by Yvette Carnell
After all this time, you’d think I’d be used to it. Still, even in 2014, when a black star is given cover by the black community, then turns around and placates the “post-racial” white community, it stings. At issue are Kobe Bryant’s comments in the March 31st issue of the New Yorker where Bryant, with his usual dismissive arrogance, wagged his finger at the Miami Heat for rallying around Trayvon Martin:
I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” he said. “That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.
Well, first of all, those who demanded George Zimmerman’s arrest did so because Zimmerman stalked, instigated a fight, and then gunned down an unarmed teen. Race was only an issue because Zimmerman made it an issue. When Zimmerman decided that the black boy walking home from a convenience store with Skittles and iced tea must’ve been up to no good because he was black, then race became an issue. Those who rallied for Zimmerman’s arrest after the fact weren’t responsible for injecting race into the case, so Kobe Bryant is wrong on the merits.
Even more disturbing though is Bryant’s short memory. Does he not recall how black people rallied around him after he was accused of rap¡ng a 19 year old white girl at a Colorado hotel in 2003? During that period, does anyone recall Bryant speaking out and cautioning the black community against rallying behind an alleged rap¡st just because he’s black?
Honestly, the evidence suggesting Zimmerman’s guilt was much stronger than any evidence pointing to Bryant’s innocence. In that sense, if there’s anyone who blacks should not have rallied around, it was Kobe Bryant. We did the right thing by standing up for Trayvon Martin. We made a mistake when we stood up for a narcissistic basketball player who is not anchored in the African-American tradition, has no direct experience with American racism, and refuses to empathize with those who have. Former running back Jim Brown was right when he spoke of Bryant’s aloofness and indifference to the plight of African-Americans. Bye, Kobe.