Having complex emotions about Kobe Bryant is okay, sis.

I’ll be honest, I REALLY didn’t want to do a post about this. Because there’s SO much nuance, so much sensitivity around it and the complexity of emotions (including my own) – along with how I’ve seen some people throw the phrase “rape apologist “out willy nilly in these discussions(there were times it was valid but many times it was not) was exhausting to even think about tackling.

But this is a much needed conversation so… here we go. 

First, I want to talk about what I observed with the conversations surrounding Kobes death. The most notable is that Black women weren’t having the majority of the conversations about it- it was white women. When BW were discussing it, they generally expressed extreme grief over the loss of Gianna, Kobes daughter, and at the horrific nature of how everyone perished. 

White women, well, that was a different story. I firmly believe that if you let people talk long enough, they’ll show you how they really feel and WW some of you didn’t disappoint. 

I noticed how often WW would use the rape accusations to show and excuse their own callousness and racism. A lot of you celebrated his death AND made sure to point out that you celebrated his 13-year-olds death too, as just a casualty of war, so to speak. 

You lambasted Black women for having deep, complex emotions surrounding this-adorning the thickest of white-centered glasses that overlook cultural sensitivities.

You mocked and laughed at the death of Gianna, the pain of her surviving sisters and the grief of her mother. 

You randomly brought up other Black men, who have absolutely nothing to do with this situation and proudly professed how you hoped, they too, met the same fate. I’ve asked a few WW why they felt it relevant to bring up arbitrary Black men or Black men in general and haven’t gotten a single answer yet- not that I actually expected one; I’d be hard-pressed to get these women to acknowledge the bias in their statements. 

Some of you threw racist vitriol at his surviving daughters, Black women as a whole, his wife and Black men in general under the guise of #Metoo and pretentious, fake as hell, just for show, virtue-signaling solidarity with women.  

For some reason, you thought that BW wouldn’t see it and wouldn’t call you out on it. But what I saw was BW, once again, being forced to put forth an extraordinary amount of emotional labor trying to educate you all on history, cultural relevance, what an actual rape apologist is and their own feelings. 

But because many of you don’t know, I’ll explain what I mean by cultural relevance. Kobe has been one of those Black celebrities that many of us grew up with. Black people all over yelled “Kobe” when making basketball or crumpled paper shots since elementary school. He was a part of our media as he was featured in Black TV shows and even in music growing up. He even impacted our fashion-when jerseys were in style, most everyone had a Kobe jersey. He was (speaking specifically about his cultural impact NOT anything else) considered Black excellence, was revered for his talent and was a Black household name. Kobe was so intrinsically a part of almost every part of our culture. So what you’re seeing, with the diverse amount of emotions being displayed by Black people, is not simply about his physical death or about ignoring the totality of his actions to include the awful ones – but about the death of a part of our culture. He is linked to so many fond memories many people have and THAT is part of what is fueling a lot of the expressions of sadness and grief. It is NOT about not believing his accuser or about apologizing/excusing his actions. 🗣One more time for the people in the back:  It is NOT about not believing his accuser or about apologizing/excusing his actions

There are Black women who refuse to talk about Kobe at all because of the rape accusations.

Some of us only mentioned sorrow for his daughter and family. 

Most of us fall somewhere between acknowledging how great of an athlete he was, a great dad, how ingrained he was in our culture, how absolutely grief-stricken they are for him and everyone involved AND not sugar coating how absolutely horrendous/unforgivable/disgusting the allegations are. 

ALL of these are valid viewpoints and BW – we are allowed to explore and sit with the layered emotions that encompass this entire situation. 

WW, sometimes you need to realize that you don’t need to say anything at all. That nuance matters, cultural awareness is important and that intentional or not, your true motivations and biases are apparent in how and why you say what you say. 

janayWhen JanayB isn’t posting memes, scrolling through “wokebook” posts, ordering food and otherwise being your typical millennial, you can find her here destroying white tears and basking in her unapologetic blackness. Get in touch with her at JanayBsays@gmail.com.

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