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A Tale of Two Players
Let’s talk about some basketball news that is not necessarily about basketball. Have you seen the interview between Gayle King and Lisa Leslie? The WHOLE interview? The interview was approximately 25 minutes. They talked about a lot in the 25 minutes, including Kobe Bryant, Leslie’s close friend. Not only did they discuss his legacy and his philanthropy, but for about 2 minutes, King, a journalist, asked a few questions about Bryant’s rape allegations. Leslie told her point of view, and the interview went on. In context, it was somewhat of a blip, and honestly, a little bit uncomfortable. But Gayle King is a journalist, and her job is to ask uncomfortable questions. If she didn’t, she would be a PR rep. The backlash to the interview, however, would have you believe that all she talked about was the rape allegations with one of Kobe Bryant’s closest friends. Not only was it obvious that folks did not see the full interview, but rather the clip that CBS disseminated for the sake of click bait. And bait it was, and so many fell for it. It was not just armchair hoteps clicking away, but also famous stars like Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent sounding off about how “disrespectful” King was for bringing up a sore subject that was never “proven”. Another cog in the machine in the shape of a Black woman dedicated to destroying the Black race by way of destroying a Black man’s erstwhile pristine legacy with allegations of sexual misdeeds. Almost on queue, the straw men came out, wondering where her disdain for Harvey Weinstein or Woody Allen, and other famous white “alleged” sexual offenders. Pictures popped up of her friend Oprah and the former popped up, because why disparage one Black woman when you can disparage two?
Within a week of the backlash to Gayle King, Dwyane Wade and wife Gabrielle Union made an announcement on Twitter that one of their children is a trans girl who will from now on be known as Zaya. Furthermore, they love and respect her as much as they ever have. He said that it is his job as a parent to get Zaya as much information to support her and be her best self. In person and online, the responses from Black men who are neither Zaya’s parent nor guardian have been disappointing to say the least. It was a Greatest Hits of black queerphobia. More talk of the “agenda” surfaced. The “effeminization of the black man” trope was pulled out. Someone told me that they don’t care, but giving hormones to a 12-year old child is tantamount to abuse (bear in mind that no one in the Wade-Union household ever spoke publicly about any hormones being taken). The classic “how do I explain this to my kids” is always a banger. The hits just keep coming.
In both Kobe Bryant/Gayle King and Dwyane/Zaya Wade’s situations, the main culprit of the backlash is not what they did, but the fervent hatred of women and queer folks that still infests the community. It is especially disheartening for black men to engage in this type of hate. We are members of an already marginalized group. We have no business participating in the oppression to any group of people. Gayle King’s “offense” was being a competent woman who does her job. Black men in particular need to reconcile with the fact that we often are conditioned to hate ourselves, but also Black women. We can claim to love and respect and exalt them, but when the only woman we ever show true respect for is our mothers, there is a problem. Black women are scrutinized as much (and often moreso) as black men, in the workplace, in social settings, and in the media. We may not like what a woman does, like ask hard questions, but at no point is that a reason to threaten their lives and accuse them of being agents of hate for Black men.
Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union are doing their jobs as good parents. Some of us did not have the good fortune to have such parents like them, and saying “that’s just not how I was brought up” is not a reason to question their decision to support their daughter. It shows that both our parents and we have a lot of learning to do. I know that a lot of us never thought of ourselves as homophobes. I know I did. I said I had no issue with queer folks back in the day, “as long as they don’t flaunt it”, or “as long as they stay away from me”. That in and of itself is the major problem. I can’t claim to be non-homophobic if I wouldn’t wish to break bread with an LGBTQ+ person. Refusing to understand who someone is and how they live is phobic, as is showing disdain for how they express themselves.
If anyone claims to be pro-Black, we have to be pro-Black Woman and pro-Black queer folks. It is not just a matter of saying we respect them. As much as we express to our white allies that they need to going beyond being “not racist” to be anti-racist, we have to be anti-misogynist and anti-queerphobic. Anything less is inadequate.
About Chris Thompson
(he/his/him) Chris Thompson is an engineer, writer, comedian, and activist who made Rochester, New York his home in 2008. In addition to his role as Contributor for 540Blog , he currently writes the Chronicles of Nonsense segment for the Almost Tuesday show on WAYO-FM 104.3, and regularly posts and writes on his own on Instagram and Twitter at @ChronsOfNon.Additionally , Chris is a Food Writer for Rochester City Newspaper. His blog is http://www.chroniclesofnonesense.com
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