Abdurraqib closed out this year's community arts celebration with the
stirring reading followed by an engaging conversation with Louis Moore, professor of history and author,
whose areas of expertise include African American history, sports
history and gender history.
During the virtual lecture event, Abdurraqib told audience members he
wanted to read something new he had written, "In part because Dr.
Moore writes so generously and thoughtfully about sports and Black athletes."
And with that, Abdurraqib started the narrative journey for the
audience members, at first talking about the NBA legend Jordan and his
baldness that made him cool, but then transitioning to the 1985 NBA
Slam Dunk Contest where Jordan wasn't yet bald, but did make an
impression with a dunk where he took off from the free throw line,
seemingly suspended in air.
Jordan never was as cool as he was after that dunk, Abdurraqib said:
"Even now, I wish to touch the hem of that kind of cool."
Abdurraqib then took everyone through a world where he lovingly
recalled watching his father, "a man who enjoyed a meal,"
look at his plate in anticipation of what he was going to enjoy first.
And then he pondered aging through his father and grandfather – both
bald in their later years – and through watching the facial changes in
current NBA star James, who is about Abdurraqib's age, and through his
own "gray stars poking through in the black solar system."
His wide-ranging conversation with Moore covered basketball past and
present, the best coming of age movies for Black kids and collecting
records – and the feeling of flipping through a stack of records and
seeing the thing you wanted.