Los Angeles is literally awash with grief

February 24, 2020, 4:21 PM UTC

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public memorial service celebrating the lives of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna is set for today at 1pm Eastern Time at the Staples Center in downtown L.A. Even the calendar pays tribute — Feb. 24 is a date which reflects the basketball jersey numbers worn by Bryant (No. 24) and his daughter (No. 2).

More than 80,000 people applied via a lottery for some 20,000 spots. It promises to be a high profile yet somber affair, and proceeds will benefit Bryant’s Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation.

While fans have been struggling with Bryant’s tragic loss along with his daughter and seven other people in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, Los Angeles itself has been literally awash in grief.

The Lakers legend loomed large in life, but now mural artists are expressing the city’s complex feelings on walls, under bypasses, and in spontaneous installations. 

“Many of the murals memorializing Kobe document milestone moments from his career,” says Walter Thompson-Hernández, who covered the phenomenon for the New York Times. But plenty explore the profound shock of losing a doting father and a child that the city had grown to love.“You can see their images in Long Beach, in Artesia, in Downtown Los Angeles, and in Venice Beach,” he says. “A complicated figure during his playing days, Kobe has ignited a surge of emotion in death. The city’s walls have never spoken so loudly.”

Even non-traditional artists are finding a way to share their grief.

At the memorial today will be Fletcher Collins, a casketmaker from Elizabethtown, N.C., who created a customized tribute memorial casket for the Lakers legend. He and a couple of friends drove it across the country in a rented van, so it might sit in tribute in front of the Staples Center. The memorial casket is a faithful recreation of the Center’s hardwood court and includes an image of the Los Angeles skyline. “I tried to capture everything about him,” said Collins, who also is an assistant pastor, told the Fayetteville Observer.

Earlier this month, Vanessa Bryant, Gianna’s mother and Kobe’s wife, requested that memorial items left at the Staples Center be sent to the family, hinting at an enormous curatorial job yet to come.

“We will catalog and box up all the non-perishable items like T-shirts, letters, basketballs, other toys, stuffed animals, and we’re going to put them in containers and ship them to Vanessa Bryant and the family,” Staples Center president Lee Zeidman told CNN. Flowers and other perishable items will be composted for use around L.A. Live, the city’s downtown entertainment complex.

While the details of the memorial are still under wraps, the lives of the other people lost in the accident will also be remembered. The MambaOnThree fund was created to honor the memories of Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan, and is still accepting donations for their families. 

For today, grief is on the program.

Ellen McGirt

On Point

The NAACP Image Awards turned 51 For anyone who was looking for a chance to celebrate the art, artists, authors, writers, and directors who had been overlooked in other award venues, the show did not disappoint. Lizzo won entertainer of the year, Just Mercywon Outstanding Motion Picture, Dolemite, won for Outstanding Independent Motion Picture, and Lupita Nyong’o won Outstanding Actress for Us. But taken as a whole, the nominees are uniformly thrilling. (While Blackishsimply cannot lose, I cheered for my own guilty pleasure, Greenleaf.)The entire nominee and winner list below.
NAACP Image Awards

Like most tech companies, Tesla addresses racism complaints in private arbitration After DeWitt Lambert, an electrician with Tesla, complained of harassment in the workplace, specifically racial slurs including the n-word, he ended in arbitration. The arbitrator dismissed his complaint, which included video evidence, because the offensive words were "consistent with lyrics and images commonly found in rap songs.” Now arbitration itself is under fire. "In many cases, it's a get-out-of-jail-free card for companies," Oakland civil rights lawyer Bryan Schwartz tells Protocol. Three racism complaints have been filed against Tesla since 2017, the arbitration process keeps details of their allegations from both co-workers and the public at large.

Wells Fargo ends forced arbitration for sexual harassment claims Advocates for women are hoping that the recent move will encourage other financial institutions to follow suit. But eight out of nine financial firms contacted by Financial Planning refused to respond or declined to comment when asked about their use of arbitration. Wealth manager Rachel Robasciotti,co-founder of the nonprofit Force the Issue, which persuades large companies to drop arbitration for sexual harassment claims, says the Wells Fargo decision was good news. Force the Issue says they’ve persuaded some 90 firms to drop the clauses or to publicly disavow their use.
Financial Planning

On Background

There are two sign languages in America Turns out codeswitching happens even among Black deaf signers. There is a Black ASL. “I’m always told by deaf African Americans, ‘I am black first; then I’m deaf,’” says Felecia Redd, a Black interpreter. “White deaf people are deaf first and then white.” A new 30-minute documentary, “Signing Black in America,” explores how Black ASL evolved, a relic of a time when Black deaf people who have been historically marginalized by both race and hearing loss. The film is the 14th in a series produced by North Carolina State University’s Language & Life Project, which explores the linguistic diversity of the United States. (Thanks to the great Julie Felner for flagging.)
Washington Post

The tarot cards of tech Thanks to also great Vivianne Castillo for flagging this remarkable design tool, which aims to help designers and producers of all stripes consider more carefully the unintended consequences of their work. Each card asks a question that helps creators think through who might be hurt by their work and whose perspective needs to be included in their designs and processes. Instead of “move fast and break things,” take a moment to “slow down and ask the right questions.”
Artefact Group

The trauma of genocide is alive in our genes It’s called epigenetic inheritance, and there is real scientific evidence that systemic trauma causes genetic differences in descendants of the victims. Studies from holocaust survivors, only one of many events, is a centerpiece of the research. “The gene changes in the children could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parents,” says one researcher. Another explains that the epigenetics helps explain the many health disparities found among Native American people, which include endocrine and immune system disorders. “The persistence of stress associated with discrimination and historical trauma converges to add immeasurably to these challenges,” says another. 

Tamara El-Waylly produces raceAhead and manages the op-ed program.


"Tonight is not really about me, because the purpose is bigger than me, right? It’s not bigger than us together, but it’s bigger than me because my part is a very small part of the work that is being done in this world and the work that is yet to be done... If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that we can only fix this world together. We can’t do it divided. I can’t emphasize that enough. We can’t let the de-sensitivity seep in. The ‘If it’s your problem, it’s not mine.’ ‘It’s a woman’s problem.’ ‘It’s a black people problem.’ ‘It’s a poor people problem.’” I mean how many of us in this room have colleagues and partners and friends from other races, sexes, religions… They want to break bread with you right? They like you? Well then, this is their problem, too. So while we’re marching, protesting, and posting about the Michael Brown Jrs. and the Atatiana Jeffersons of this world, tell your friends to pull up.”

Rihanna, after receiving the President’s Award at the 51st Annual NAACP Image Awards

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