On January 26th, 2020, social media was swarmed with the devastating news that nine people had perished in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Quickly after the news broke it, it was confirmed that Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, had been among the nine people that lost their lives during that catastrophic accident.
Many people around the world mourned the beloved Lakers player, his young daughter, and the rest of the people that had been on board through this tragedy. It was almost magical to see how much some deaths can bring people together.
However, there are people around the world that don’t quite feel at ease with how Kobe Bryant is being portrayed.
Recently, Charles Barkley and Gayle King have come under fire for mentioning his rape case of 2003. A lot of people have become outraged by this reminder. Snoop Dogg even went into complete attack mode when he heard about King’s interview with WNBA star, Lisa Leslie. Though he’s apologized to King since then, it somehow feels as though Bryant’s rape allegation is an overall forbidden topic, which shouldn’t be the case.
Let’s not forget that the apology statement he released blatantly stated that he wasn’t aware that the accuser hadn’t consented.
“First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colorado. I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter. I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.”
Let’s take a look at this part of the statement: “Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did.” As much as we would love to go around it, consent is consent. It’s either there from all parties involved or it’s not. And when it’s not, well honey, that’s rape. Save your crushed feelings for the choir. Rape has no gray area.
Sure, the charges were dropped because the accuser decided she didn’t want to testify, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this occurred. Besides, how can we ever forget the accuser’s words that were laced with pain?
“He was groping me, I tried to leave, tried to break away, that’s when he grabbed my neck. And at that point I was just looking at him, didn’t know what to do, didn’t know what to say.”
Even though he faced some consequences after this ordeal, it was short lived. He quickly bounded back into normalcy without many blinking an eye.
For some reason, people excused Bryant when he lived and they want to continue excusing him in his afterlife. It’s as though many felt that his successes were enough to mask his wrongdoings. Using that as a basis for an analogy, then one can only assume that faults can be easily erased by anyone exhibiting sufficient accomplishments that have been witnessed by others.
I’m sorry that I have to be the one to remind the world of what transpired years ago, but it’s necessary. We can’t go through life forgetting the grotesqueness of someone’s actions because of the status they hold or held at some point in their lives.
If a regular schmoe went out and apologized for not “realizing” proper consent had been granted, they wouldn’t have gotten off the hook so easily. They’d be dragged relentlessly (as they should). However, if this person happened to have some success under their belt, then they might be able to get away without facing much consequence.
This concept isn’t new, either. We’ve seen it happen too many times before already. Unfortunately, most people have been conditioned to forget about these damned events as quickly as the accusers’ empty words dissipate into thin air. Don’t believe me? Well, follow me into a memory lane that is inundated with questionable falsehoods and deplorable filth.
Do you remember Brock Turner? You know, the man who tried to rape an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. I know there’s a lot of mixed feelings regarding this case, but we can’t deny how lenient Turner’s sentencing was — he only got six months! Aside from that, how can we forget the way he was portrayed to the general public? Rather than having his name headlined as a potential rapist, his successes were highlighted instead. Many news outlets spoke of him as the Stanford University student who was a great swimmer and student. I mean, I get it. He excelled at some things in his life, but this was definitely not the time to showcase them. Makes one wonder, if he hadn’t had such accomplishments, would he have been given a more fair sentencing?
Let’s take another instance where the public overlooked atrocious behavior because of who was involved. This time the focus will be on the O.J. Simpson case. How could we not mention this one? After all, this is the holy grail of how certain privileges can practically help you get away with murder. Of course, this is all speculation considering he was acquitted from his alleged crimes. However, this case has only brewed more doubt as the years pass. And with reason. The cold-blooded murder that centered this case was shadowed by O.J.’s superstardom and the strength of his achievements. Again, we blurred the lines of justice because someone’s famed reputation was more significant than anything else.
There’s a multitude of these situations, but you should have gotten the point by now. It is sad to say that it seems as though people blindly grant clemency to individuals who have been approved by society’s twisted perception of eminence.
Don’t get me wrong. I am aware of how much of a humanitarian Kobe Bryant became after his dark deed was squandered in the early 2000s. He was actually so wonderful in that aspect. Bryant helped plenty of causes such as those advocating for women and education. He donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is out-of-this-world wonderful. It was also so heartwarming to witness his outstanding parenting skills. Frankly, it was really refreshing to see Bryant try to evolve himself into a respectable man.
Bryant wasn’t all bad, but he wasn’t all good. It’s just the way it is and there’s nothing we can do about these types of facts. Nevertheless, most of us have both good and bad qualities as well and that’s just how the cookie crumbles. We all need to start accepting those truths as painful as it may be to some.
Despite how unpopular it has become to express feelings of disagreement towards the late Bryant, there’s nothing wrong with voicing these matters. In fact, it’s okay to acknowledge all of Kobe Bryant’s sides. All the good, the bad, and in between. Yes, even after his death. It’s not disrespectful, it’s just the reality. If disrespect towards the dead was really the concern here, then we wouldn’t be able to discuss history, now would we? Think about that and reflect on how biases can sometimes blur our perspectives.
Regardless of everything, our hearts go out to all of the families involved in that tragic helicopter crash. May they all rest peacefully and may their respective families be granted with the strength needed to overcome their losses.