media. So it is shocking to people they really get to know me
(correction: I can fulfill some of those stereotypes when pushed, but I am a work in progress —- I enjoy being multi-faceted).
It is up to the collective, both black and non-black, to correct this. It is up to us to make sure that black culture is seen in a positive light.
I love being black. It comes with a style and a swagger that people want. Being black is cool.
Don’t deny it.
I bask in years the trials and tribulations of my ancestors. But I also bask in the successes as well.
I love our style, I love our music, I love our art, I love our versatility, and I love our ableness to adapt.
But most of all, I love our swag.
And you know what? Other people love it as well. So if other ethnicities want in, then so be it. But let’s do it in a way that does not box black culture into negative stereotypes. Let’s celebrate it instead.

And Therein Lies the Rub…

This blog post is in response to an opinion piece in the Fargo Forum: https://www.inforum.com/opinion/7139823-Nelson-They-myth-of-white-privilege?fbclid=IwAR1Iuv2jafAfvo40bUMZHgpqXEqjGpbZi6o4Z_M2v46j_r2xILmIehtdYXU

The ultimate mark of power may be its invisibility; the ultimate challenge, the exposition of its roots.

— Trouvillot

Have you ever been told that you are a credit to your race?

Have you ever been told that you are not like “them?”

Have you ever had to attain the highest degree of your profession to become an example of excellence in a homogeneous environment?

The words are meant as terms as endearment as compared to the norms. The action is intended as a way to assimilate to the norm.

The norm is essential; both what it is and what it means for each ethnic demographic both now and throughout history.

Minority groups did not set the norms until recently—it was either against the law or left them subject to bodily harm. What they did was find a way to navigate. The fortunate ones did this successfully, but most couldn’t or wouldn’t (and why should they have to)?

What was asked of them was to assimilate or die, which is still the case today.

If you’re are not a minority, you may never have to make that choice. And based on the part of the country from which you are raised, either option means the diminishing of one’s self to create anew.

So, if you haven’t had to make that choice, or you haven’t had those things said to you, then you cannot begin to understand what privilege is. White privilege does mean that you haven’t had issues in your life. It doesn’t diminish how hard you’ve worked for what you have. It does not mean that you actively participate in racism or bigotry. It does mean that when the norms were established, ethnic minorities did not have a seat at the table. I will give you a personal example:

I am probably the first generation in my family (on either side) that will have the opportunity to leave investments for my kids when I die. My wife is white, and I am black. The most interesting aspect of our relationship is how different our ancestor’s paths were.

When her ancestors traveled to America, mine were sharecroppers in Alabama — with no hope of acquiring land.

When her ancestors were settling in North Dakota, making them landowners — an investment that would pay dividends for centuries to come, mine were living life under Jim Crow.

While her ancestors were tilling the land with their blood, sweat, and tears, mine was part of the great migration, using their blood, sweat, and tears to escape poor economic conditions and persecution, just as her ancestors did 50 years previous.

The only way that my father was able to open doors for his family was to join the military in the ’60s, which gave us a fantastic future, but also brought its own set of racial challenges for him.

And there is me. I am a doctor, a politician, an educator, a proud father, and a devoted husband. On the surface, it is easy to say, “Look at you, you have pulled yourself up by the bootstraps and made something of yourself. But that would be missing the point entirely.

Every generation in my family had to start again. Learning norms, navigating to survive, facing oppression and marginalization, and overcoming to strive for uncertain success — things that some minorities have to do still today. For every one of me, there are thirty others that could not defy the odds.

With all of that said, I need to point out that my story and your story are only relative to ourselves and not the bigger picture, and therein lies the rub. You cannot base societal issues solely on individual stories. Both mine and your story are important because it provides some context. But your story does not prove that white privilege does not exist any more than mine proves that it does. We must start to criticize the status quo. Only then can we begin to improve our communities. If we continue to believe that each person is born with the same chance at success regardless of race or social-economic status, we are kidding ourselves.

Contact Lenses

As a society, we have gone too far proclaiming who is right and who is wrong. Instead, we should be considering the lens individuals use to interpret the world. Each one of us uses our lends to navigate life. Most likely, the lens used is shaped by the experiences in each of our lives: the successes, the failures, and the traumas. When we choose to place our values on those outlooks to determine what is right and what is wrong, we have conflict.

For example, I know people who think that Ronald Regan was a fabulous President. They can point to all of the wonderful things he did- all of the policies that he created (I mean, he did help bring down the Berlin Wall). But I know others that see his presidency from a different lens. They see policies that deteriorated the African American community, they see his participation in COINTELPRO which places him in a different light. Does that mean that either side is wrong? That may depend on your subjective definition of right…

The important thing about a lens is that is brings perspective – it is not just about ethnicity. A lens is shaped by an assortment of experiences: sexual preference, social economic status, trauma, gender, etc. This is why it is so important that we as a society understand that representation matters. Without it, we are creating an environment that promotes group-think.

Nobody ever wins with group-think. Think about how easy it is to govern when everybody has the same line of thinking.

We’ve started to place right and wrong based solely on people’s lenses.

We’ve stopped trying to look at events through the eyes of others.

We’ve stopped walking in other peoples shoes.

When a person has the job of managing and/or dealing with groups of people, the perspective of self as well as others becomes ever-so more important. When we educate, when we govern, when we serve, we are tasked with taking on the responsibility to look at situations from different lenses Although considering different perspectives is not an easy task (no matter how much education and training you have), it is imperative to the success of any entity.

History has shown us that we are a weaker society when we strive to be homogeneous. It leads to the closing of ideas, the stunting of progress, and the eventual collapse of civilization. Sure, it looks nice on its face, but when you dig a little deeper, you uncover a people who are stuck in time with ideas that won’t stand the test of time.

And that is sad.

2021: The Year of F*#% It.

If 2020 has taught me anything. It is to not take things for granted (hold on to your hats, this will be a bitch session). After the year that we have all had, we needed nothing more than to get on a plane and head to a destinition that we have dreamed of visiting — I am dead serious; I was about to snap!

The pandemic has brought with it social distancing; social distancing meant that we couldn not travel. We were unable to buy a plane ticket and catch the next flight out of the state with the same carelessness that we did before.

Maybe I miss the carelessness. I was a jet setter in my youth, dammit!

Before the pandemic, I would get an itch to travel, purchase a ticket, and take off — whether it was just my wife and I, or with our kids in tow — without even batting an eye.

Damn, I missed the carelessness. 

So now that group travel is an option, what have I done to fulfill my travel itch? Absolutely nothing. 

Jack. Shit.

Actually, I have been watching Travel Channel… and looking at travel pages at Barnes and Noble… and pinning places that I need to visit when able on Pinterest. But I have not make been able to make that jump; to buy that ticket; to spend that money.

That is, until now.


Examining positive things in your life along with practicing gratefulness is extremely necessary right now. I often look at all that I have and consider myself extremely fortunate to be where I am in my life. But in the end, we have to be realistic. It is becoming harder and harder to live a quality life under our current constraints. So it is also essential to recognize when you are swamped, or stressed, or keeping barely above water. And I am telling you that, like many of you, I am all of those things. So if 2020 showed that life is too short. 2021 will be the year that I say, “Fuck it!”

Yup, I said it. I said it because I have not said it enough. I have been worried about a lot of other things other than myself and my happiness. I have been making excuses as to why I have to hold back. But not anymore. I deserve to have those experiences that I have been working for.

My family has not seen the ocean. I mean, seriously, what the hell am I waiting for? Retirement? Savings? College for the kids? I literally have no idea. 

My wife and I were doing everything the right way financially when the unthinkable happened. A damn pandemic. Who in the hell prepares for a global pandemic. Some people were more stocked up and ready for a zombie apocalypse than they were for a global pandemic. So now that movement is an option, what am I going to do? I sure as hell am not going to let opportunity pass again, that’s for damn sure!

I am taking some of that saved up money and spending it on experiences for my family and me. I will travel, travel, travel with my wife, travel with kids, and travel with friends. I will spend money on things that I have wanted to have, see, and/or do. This is going to be a total reassessment of my priorities.

Fuck it.


I am not going to break the bank. If I do make it to retirement age, I will need something to live on. But again, we have learned in the past year that nothing is guaranteed.

More Than an Athlete

The impact of sport is heavily felt throughout our society. We look at sports as a way to get away from the pressures and stressors of the everyday grind. There is nothing better than sitting with a group of friends, whether in front of the television or live at a venue, and watching two teams (or individuals) compete for dominance – even if it is short-lived.
But to a lot of people, participation in sports is a ticket out of a negative situation. For these people, sports can bring them to places that they have never seen. It can help them meet people that they have never dreamed of. It can provide for a different status than what they are used to.

To a lot of people, sport is life, which means that to those same people, success in a particular sport means a better life.

I was raised in a neighborhood that knew this first-hand. We watched many people from our hood become very successful athletes. What does that mean? It means that they got a scholarship to play at an institution (whether the scholarship was for a significant sum or a little sum is irrelevant). We would watch these student-athletes come back from their institutions (some of which we had never heard of) for the summer and play or practice their summer – lightyears better than when they left, and marvel at their new-found physique, as well as their new-found fame. As youths, that is all we needed to know – sports were where you found your new life.

These were the people we looked up to. These were the people we wanted to emulate. Did these young college athletes know the influence they had over us? For the most part, no. But, nevertheless, they had us.

The point of this story is to provide context to what I am about say.

Sports figures still have that effect on people today. Our society still looks at those sports figures as leaders.

When Lebron James, a kid from Akron, Ohio, says something, people listen. He provides an avenue for people who do not have his platform; people who do not have his talent; people who do not have his influence. He understands that what he says matters to millions of people who look like him. It is disingenuous to tell a person who used his talents to get where he is at to “shut up and dribble.” It is asinine to tell a person who has his work ethic to tell him that he is “lucky to be where he is.” It is reckless to tell someone who demands his fair share of an industry that makes billions off of his name that he is “only playing a child’s game.”

Millions of people listen and watch what he says or does in sports, in business, in education, in politics, and strive to be just like him. Just as I listend and watched what local athletes said and did and strived to be just like them. I understand that you may not agree with the platforms that he stands for, but you should recognize his efforts for the greater good. What he is doing is not a new-found formula – especially in the black community.

Jim Brown does it.
Muhammad Ali did it.
Kareem Abdul Jabbar does it.
Venus and Serena Williams do it.
Arthur Ashe did it.
Jessie Owens did it.
Jackie Robinson did it.

The list could go on.

Sports provide a media for sports stars to speak for those who have no voice.

It is the same as it ever was. As long as you have a population feeling oppressed, you will find people that will look to its exceptional people to be their voice.

Basketball is a Spectator Sport — For Me

I debated writing this, but, in the end, I think it is more important to share. Don’t judge me!

I have come to a pivotal point in my life. I did not know that I would get to this moment, and it came on suddenly. In fact, it came on so sudden that it took me by surprise. What happened, you ask?

My oldest daughter told me that my help was no longer needed during her basketball games.

Back when I was a genius…

I was not surprised that I was told that my help was no longer needed; it was the manner in which it was done.

I will provide some context:

I have been my daughter’s coach since she was able to run. I have been her basketball coach since she could pick up a ball. Playing basketball and learning new skills has been a part of our relationship – a bonding point between us. Like other kids who have played on a team coached by a parent, we had our ups and downs. But, with my wife’s help, we had always hugged it out with some understanding. Now, she plays on the high school team, which puts me on the sidelines – and I am okay with that.
During her second game, she was defending a girl, who I believe was a weak ball-handler.

“Get up on her!” I yell.

And that is when she looked at me, while playing defense, and held her hand in a way that represented open lips, and she pressed her fingertips together – closing the “lips”.

Yup, that is correct; she motioned for me to shut up — all without getting out of defensive position.

Son. Of. A. Bitch! She shushed me.

I was so shocked by this! I went through a gamut of emotions:

What the…?!

How dare…?!

Ungrateful ass!

Just then, I turned and looked at my wife who was sitting next to me with a family friend – laughing. Not just any laugh; it was a full-out belly laugh. And then it hit me – I am no longer my daughter’s coach. It was time for my transformation from father/coach to father/mentor/fan.

I had once read the book, Changing the Game, which has a lot of useful information concerning the way parents can help and hurt their kids in youth sports. One thing I took away from the book is this question:

Do my actions reflect the values I want my child to embody.

Both on and off the court, I want my child to have the following:

  1. A love for the sport,
  2. A growth mindset,
  3. Confidence,
  4. The ability to make mistakes,
  5. The ability to learn from mistakes,
  6. The ability to correct mistakes,
  7. Independence.

By her gesture, she was claiming her independence. She was ultimately doing everything I asked of her since she was in third grade — I cannot be mad at that. It is effortless to yell out and coach from the sideline. But that is just it; I am no longer on the sideline – I am in the audience, which brings up another thing that this book has taught me—the importance of saying to her the words:

I Love Watching You Play.

She is such a fierce competitor.

As a youth athlete, I remember nothing that I disliked more than the post-game report — especially after a loss. I did not get it from my parents but from the parents of my peers. They all thought that they were being helpful, but mentally, it was not. My parents? I believe that they knew that there were more pressing issues in the world than how much I scored or how much playing time I received. They left the improvement up to me. If I was going to be good at anything, it would be intrinsically motivated (but don’t get that confused with not caring).

So, what did I gain from this experience?
I should count my blessings that I have a healthy daughter who loves to play basketball at a high level. Before each game, I should review my goals for her this year. Realistically, the goals I have for her have very little to do with a specific sport but life lessons that she can use for the future.

Let’s Go, Afro!

It’s 2021, It is Time to Start Controlling What You Can Control!

Today is Inauguration Day, which is a very joyous occasion for some people. But for others, there are feelings of fear and uncertainty running rampant in their minds. If you are worried about the future of this country, here are some immediate things you can do to help steer this country in a positive direction.

1. Read to a child every night.

2. Make sure that your local city council reflects the city’s demographic.

3. Make sure the local school board is representative of its’ students

4. Love your family.

5. Learn about and invest in generational wealth.

6. Work out.

7. Practice gratitude daily.

8. Be a mentor.

9. Build up your community. Know who your neighbors are.

10. Stop being a keyboard warrior.

Remember, this is a scary time for us all. We are all doing our best to deal with unprecedented historical events. Just remember, we are in this together.

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