NBA superstar Kobe Bryant is in hot water for comments he made to the New Yorker magazine about slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
Kobe seemed to sympathize with the teen's killer, George Zimmerman, when he used Trayvon as an analogy to explain his belief that American blacks choose their battles based on skin color rather than studying the merits of a situation before reacting irrationally.
“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” Bryant 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.”
The reaction from the black community was swift.
From Fox News:
Although the 35-year-old Bryant, who spent much of his childhood in Italy, where his father was a professional basketball player, did not take a position on the merits of the case against Zimmerman, critics came down hard. Hall of Fame NFL running back Jim Brown told the article’s author Bryant doesn’t understand the African-American culture.
“[Kobe] is somewhat confused about culture, because he was brought up in another country,” Brown said.
On Thursday, self-described civil rights activist Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E., angrily called for a boycott of all things Bryant.
“African American youth should no longer buy Bryant’s jerseys or shoes and should boycott all products he endorses,” Ali said in a statement. “Bryant doesn’t identify with the struggle that our African-American youth face nationally. So why should we continue to support Bryant who has never truly identified with the African American experience.”
The last time Bryant was dragged this unmercifully by the public he was brought to tears. This is a young man whose only connection to the black community are his black parents.
In response to the backlash, Bryant tweeted, “Travon (sic) Martin was wronged THATS my opinion and thats what I believe the FACTS showed. The system did not work #myopinion #tweetURthoughts.”
But others, such as BET contributor and best-selling author Keith Boykin, tweeted their support of the besieged superstar athlete:
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) March 28, 2014
Thanks to loyal reader Ernest Ortiz for the tip.