What a tragedy! The loss of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi and the other people who lost their lives in such a horrific accident. It has sent the world into a daze with the loss of one of it’s greatest heroes.
Now I have to admit upfront that I am not into sports as much as my counterparts but I do appreciate the work and sacrifice that it takes to be a champion. Especially devoting twenty years to a job that you love. He took Jordan’s game to the next level and forged his own path into the hearts and minds of generations to come.
My heart goes out to his wife Vanessa, his three daughters and family. Though I can’t imagine what she is going through, I know she knows that the community is surrounding her with love and protection.
The protection squad is out in full force and upfront after and interview that Gayle King is with WMBA star Lisa Leslie, Kobe’s longtime friend. Gayle asked about Kobe’s case ( you can google it) and the interwebverse went into hive mode and headed straight for Gayle.
Now I think Gayle was wrong. I think the question could have been asked to Kobe and that Leslie did not deserve the weight of that question. The question itself is layered and complicated. But to ask in the midst of a grieving process was way out of pocket. And sometimes you have to pick family over a job. Yes, Gayle has a job to do but a journalist with her level of power can choose how she frames her interviews. She is not a junior reporter of a local station nor is she not Auntie Gayle, Oprah’s best friend. Whatever you may think of them they are the Grand Dames of the black community. Now we are questioning if they actually deserve those places in our hearts. However we examine these questions for ourselves, threats are never acceptable.
Personally, I did not like the questions nor did I think it was the right time for the questions. Kobe has not been laid to rest and there is just a time when you have to respect the dead. Many arguments, discussions, and perspectives have gone around the globe about this situation and honestly, that is not the point of my commentary on the subject.
I really believe that there is a bigger conversation that we as a black community need to have. That conversation is about how we deal with our pain and grief.
After my initial WTF moment, I had to sit back and examine my thoughts on this. And although I am incredibly disappointed in Gayle I also realize that she is a black woman and still deserves to be protected. She fucked up but what is also fucked up is this cancel culture. Whatever we thought about Kobe’s case we allowed him to redeem himself and move forward with the community support.
Everyone deserves the space for redemption. Now we may let you stay over there on time out for a long time but we will watch your moves to see how you move in the future. That’s just truth.
Now to give context on where my thinking is coming from we have to look back to 1965-68 when the voting rights and civil rights acts were passed. We have been in this country for centuries but we have only been full US citizens for 55-56 years. And as a society that I call Black America, we are relatively young. A fifth of the age of the United States itself. Yes, we have been in America longer that the United States has been alive but our collective as free citizens is new.
With any new society and organization, we have to grow, create rules, boundaries and evolve. But I don’t know of any society in a matter of 55 years has been able to cultivate and evolve so quickly. We have created our own culture and way of life that encompasses a culmination of many different ways of life that reach all the way back to Africa. But also included the bloodlines of our captures and plantation owners. None of who black people are today is free of our lineage. Nor are we free the pain of our lineage.
The pain of our lineage is breathing strong in our veins. It is a pain that we have yet to deal with because life itself is moving to fast. We just keep pushing forward and look for joy in our life. And one of the greatest joys we have is watching someone like Kobe play a great game. Engaging in sports is bigger than just who won or lost it’s a pattern of success that many want to emulate.
But for Kobe fans he was iconic and a role model. The root of the word father is a pattern. And he patterned what the journey looked like for many boys and men who grew up without a father. Kobe is family. No matter if you love him for a moment or for a lifetime he is family. He is the crown prince of black America. And don’t anybody say nut-tin’ bout our baby. If you didn’t say it then don’t say it now.
We are grieving. The pain is still fresh our lips. There has not been a funeral or memorial service. Truthfully his wife may only do a memorial service. But we are grieving.
Not only for Kobe but we begin to question our own mortality. We begin to examine our own lives. We sit with more questions than answers. After hearing of Kobe’s death I had to lay down. Lay down in my thoughts recalling where I was when my mother passed, when my father passed and when my brother passed. They were the icons that I had to say goodbye too and keep moving forward.
In moving forward I did not know how to process my pain and grief. I did everything but what to feel it. No one knows what to say or do for me. It was hard to find my joy but years later I found it.
It was a long process but I had to face it head-on. And as a community, it is time we go through the process of learning how to deal with our pain. This pain and all that came before it.
From my perspective, that backlash towards Gayle has partly misdirected grief. And that is something that I can certainly relate to you. Waking up sad and still have to go to work and instead of dealing with my sadness, somehow during the day it is mutated into anger and it is directed at someone in my path that has nothing to do with my pain.
Kobe’s death has had a great impact on everyone plus all that is going on in our country has many in an unsettled place. But moving forward we have to learn how to communicate with each other in a better way that is more productive and moves us forward as a community.
We must begin dealing with your own trauma and loss. We can read books, go to therapy or join a support group. We focus so hard on staying positive but that is not working. We prove that by how easy it is to get shook. Critical thinking is essential but so is healing.
I did not expect this to be so long. Thank you if you got to this line. I really want us all to win and be one united family. And honestly, I hope we take all of this unity into the election and use this energy to change everyone’s lives for the better.
Blessings and Light