Portland, OR-- A mile from Portland Community College-- on Rodney and Ainsworth,the future head men’s basketball coach, who lead the school to their first NWACC Championship-- Anthony “Tony” Broadous was born.
A basketball player himself, Coach Tony Broadous would play from noon to about eight or nine at night, almost everyday during the summers of the mid-80s. Yet the story was quite different during the fall:
“You know it rains here a lot in Portland, so we would try to get into PCC’s old gym or The Salvation Army or Alberta Park, up under the covered area. You know, stuff like that.”
Sometimes we fail to see the fullness of life. Broadous went from being a young man trying to find a place to play basketball at the same institution at which he would soon become the head coach of. With that journey there is an obvious impact of the interconnectedness and progression from a boy to a man. Having known he wanted to be a coach for most of his life, he could not have expected to be coaching on the same court he once aspired to play on.
As a coach with Grant High School for many years, Broadous was able to begin his job, not just a coach but as a mentor:
“We are not just building basketball players, we are building men. Men of character and substance. Men who will eventually get jobs, raise families and be a positive influence in their community.”
He has used his voice as their coach to advise them to take notice those who may not be seen as popular as them. Confessing that basketball players do have an immense perception of popularity, Broadous has instead advised them to not focus on being the stereotypical popular kid-- entitled and arrogant-- but be their friends:
“I tell them help others and raise their level of self esteem. [That is how how they can] make people feel better by just their presence and being nice to folks, as the quote, unquote ‘popular guy.’”
Despite just Broadous, there are many coaches that genuinely care for the development of the young basketball players they work with. These basketball players, are young men that face some of the most negative connotations out of all of the major sports in this country, especially those of color:
“I think there are so negative stigmas, but there are some positive, too. My main philosophy, is to try to push men to use their basketball ability and status to be positive influences in their community and specifically at the school they are in.”
As his story hinted and history teetered with the changes many communities of color are facing here in Portland; his ability to resonate with the topic came across quite vividly when asked:
What do you think of when you hear the word gentrification?”
“Sad. It’s just sad to see people of color being forced to move from an area, that they have grown up in and been such an influence and where their family has had such deep roots here. Now all of sudden they are moving out to SouthEast Portland. On my block specifically since me and my wife bought our house ten years ago, there was an African-American family on both sides of us, on the left and the right, a Latino family directly across the street from us and two other African-American families. So a total of six or seven folks of color. Now, ten years later it’s just us.”
Trying to dive deeper into the phenomenon itself, Broadous was able to uncover the roots of the problem:
“I think it’s [gentrification] class. Some might argue. Its class but it affects certain races. Since most folks of color are in a certain class and that class is the group that is being moved out.”
Once again his description of displacement came in the phrase, “moved out.” A term that holds a bounty of sympathy, while also carrying a frank message of intentionality. Which is simply true.
Many of the techniques used in the past were that of redlining-- the practice of raising prices in neighborhoods, for the residents of a certain race and ethnicity, and denying them the right to the services needed to live or own property in that area. So when a black family of four cannot buy a house in their neighborhood because they cannot receive a mortgage, have no choice but to move to a neighborhood that is more affordable as their rent becomes higher and higher. As redlining and other techniques of displacement continued, it allowed for the revitalization of these neighborhoods that were seen as the “red zones.” These areas, that were advertised as places in which no one wanted to live, to the home of shops that attracted the newcomers-- young, white professionals.
Practices like these, are the tools that have become the reason for organic hemp clothing bodega on Mississippi, which use to be one of Portland’s most diverse neighborhoods and also why the people of color who were long-time supporters of their school, Jefferson, watch helplessly as their neighborhood and school goes back to its early roots of being white. “The growth of the neighborhood in terms of looks of it, is awesome! One example is Jefferson High School’s football field. For years and years, it has been a grass field and when it rained and teams played on it, it would get all mushy and nasty. They just put in a brand new turf and the unfortunate thing is folks of color who have been on that field of color who have played on that field for years and gone to that school for years, have now moved out. And the turf field is going to end of serving non-people of color than it will people of color.”
Reflecting on his impact, with words quite simple and eloquent, Broadous offered his hope for how players and people, in general, will remember him:
“As a coach, to be remembered as a game changer. Someone who could come into a program that wasn’t doing too well and change that around, in a short period of time. Changing a team that wasn’t doing too well into champions. As a person, someone who loved God, someone who opened up doors for other people and enjoyed his life, while focused on helping other people set their goals and opening up opportunities for young people and old people alike.”