(ThyBlackMan.com) I’ve always loved Stephen A. Smith. His energy, intellect and instinct as a sports analyst is second-to-none. I also appreciate the fact that every time I was on Stephen’s Show (“Quite Frankly, which ESPN should never have taken off the air), he always treated me with decency and respect. I appreciated his show because there are few media spaces where black men can congregate for intelligent discourse, which makes his show even more precious than the amazing work being done right now by Arsenio Hall.
With that being said, sometimes, one brother has to check another. Stephen A. Smith is a friend to the athletes, and with those friendships come the trappings of cronyism. Unfortunately, this can sometimes cause us to defend the indefensible or stand up for ignorance solely because the person spouting that ignorance happens to be a prominent and respected colleague.
In this case, that friend happens to be LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Bryant made some unfortunate remarks this week about the Trayvon Martin case. I hope he was misinterpreted when he stated during a recent interview that he doesn’t feel the need to stand up for someone just because they’re black. Of course we can agree on this to a point, but in the Trayvon Martin case, there wasn’t much ambiguity.
Kobe Bryant then followed his untimely comments with a set of confused statements about our progress as a society and a misguided belief that somehow, racial harmony must be equated with changing the way we evaluate the thousands of cases of severe racial injustice that occur across the country and around the world. The point for Kobe Bryant to consider is that you may not defend someone just because they’re black, but there are people who will kill you just because you’re black. That’s still the America in which the rest of us reside.
Stephen A. spoke with Arsenio Hall recently and defended Kobe’s remarks, saying that Kobe was “on point” with his comments.
Really Stephen A. Smith? On point about what exactly? If you’re saying that he was on point about not defending any old buffoonery just because someone is black, I agree with that (see my many nasty discussions in the past with toxic hip-hop artists). But if you’re using this argument to somehow defend Kobe’s aloof and disconnected reaction to the Trayvon Martin childslaughter, then that’s when we have to hit the breaks.
The fact of the matter is that despite what Kobe Bryant says, LeBron James and the Miami Heat should be applauded for breaking the typical athletic silence when it comes to severe racial injustice in America. Black people are sick and tired of athletes spending so much time choking dollar bills down their throats that it murder their own vocal chords in even the worst of tragedies. Black men should be better than this and we are meant to be more than petty corporate puppets.
The millions of young black males looking up to Kobe Bryant, buying his jerseys and supporting him on the court are looking for a black man who cares about them more than he cares about Nike sneakers. However, if Kobe chooses to remain disengaged, that’s his right. At the same time, he should not conveniently choose to become engaged when he chooses to urinate all over the hard work being done by those of us who actually give a d*mn about our kids.
Let us reiterate the simplicity of the Trayvon Martin case that brought the entire nation together: Trayvon was unarmed, stalked and blasted in cold blood by a deranged, unauthorized security guard primarily for being a black man with a hoodie in the wrong neighborhood. George Zimmerman was then acquitted for this murder and later proved to the nation that he is every bit the violent stalker that the world believed him to be.
The fact that a black man’s death must be such a squeaky clean case of injustice makes it virtually impossible for us to get justice or support in cases that might be more nuanced. If a black man has a criminal record, then he must have deserved to die. If he happened to have a gun to protect himself, then of course the white man had to shoot him. The bar is set high when trying to explain why a black man might have been an innocent victim instead of the frightening monkey-men that the world believes us to be. If anyone should appreciate the pain of these gross mischaracterizations, it would be tall, muscle-bound black professional athletes.
The idea that even a case as clear and unambiguous as that of Trayvon Martin still evades the consciousness of our most prominent athletes is resounding proof that many of these negroes have indeed been brainwashed and had their brains sold into slavery.
I love Stephen A. Smith and I maintain that he was a wonderful brother to meet in person, but in this case, he’s flat out wrong. He and Kobe have to remember that there is a responsibility that comes with being a prominent African American and the world can’t start and stop with unhealthy cronyism. If Kobe is really your friend, you’ll correct him. Stephen, I think you know that I’m right.
Financial Juneteenth lessons from this article:
1) African Americans have been economically disadvantaged historically. This can often lead to excessive materialism and a suffocating belief that all matters of integrity should be abandoned for the sake of earning extra money. This might produce a wealthy bank account, but a meaningless life and a soul that is effectively bankrupt. You can get rich, buy fancy cars and use your money to enhance the greater good, all at the same time. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
2) There is a reason that the best athletes in America are not very well educated, along with many leading hip-hop artists. Corporate America doesn’t have a strong incentive to give platforms to educated, courageous and conscientious black men, for this would lead to the destruction of many of the white supremacist constructs that allow the existing power structure to maintain itself (which is why Arsenio Hall lost his show shortly after giving a platform to Min. Louis Farrakhan). So effectively, athletes are kept uneducated and addicted to money for the same reasons that many pimps keep their prostitutes addicted to drugs. An addict will almost never become an activist because an addict is too busy chasing more drugs. Black men are becoming addicted to money, fear and complacency. This has got to stop.
Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins