Barry got impressed with the game of the University of Hawaii basketball team. After seeing it, he decided to become part of that world and began going down to a playground near his grandparents’ apartment after school. By the time he reached high school, he was playing on Punahou’s teams and could take his game to the university courts, where a handful of black men would teach him an attitude that didn’t just have to do with the sport. That respect came from what you did and not who your daddy was. That you could talk stuff to rattle an opponent, but that you should shut the hell up if you couldn’t back it up. That you didn’t let anyone sneak up behind you to see emotions-like hurt or fear- you didn’t want them to see. And something else, too, something nobody talked about: a way of being together when the game was tight and the seat broke and the best players stopped worrying about their points and the worst player got swept up at the moment and the score only mattered because that’s how you sustained the trance.

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He spent his time living out a caricature of black male adolescence, itself a caricature of swaggering American manhood. His life was different from those of the man-boys around him, who resided in the limited number of options at his disposal. At least on the basketball court, he could find a community of sorts, with an inner life all its own. It was there that he would make his closest white friends, on turf where blackness couldn’t be a disadvantage. And it was there that he would meet Ray and the other blacks close to his age who had begun to trickle in the islands, teenagers whose confusion and anger would help shape his own. Even though he experienced lots of disparity due to his skin color, he thought that it wasn’t merely the cruelty involved: he was learning that black people could be mean and then some. He also felt uncomfortable whenever he said the word, white folks. He had to recall his mother’s smile. I think the reason why his inclusive policies on racial issues in the future have been supported by the public may have originated from his chaotic adolescent experiences having a white mother and a black father. -P.84, August 17, 2021