Street basketball culture comes to Calvin

This past Monday, Calvin College’s Multicultural Student Development Office (MSDO) brought the multi-talented Bobbito Garcia to campus for a screening of his new documentary “Rock Rubber 45s”. The documentary addresses his influence and the rise of street basketball and sneakerhead culture in New York City. As one half of the legendary “Stretch and Bobbito” radio show, Garcia helped introduce the world to then-unknown hip-hop talents such as Jay-Z, Nas and Eminem. Students had a chance to talk to him afterwards.

If one asked the average Calvin student who Bobbito Garcia, it’s likely they would respond with “I don’t know who that is.” In fact, if you asked the average individual around the United States, it’s likely they wouldn’t know. In the era of larger-than-life social media superstars and media personalities, icons and culture engineers of the olden days are often brushed over and in some cases outright ignored.

Born in 1966 in New York City to Puerto Rican parents, Garcia grew up in the fast-paced environment of New York City. He braved a hub of affluence while attending Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia and survived a challenging college experience at Wesleyan University. Even though he is proud of his heritage, Garcia is an early pioneer of traditionally African American culture. He is a pioneer of sneaker culture and, according to him and, he was the first to ever write an article about the shoe-collecting culture which engulfed New York and has become a global fascination worth millions each year. As a former Puerto Rican pro basketball player, he helped develop the subculture of street basketball into a global phenomenon. MSDO coordinator Martin Avila goes as far as to say that Garcia is one of the most influential pioneers of New York street culture (all three subcultures combined) of all time; this culture has now stretched across the globe.

Despite his cultural influence, Calvin was only able to draw about 40 people to attend the screening of Garcia’s film, “ROCK RUBBER 45s.” At the lunch he held for students, many students later said he came off as very humble despite the level of influence and connections he fosters by his presence alone.