There has been a rash of response recently to the remarks Kobe Bryant made during an interview regarding his positioning on the Trayvon Martin case. During the interview with New Yorker writer Ben McGrath , when asked about his response to the Miami Heat’s solidarity pic wearing hoodies, he smugly stated…
“Smartly, I won’t react to something just because I’m suppose to, because I’m an African American. That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and as 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 have progressed as a society. Then you don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’e African American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in another other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself. “
For a second, it seemed he was making a sensible point about reviewing the information and gathering the facts before getting caught up and leaping into an ill-founded solidarity stance. Nothing problematic about that; good advice. As a matter of fact, not just African Americans, but all people need to be re-presenced periodically to that insidious compulsion to tag in with the group think out of an unconsciousness need for a moment of belonging, validation and excitement. Critical consciousness often illudes many of us because we are not oriented to truly pause, think and evaluate for ourselves. So we just end up adding to the confusion when important issues really need our authentic reflection, response and contribution. So I say go Kobe, as far as that intent.
But then it clumsily wove into remarks which exposed the usual, unfortunate state of oblivion that too many African Americans fall prey to due to a total lack of understanding about the still deeply entrenched reality of institutionalized racism…
“So we want to advance as a society and as 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 have progressed as a society.” K. Bryant
That’s where the viral response kicked up heavy. Black folks weren’t tryin’ to hear it go too stupid from there, so they responded.
So let’s really take that apart and take a look at that with the discerning monocle. First, “we want to advance as a society and as a culture, but say, if something happens to an African American, we immediately come to his defense?” Well that’s almost an attempt at saying something very profound, except it’s totally self-contradictory.
He’s attempting to imply that advancing means we need to become “colorblind,” and “gender blind,” as he identifies himself.
Unfortunately, it happens to us all of the time. Some Negro will inevitably be attempting to “take the high road,” and transcend race under the auspice of “if we can all just push the suspend button on the race consciousness, it will all go away and racism will be instantly remedied… just like that!!” Obviously, from that perspective, the rest of us seem begrudging, bitter and hopelessly stuck in senseless cycles of enmity and disconnect. I’ve seen this scenario close up, even from loved ones. Folks really do want to be over it; the utter backwardness, diabolical design and unconscionable pain of racism.
But it doesn’t quite work that way Mr Bryant. It’s not as easy as it is for you to sink a forty foot jumper over a scrappy double team and claim yet another triumph to your history making tally.
Actually, the jumpers ain’t goin down like they use to either… or even the jump for that matter. But that’s another story.
The fact is black people, African Americans, Nubians, Asiatics, descendants from Akebulan and all the other designations to be considered (some of you won’t know what the hell that was about, but don’t worry – lol!), will never alter the entrenched fortress of institutionalized racism until 1) we understand what actually constitutes it, and then 2) make that information clear to all human groups that will support whatever forms of mobilization against it (so there’s much less confusion), as well as 3) making it clear to those who won’t support mobilization against it (dismantling, eradication, etc.), so that they know the fog of confusion and misinformation about it is losing it’s effect.
And what constitutes institutionalized racism is not just the ideology of racism (thought forms of superiority), but the institutional arrangement itself which ensures the domination and continued implementation of policies which cycle the dominant group right within their power position.
Negros just haven’t been taught what racism actually is, let alone the general population. Knowledge about the nature of such a system would be counter to it’s existence.
No, we need very intelligent people to be totally confused about for it to work. And like it or not, Kobe is a very intelligent person. So are so many of us.
But intelligent people are susceptible to, and succumb often to believing that they know more than they actually know. This is because they are so familiar with their own sharpness and intelligence (I should say we, because I’m right in that group too in the general sense).
But racism is not George Zimmerman hating Trayvon, or even viewing him as a “nigger.” It is the institutional system that has an entrench value system and code of enforcement that holds the life of Trayvon Martin as less valuable, and therefore less important, than that of a white kid. Therefore, the institutionally exacted penalty for killing a black kid walking home and committing no crime was zero! That’s racism folks!!! – the institutional system. Please work on getting that clear so we won’t go around the stupid-go-round too many unnecessary times with useless opinions and conjecture.
As if every time something “happens” to an African American, we all jump to their defense! Wait, Negro, are you crazy?? There are innumerable things that “happen” to black folks everyday; getting shot at, assaulted, robbed, discriminated against, unjustly penalized, harshly treated, called racially degrading terms; by whatever group, including often our own. Everybody knows this. And everybody also knows, we don’t have the time to respond, even as a fraction of a community, to 99.999% of it. So what is Kobe talking about?
Trayvon Martin’s situation wasn’t just another case of something “happening” to an African American. It was an appalling travesty of justice with the target being a black teenager that easily could have been anybody’s child, including Kobe’s, getting profiled, attacked and then murdered. It wasn’t some random “something happens to an African American, we immediately come to his defense.” Nobody came to my defense the other day when I was called “nigger.” I dealt with it in the way I dealt with it and kept it moving.
So, bottom line – we don’t need any more institutionally blind, cultural blind, and in effect socio-politically blind, superheros who are really masquerading as enlightened, oh so insightfully transcendent, “color blind, gender blind,” superheros. Come on Kobe; you are a hero bro!!! Hustle up and catch up to the reality of this level of the game baby. We need you. We need each other on board. Blessed