They both reek of the abuse they’ve suffered. I can tell because I reek of the abuse I’ve suffered.

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Photo: Hotboxin’ With My Mike Tyson

When I entered the corporate world in my first full-time role, I felt terrified.

I was pumping a Black entertainment brand. Inside the company skyscraper, men strutted in the latest Jordans and designer hoodies or Italian suits. Everyone, from the assistants to the creative directors, had a prominent social media following. Some had summer houses, others big city dreams.

Fortunately, I had a mentor. He had impressed me early on with his sharpness. He dressed sharp, sure, and could stand out even among the bespoke men marching in that cool, crystal office. …


Whether alumni or walking the halls of elite schools today, we recognize a tough shared experience

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Photo: Epicurean

I laughed when I saw myself in the alumni brochure for The Collegiate School For Boys. I didn’t know why its editors included me. I didn’t graduate on time; I wasn’t a millionaire. But I knew why the faculty felt they had to print my whiskey-inflamed mug, big lips, and nostrils in the brochure’s glossy pages. I smiled at the gray bristles on my head; look at this old-ass man in the alum newsletter.

When a very-White place wants to seem less very-White, especially in 2020, the powers that be advertise your Black face and airbrush away the pain etched into you. They erase the lines, but not the lineage; as I stared at the image looking back at me, I couldn’t see the person I am now. …


Kyrie’s prophecy, and the clairvoyant Netflix film that gave us key clues to consider

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“You think these fools, these rich white dudes gon’ let the sexiest sport fall to the wayside? I mean, football is fun, but it don’t sell sneakers. You can’t even see the players half the time. Baseball…is a whole lot of tradition, but in order to move merch and inspire rap lyrics, they need your services. Too much money at stake.”

Ray Burke in High Flying Bird

Cowards will call this labor stoppage a boycott because people were killed in Wisconsin amid civil and racial unrest. The word “boycott” evokes sanitized Civil Rights memories we were taught in grade school, and that Hollywood’s since morphed into a million soft-focus biopics. But that word is a lie. …


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Aparna, from Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking” has sparked discussions about what makes a ‘proper’ bride.

How filmmaker Smriti Mundhra made the leap from indie doc phenom to reality buzz royalty

I’ve had the good luck of meeting Smriti Mundhra several times in person. The only way to describe that experience is lucky because the California-native Desi filmmaker is both inspiring and inspired. As creator and producer of Indian Matchmaking, she has managed to take the prickly subjects of love, relationships, race, feminism, and human rights and make them into a fun digestible pop culture snack for a hungry (if fickle) audience on Netflix. By choosing to lift the veil on intimate parts of her culture, Mundhra has entered the social media gauntlet and weathered the torrent of responses to her honest and dedicated work. …


New York basketball changed forever when the rims came down

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Original art by Antonio Losada (Twitter)

For someone who loves the sport so much, I’ve never been a great basketball player. I used to admire anyone who could dribble, pass, and shoot. Like Stephon Marbury. He was a better version of me in my mind. But when I got to my twenties, I gave up the fantasy of having his natural talent.

I realized I wasn’t going to walk out on the court and dunk with two hands or throw a no-look pass mid-air. The NBA doesn’t need 5'10 players with shaky handles and smoker’s lungs. I’ve imagined and tried his moves but won’t fool myself into an injury using them. Still, basketball is a sanctuary for New York kids who wanted to be “Starbury.” …


I’m still learning what’s next

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Photo: Plume Creative/Getty Images

I’m afraid to be lonely, yet I’ve never been alone.

I have a problem being monogamous. “Mono” means one. As an only child, I could not stand being “one” all the time. It didn’t seem a fair choice.

So I’ve always looked to pair. I’ve been in a coupled state as long as I can remember; it’s a core desire. For most of my life, I didn’t know how to feel good and valid without being part of a couple — but I also haven’t limited myself to being in a traditional relationship. …


Walking through the world becomes even more fraught

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A man in a face mask at a station of the Moscow Underground on March 16, 2020. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/Getty Images

I’m an escapist. For decades, I smoked to avoid feeling too much. But with America in its darkest days due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no relief from the emotions that envelop me. Everyday scenes take on a grotesque vividity. A package on my doorstep that used to be harmless is now a phantom enemy. Exchanging money with a supermarket cashier is a slow tragedy; the swooping crescent around a jogging stranger, an awkward comedy. A global health crisis has thrust us into a movie with no plot, hero, or end.

These floods of intensity give me an advantage, though. I know how to fight a stealthy adversary. I’m at home in the gravity of each scene. When the CDC announced that everyone should wear masks to stop the spread of the coronavirus, I switched to battle mode. Yet again, the seemingly harmless and simple guideline ignores the dark history of Black and Brown folks being targets of racial profiling, masked or unmasked. It neglects the unspoken truth that Americans see throngs of faceless Black people as threats. When Trump suggests that a bandana also functions as a cover, he’s describing his White utopia. I live in Harlem, New York, where constant Black voices and faces outside shape the curve of shadows and sun. The police tag boys in bandanas on routine stops. For people like me, martial law’s long been in play. …


A streaming channel family lifted me out of a dark place

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Photo: Bon Appétit

In the morning, I wake up to drink tea with my grandmother. She parks at the dining room table, in her hoodie, noting the neighbors’ routines. ‘They let the little dog out’ or ‘the kids shot on the basket.’ Usually, she gives longer reports.

Since the plague began, we’ve sat in silence. Grandma punctuates statements with laughter but lately, she’s stone still. Where she once colored words with giggles, now I hear gray. Her sentences go “The people they” something, something.

“The people dem over there don’t know what crab look like.” Giggles toppling syllables.

“The people they sold me some oranges, Andrew. Those oranges too sour for me.” Giggles connecting pauses. …


Loss is loss, even against an unprecedented backdrop

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Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Don’t cry before the ambulance comes. You will need to report the time of death to the hospice nurse on the phone. 10:15 a.m. The first nurse who came to install the bed for convalescent patients left one hour ago.

You hold more than one phone and at least two hearts. His body rests upstairs from the work it has done, completing the American dream. His body, from Spanish Town, Jamaica, lies still. His body, which you will later name “a vessel,” knowing that, to your mother, it is more.

The first EMT asks about symptoms. …


Three millennial plot lines that seem way too familiar right now

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Cate Blanchett in 2011’s “Contagion.”

“Ayo, cuz, this shit like a movie.”

That’s what my cousin said to me after I took the 40-minute road trip to Queens. I came to support my mom while her husband fights cancer. The battle didn’t look good.

The last week has been Hell. On the New York highway, black and yellow LED signs read: Stay home. Stop the spread. Flatten the curve. Fifth Avenue whistled lonely notes from empty park benches. Midtown streets looked like an eternal 4 a.m.

In the group chat, my cousin grew suspicious first: “Feel like they not telling us something. …

About

Andrew Ricketts

I’m a Caribbean and American writer from New York. My stories are about coming-of-age, learning how to relate, and family. It’s a living, breathing memoir.

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