Making History: KC Defender Brings Community Together with Historic Basketball Park Takeover

The park takeover was more reminiscent of a community program by the 1960’s Black Panther Party than an event hosted by a news outlet.
Shot by: JB Studio

The Breakdown — This weekend, The Defender hosted our first ever major community event. The event resulted in one of the biggest Basketball Park Takeovers in recent Kansas City history. In fact, the event was more reminiscent of a community program by the 1960’s Black Panther Party than an event hosted by a news outlet, and that’s precisely what we were hoping to achieve.

  • On Thursday we hosted a Kids Camp, on Friday we hosted the first major park run, and due to such a massive turnout at the park run (and popular demand) we held a 2nd park run on Saturday.

Why was this Basketball Park Run so important?

The event was far more than a basketball tournament. We did what no other news outlet in the country is currently doing – we engaged, created trust with and built relationship with 14-19 year old Black boys and men. We even had young brothers from Wyandotte, Kansas drive out to participate.

  • 14-19 year old Black boys/men are of the most racially targeted demographic in the country. We are violently targeted by police, we are forced into gang or drug activity for survival, we have had our Black men role models ripped from our communities and encaged as a part of a war on our communities.
  • Rarely, if ever, do we have safe places to simply experience “Black Boy Joy” with one another without needing to have our guard up. This weekend, with a total of over 200 Black boys/men, some from the suburbs and many from under-resourced areas, we were able to do just that.

Important Note: We had absolutely no police or security presence, and had zero incidents of violence. This reinforced our belief as an Abolitionist news outlet that police are not necessary to keep our communities safe, and that abolition is about the presence of community and life affirming services to create safety, rather than relying on police overseers.

Shot by: JB Studio

Why is a news outlet hosting a basketball tournament?

It is often forgotten that the Black Press was historically the second most important institution in the Black community behind the Black church. That was the case because they did not view themselves as disattached, “objective” observers who must remain “impartial.”

  • They did not prescribe to the eurocentric philosophy that media ought to be isolated from the community. It was in fact the exact opposite. They viewed their role as not only to inform the community, but to be as actively engaged with it as a school or church might be.
  • This essential aspect of the Black Press Tradition has been lost, often due to attempts to remain “unbiased” in the way of our white peer media institutions. At The Defender, we are returning to our roots.

1 More Thing – the summer is undoubtedly the most violent time of the year, and also when our city experiences the most deaths resulting from gun violence. These kinds of positive community programs and activities are what our youth need in order for such harms to be deterred. Numerous of the brothers at the Park Takeover said they’d love for this to not be a one-time thing, but something we continue all summer long.

Keepin It Real – We were only able to pull this off because of previous donations, but to be frank, there’s just no way we’d have the time or resources to continue this work without additional financial support. If you have enjoyed our journalism and considered donating but have not yet, please please consider Becoming a Defender monthly supporter so we can continue this not only radical truth telling journalism, but tangible community impact.

Our new website (thank you Indiegraf! ❤️) has made it super easy to donate, it takes less than 2 minutes, just click right here.

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