Woodbine, Onaje Ph.D. — Black Gods of the Asphalt Part Two

The transcendent experience of street basketball is the topic of two conversations with Onaje X. O. Woodbine, author of “Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball.” Woodbine grew up in the inner-city of Roxbury, Massachusetts, became a skilled street basketball player and attended Yale University on a basketball scholarship. After two years as a star player on the Yale team, he chose a different life path and quit.

After graduating from Yale, Woodbine earned his Ph.D. in religious studies from Boston University. His book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt” presents a social-anthropological view of this inner-city sport where coaches often assume the role of father, mentor and friend. He contrasts the lessons learned on the street basketball courts, with those learned at the predominantly white basketball courts and locker rooms of Yale University.

Onaje Woodbine visited with Radio Curious by phone on August 13, 2016, from his home in Andover, Massachusetts. In part one we discussed his experiences growing up and playing on the basketball courts in the inner city and how that differend from the Ivy League schools he later went to. In part two, we began our conversation when I asked him to explain the ethnographic research and methods he used in making his book, “Black Gods of the Asphalt.”

The book Dr. Onaje Woodbine recommends is “Jesus and the Disinherited” by Howard Thurman.

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Cantu, Dr. Robert — Concussions: The Impact of Sports On Kids’ Brains

Concussion injuries to our children is the topic of this edition of Radio Curious as we visit with Dr. Robert Cantu, the author of “Concussions and Our Kids”.  Dr. Cantu’s medical career centers on neurosurgery and sports medicine and is dedicated to addressing the concussion crisis through research, treatment, education and prevention.

Dr. Cantu writes that the genetic inheritance of a child begins to control his or her athletic skills at about age 14.  This is similar to the evolutionary influence that compels young teenagers to set a mark and establish status and belonging within their band or tribe, often through athletic prowess.  In the evolutionary history of our species this was necessary for basic survival.  Now in the 21st century, many of our children do the same thing, many times with strong family support, yet at the same time, subjecting themselves to radical injury.  Dr. Cantu and I spoke by phone from his office near Boston, Massachusetts, on September 24, 2012.  I began by asking him to comment on his analysis.

The book Dr. Robert Cantu recommends, which was also made into a movie is “Head Games,” by Chris Nowinski.

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