Hoop Dreams: Deconstructing “He Got Game”

During my Race and Film class at UC Berkeley, I wrote this analytical piece focusing on Spike Lee film, He Got Game. The film is not only an amazing piece, but is a strong analysis on the commoditization of the black male athlete. My essay follows the path of understanding the struggle of the protagonist, Jesus Shuttlesworth, towards upward mobility in an oppressive society.

In the 1998 film, He Got Game, director and writer Spike Lee tells the narrative of a young man surviving the obstacles presented within the black community and struggling to make executive decisions in his life. The rising basketball star, Jesus Shuttlesworth, becomes a target for so-called friends seeking to profit from his growing fame. Meanwhile, Jesus’s father, Jake Shuttlesworth is in prison for manslaughter, leaving Jesus and his sister to be independent. While he comes across multiple paths, Jesus overcomes many barriers and manages to survive as an emancipated, parentless teenager in an adult world. Despite the oppression of people of color and the working class, the Jesus’ journey depicts the development of a self-reliant role model within the urban community, embodying the hope for upward mobility in the capitalist hierarchy.

he-got-game-movie-poster-1998-1020282271The film opens with a montage of Jesus Shuttlesworth’s success story. Jesus is well-known in his community for being the prominent player of the Rail Splitters, the Lincoln High School Men’s Basketball team in Coney Island. As he is preparing his future and graduating from high school,multiple sports agents pressure Jesus in search of signing contracts to colleges, the NBA, and other endorsements. According to the news media, Jesus is a remarkable athlete and the top pick of high school basketball players. In addition to managing a successful basketball career, Jesus.works a full-time job and raises his younger sister, Mary, due to his parents’ absence. Meanwhile, Jake Shuttleworth, Jesus’ father, is in prison for manslaughter of his wife (Jesus and Mary’s mother). While in prison, Jake is receives an offer from the New York Governor: a shorter prison sentence in exchange for a signed letter of intent from Jesus to Big State University. With temporary freedom, Jake has a week to get the signature and reconnect with the family he left behind.

While often dismissed as simple game, basketball carries a strong following, a community to which the game is lifestyle and a part of daily activity. When Jesus is introduced, he is playing 1-on-1 with friend in a basketball court in Coney Island. Along with this shot, we cut back and forth to Jake playing basketball in prison (4 min). Jesus plays basketball for fun, a pastime activity, in his home environment with a friend. On the other hand Jake shoots the ball in a court within a celled environment, where his only pastime is shooting hoops. As the shots juxtapose Jesus and Jake, basketball appears to be the connection between the two men. In the eyes of the Jake and Jesus, basketball represents a form of freedom, an escape from the stressful and destructive surrounding society. Although they both see the game as a community ritual, others don’t share their passion for the court.

After the Rail Splitters win the high school championships and are interviewed, Jesus discusses his connection to basketball: “Basketball is like poetry in motion, cross the guy to the left, take him back to the right, he’s fallin’ back, then just right in his face. Then you look at him and say, ‘What?”‘(14min). To Jesus, basketball is a form of art, a physical display of talent and body language for self-expression. As Jesus creates his “poetry” on the court, he exercises the freedom of expression, escaping his daily struggles the only way he knows how. Through basketball Jesus empowers himself, finding success through his passion. In his physical abilities to dominate in basketball, Jesus finds confidence and independence in a society where a young black man is not expected to even graduate high school, but rather incarcerated like his father Jake. Jesus’ physical art on the court represents one of the few forms a black man can become self-governing and attempt to escape oppression from the racial hierarchy.

[Read the entire essay here]


1) Dir. Spike Lee. He Got Game. 1998.

2) Fields, Barbara. Slavery, Race, and Ideology in the United States of America.

3) Methods in Cultural Studies (Afro Amer Studies 142 AC Handout)

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Return to Photography

Steps into the Ocean #1 Tides of Baker Beach

Steps into the Ocean #3 Baker Beach

After a long hiatus on creative photography, I picked up my Canon T4i out for a spin to break in my Rokinon 8mm Fisheye lens and 18-135mm zoom lens. I took a hike out from Baker Beach to the Golden Gate Bride. There were many pretty sights, but the main objects of my attention were the ocean and the spiral staircase leading to the beach.

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Farewll Dolan Law Firm

After a year at the Dolan Law Firm, I have decided to say farewell. It wasn’t an easy choice. Throughout my role, I connected with local leaders, organized events, and managed our public relationships. In my transition, I am in the middle renewing sponsorship agreements for 2015 and finalizing my role at the firm.

This markets a transition into a new phase in my life. Starting 2015, I am pursuing a path towards new roles in the marketing field and studying for the GMAT. I hope to develop more creative projects while I find my next challenge. Meanwhile, stay tuned.


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Dolan Law Firm Flyers: Who We Are

Info Flyer -- DLF #2-01 Info Flyer -- DLF #1-01










During our many Dolan Law Firm sponsored events, potential clients would stop by our booth and ask for more information regarding our firm. I noticed that we did not have an informational flyer to explain our legal field and provide information on the Dolan Law Firm. I took the initiative to design three informational flyers which I could hand out at events. One flyer in for English and Spanish, in addition to a flyer focusing on Bike Law.

Since one of our main focuses is Bike Law, I decided to include my office colleagues in a Bike to Work photoshoot to represent our staff and urban cycling. It was a fun experience to collaborate with my coworkers and to include them in my project. In the final flyer, you can see one of our top Legal Assistants riding her bike in front of our offices. Click any of the images to see the full version.

Info Flyer -- Bike Law #2-01Info Flyer -- Bike Law #1-01

Info Flyer -- Spanish #2-01Info Flyer -- Spanish #2-01









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53rd Annual CAOC Convention


For months, we have been planning for the 53rd Annual Consumer Attorneys of California (CAOC) Convention at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The CAOC convention is one of the largest plaintiff conventions in the Bay Area and the Dolan Law Firm has been an sponsor for over five years. On November 14th we finally executed our booth setup, including our truss and photobooth. Our entire staff attended the event and represented our firm in the presence of the top plaintiff attorneys in California.

In addition to planning our setup, I also designed our photostrip for our photobooth. Many of the CAOC attendees stopped by to take a picture, leaving with our photostrip design as a soulvenir.


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Yoga for the People, Yoga For the Mind

As a yoga fanatic, I thought of organizing a research paper on the health benefits of yoga, explaining my reasons for practicing this wonderful meditation exercise. Thank you for reading!



Originating from Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism religious culture as a spiritual and physical discipline thousands of years ago, yoga continues to impact the future wellness and psychology. As meditative flow of movement, yoga deviates from the common man’s gym routine by combining athletically and cognitively challenging exercises. Unlike typical meditation methods, yoga stimulates the mind in discipline and revitalizes through the embodiment of powerful expressions. Expanding beyond the spiritual elements, yoga is a psychologically and physically empowering exercise that can influences mood and behavior, specifically combating anxiety and stress within modern culture.

Aside from benefits of flexibility and spirituality, yoga combines physically and mentally challenging disciplines to impact brain stimulation. In 2013, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign published a study in stretchintrothe Journal of Physical Activity and Health measuring the relationship between yoga on cognitive performance relative to the average workout, finding that “reaction times were shorter and the accuracy was significantly greater after an acute bout of yoga for tasks requiring greater amounts of executive control, indicating improvements in inhibition and working memory”1. From the study’s conclusion, researchers found that participants performed at a stronger mental capacity after 20-minutes of yoga, compared to jogging on a treadmill. In addition to shedding pounds off your body, yoga promotes brain function by utilizing stress management exercises, like controlling the flow of breath and relaxing the mind in meditation. By releasing tension and anxiety through the flow of breath, an established stress management tool for slowing and regulating heart rate, you become sharper and mentally agile. Beyond the physical stress relief, yoga’s meditative properties also have an impact on the mental perspective to break from an uneasy mind.

Now, that we have established Yoga as a stress management tool, we can move forward with yoga as a form of managing happiness. While the modern work routine builds anxiety and accumulates tension, yoga combats overthinking by shaping a calm and worry-free environment. In the Harvard study titled A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind, researchers take a look at the human thoughts and overall happiness, concluding that “mind wandering occurred in 46.9% of the samples and in at least 30% of the samples taken during every activity except making love”2. Distractions and overthinking are common in the daily routine of modern working class society, which typically result in stress and anxiety. In our modern social culture there is an overwhelming amount of stressors such as work, social life, self-image, technology, and health. Although the Harvard research suggests that making love is the ideal approach to resolve the worrying mind, yoga is the best runner up. Mindfulness is a yodic practice, deriving from Buddhism, clearing the wandering mind from distractions —time, competition, doubt— by grounding oneself in present moment. During yoga exercises, praticioners are encouraged to practice mindfulness by letting go of exterior concerns, instead focusing on their body, mind, and breath. In becoming grounded to the present self, the worrying mind is relieved from exterior anxiety and tension. Although practicing yoga does not guarantee happiness, behavioral changes like a healthy boost of confidence and a sharper mind are definitely expected. A worry free mind is a happy mind.

Unlike the typical workout, yoga uses body language found in nature to improve confidence and self-awareness. Social psychology professor at Harvard Business School, Amy Cuddy, investigates expressions of power in found nature and their social effects within human social culture in her research, “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance,” finding that when subjects performed high power poses experiences a “[20%] elevation of the dominance hormone testosterone, [and a 25%] reduction of the stress hormone cortisol and increases in behaviorally demonstrated risk tolerance and feelings of power”3. In Cuddy’s research, she found that even when faking these high dominance poses, subjects felt a sense of greater power. As opposed to low power poses where one is protective and shielding oneself, high power poses expand the body and taking ownership of space. Yoga utilizes human body language by mimicking dominance poses found in nature, not only as stress management tool, but as an mechanism for confidence and dominance. The Warrior I pose (Virabhadra) is a standard high power pose where you spread your arms above head level during a 90-degree low lunge.4 Aside from the empowering name, the Warrior I Pose is a high power pose that embodies strength and control. In the Warrior I pose, one can envision the strength of Atlas balancing the world on their shoulders. After a yoga session, the natural rise of testosterone and reduction of cortisol in your body will feel more confident and stronger than the titan bearing the weight of the world.

Throughout history, yoga was a religious practice and now in recent history science has caught up with the potential health benefits. In the outdated fitness culture, we are taught to run on a treadmill like hamster in a wheel. Yoga redefines the world of health and fitness, packing in flexibility, stress management, and meditative properties among other benefits into one session. Yoga is a meditative flow of motion, perfectly combining mentally stimulating and physically challenging trials. As a growing a popular fitness exercise and therapeutic method, the effects of yoga upon the body and mind are worth experiencing firsthand. In 20-minutes of yoga, you have an immediate impact upon mental agility and sharpness, imagine what you can achieve in a lifetime.

Primary Resources

  1. Neha Gothe, Matthew B. Pontifex, Charles Hillman, and Edward McAuley. “The Acute Effects of Yoga on Executive Function” Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2013, 10, 488-495
  1. Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert. “A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind.” Science 12 November 2010: 330 no. 6006 p. 932. PDF
  1. Carney, Dana R., Amy J.C. Cuddy, and Andy J. Yap. “Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance.” Psychological Science 21, no. 10 (October 2010): 1363–1368.
  1. YJ Editor. “Warrior I Pose.” Yoga Journal. Aug 28, 2007.


Secondary Resources

  1. Amy Cuddy. “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are.” TedTalks, TEDGlobal 2012 (Lecture). Filmed June 2012.
  1. Robert H. Schneider, MD, FACC, Clarence E. Grim, MD, Maxwell V. Rainforth, PhD, Theodore Kotchen, MD, Sanford I. Nidich, EdD, Carolyn Gaylord-King, PhD, John W. Salerno, PhD, Jane Morley Kotchen, MD, MPH and Charles N. Alexander, PhD. “Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease” Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 2012; 5: 750-758. PDF.
  1. Andy Puddicombe. “All it takes is 10 mindful minutes.” Ted Talks, TEDSalon London Fall 2012 (Lecture). Filmed Nov 2012.
  1. Shawn Radcliffe. “Study: Short Yoga Sessions Boost Brain Power.” Men’s Health. Accessed on November 4, 2014.
  1. Wikipedia. Accessed on November 4, 2014.
  1. Wikipedia. Accessed on November 8, 2014
  2. Kirkwood G, et al. “Yoga for Anxiety: A Systematic Review of the Research,” British Journal of Sports Medicine (Dec. 2005): Vol. 39, No. 12, pp. 884–91.
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MCBC and Access4Bikes: Biketoberfest Marin

1956697_834536706567603_7145069025272105648_oimg_0741 copyThroughout 2014, the Dolan Law Firm has sponsored several events organized by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC). In October, Access4 Bikes and MCBC collaborate for Biketoberfest, hosting the best beer in Northern California and raising funds for the Marin cycling community.

If you look closely, you can see my the new table cloth I designed for events as well as my sports bottle design. We have away every single sports bottle we brought out to the event, proving the event a success. Since attendees were drinking at the event,  they were naturally drawn to the photobooth after a few brews.

Out of all the brewery’s that sponsored the event, my top choices were Lagunitas and Lost Coast Brewery.


Find out more information at BiketoberfestMarin.com

Visit the Dolan Law Firm’s Bike-Law Facebook for information by clicking here.

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Bike-Law: SF Bike Coalition Advertisement


The Dolan Law Firm has an ongoing collaboration with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (SFBC), also known as SF Bike. Since we are involved with Bike Law and local politics, the Dolan Law Firm sponsors the Tube Times, SF Bike’s quarterly newsletter. Early 2014, I designed this advertisement, which changes spot colors every quarter. You can see my designs in past issues of the tube times from 2014. You can click the thumbnail to the right to see a full version.

Catch the latest Tube Times by clicking here.

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Photography: Expedited Trials

IMG_9845 IMG_9867

Recently, I worked on a photoshoot at the Dolan Law Firm, in which we created an exaggerated visual representation of an expedited trial. The images were used in a flyer for the Capitol City Trial Lawyers Association for an event.

I collaborated with a Dolan Law Firm attorney and on other staff member for this photo. It was a fun experience that allowed for a creative and fun project.

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Bottle Design

Bottle Design

At the Dolan Law Firm, we like to focus on the bike community, participating in SF Bike Coaltion, Marin County Bike Coalition, and Bike East Bay. Recently, I created these sports bottles and designed a Dolan Law Firm band to wrap around the neck.

So far, we have given away 100 at our events.

Bottle Band copy

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