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The Zimmerman Trial

Opening statements and witness testimony in the trial of George Zimmerman got underway Monday morning.  And, as many of you noticed, I was anchoring coverage of the trial on HLN.

The Zimmerman trial is not just a newsworthy event.  It’s an important trial that forces us to examine difficult issues of race, profiling, fairness, and stand your ground laws.  I’m so pleased and grateful that the opportunity to contribute to HLN’s trial coverage presented itself.  And, I’m especially grateful to be contributing at a network and at a company (Turner) where I’ve already spent so much time.  I’m excited to once again be working with old friends and colleagues I’ve respected for years and who are some of the best in the business.

As always, thank you for your support and interest.  I’ll be seeing you throughout the trial.

T. J.

My hoop dreams

As soon as the final buzzer sounded at Monday night’s NCAA championship game, a slew of underclassmen started declaring for the NBA draft.  Sophomore Cody Zeller of Indiana and his teammate, junior Victor Oladipo, are gone.  Freshman Ben McLemore of Kansas, sophomore Michael Carter-Williams of Syracuse, junior Phil Pressey of Missouri are leaving.  Louisville junior guard Russ Smith is headed to the NBA, if you believe his dad.  Many expect Michigan sophomore guard Trey Burke to declare.  And, freshman Ricky Ledo of Providence has declared for the NBA draft even though he never played a game in college.  He was academically ineligible.

Most of these guys are expected to be lottery picks and make big money in their first NBA contacts.  While it may make sense for a few elite players to pursue the NBA, their high-profile stories can take away from the idea that a college education is important, even for athletes.  (The bench player who graduates with a degree in biochemistry and goes on to work as a researcher won’t get as much press coverage.)

So, for your high school-aged son, nephew or neighbor who may have NBA dreams, give them this reality:  there are about 550,000 boys playing high school basketball in this country.  There are about 5,200 young men playing major college basketball.  There are about 450 players in the NBA.  Do the math.  If they can’t handle that equation, they clearly need to stay in school.

Please, don’t wait

I got word at 2:30 a.m. that a family member had passed away.  We were the same age.  This is someone I had spent a lot of time with when we were growing up, but I hadn’t talked to him in years.   As is often the case, we had fallen out of touch as our lives and careers took us away from home and in different directions.
A death in the family is always hard.  But it’s harder when you’re left with a feeling that you didn’t do or say what you could have when you had the chance.  Sometimes, it’s as simple as calling to say, “how are you doing?”  I didn’t, and now, I’ll never get the chance.
I beg you: don’t wait.  Don’t wait to call to check on a friend.  Don’t wait to tell someone how you feel about them.  Don’t wait to call a family member you haven’t talked to in a while.  Don’t wait to tell someone ‘thank you.’  Don’t wait to forgive. Don’t wait to say you’re sorry.
Don’t wait.  You may never get the chance.

One Hour

I was invited to be a guest this past Sunday on WBLS Radio’s “Open Line”, one of the most popular and relevant talk shows in the country.  They’ve been setting a standard for years for the type of conversations needed in our community.  I am so grateful to Bob Pickett, Bob Slade, and Brother Mtume for having me on but also for leading the way.  They show us how important it is for us to have as many outlets as possible for our voices to be heard.

And, in the spirit of shows like “Open Line,” we launched “Don’t Sleep.”  Your support for “Don’t Sleep” since we launched October 1st has been incredible.  The show is meant to spark conversation and action in our community, and it has done just that.

We’ve received so many comment and so much feedback about our show.  Without question, the #1 comment has been that “Don’t Sleep” is too short!  Viewer felt we needed more time to not only discuss issues but find solutions.  I suppose we’ve been doing something right if people have overwhelmingly and consistently been saying that the show should be extended from a half hour to an hour.  So, starting this week, “Don’t Sleep” will do just that.  We will now have an hour-long format to educate, empower, and engage.  This will allow us more time to delve deeper into topics and determine how we can all, in our own way, be agents of change.

As part of being extended to an hour, the show will move to Wednesday nights at 11 p.m.  This will allow us to do on-location reporting from cities and communities across the country.

Thank you so much for your continued support and positive feedback.  We hope we can continue to count on it as we continue to grow “Don’t Sleep” and our audience and make the show appointment viewing and must-see TV!

As always, you can go to bed now but don’t sleep … we’ll see you on Wednesday night.

T. J.

Getting back to work

Because of Hurricane Sandy, “Don’t Sleep” did not tape on Monday and Tuesday.  Like so many others in the NY area, members of our staff and crew were unable to get out and about the past few days.  For the most part, our “Don’t Sleep” family made it through the storm largely unscathed.  Given the loss of life and property because of the storm, we are truly blessed.

Thanks to those of you who checked on me the past several days.  I assure you I was fine, except for the dangling crane right outside my window that continues to taunt me and the entire neighborhood.

We are back in our office today and preparing to get a new episode of “Don’t Sleep” on the air for you today.  I’m excited to welcome RZA, Fat Joe, and Katrina Peirson to the show today.  I’ll see you soon!

T. J.

Last night’s show

In a word: damn.

I was so excited about last night’s episode of “Don’t Sleep.”  We were able to speak about the progress black women are making.  And, it was the first show that featured mostly women.  We had Issa Rae doing her commentary.  And, on the panel discussion, we had Vivica A. Fox and the “Conservative Black Chick” Crystal Wright.

I relished the opportunity to showcase two smart, accomplished, beautiful, strong black women on the panel.  But, damn.  The conversation immediately spiraled into a war of words and theatrics.  A passionate discussion on issues between two strong black women is one thing, and it’s something I welcome on “Don’t Sleep”, but last night’s back-and-forth became personal and vitriolic.  Damn.

I never want “Don’t Sleep” to be a platform to perpetuate the negative stereotypes about black people, especially black women.  We must do better.  Yes, things happen.  Yes, people get passionate, and there’s an unpredictable nature to doing a panel discussion on a TV show.  I know Vivica and Crystal are talented, smart black women. They had an opportunity to show the best of what black women have to offer but instead showed what many expect them to be.


T. J.

Help wanted! (Thursday update)

Clearly, I need to hire somebody to write for me on this website.  I have been woefully neglecting it.

Spent some time this morning hanging with Sway at his studio.  We had a good chat on his Shade 45 radio show.  And, I was nearly accosted by his female sidekick.  But, it’s all good.

At the office today, I listened to a recording purportedly of a stop-and-frisk incident involving an inner city teenager in New York.  I got chills listening to it.  We will be breaking down what we hear in that audio recording and taking a look at the stop-and-frisk policy tonight.

And, y’all know Malik Yoba, right?  Every heard of a guy named Anthony Hamilton?  And, you read Charles Blow at the NY Times, don’t you?  All three of these accomplished brothers will be on tonight’s episode of “Don’t Sleep.”

T. J.