Unless you belong to an arbitrarily specific religion that prays exclusively to Gayle King and/or Oprah Winfrey, neither of those women are gods. Which means that neither is infallible. And if, for instance, you allowed Gayle to borrow your last $20 and she refuses to pay you back, or you invited Oprah to a game night and she stole all of your forks, “fuck Gayle” and “fuck Oprah” would be reasonable responses to those acts.
What is unreasonable—what’s past unreasonable, actually, and is legitimately gross and violent—is the vitriol these women are receiving for doing things some (wrongly and stupidly) perceive to be antiblack. In Gayle’s case, both Anne Branigin and Maiysha Kai have recently written brilliant pieces articulating the fallacy of believing now is “too soon” to think about, discuss, and reckon with how and where the sexual assault allegations against Kobe Bryant fit in his legacy. And Maiysha specifically deconstructed the explicit misogyny in Snoop’s response to Gayle and the tens of thousands of digital and spiritual co-signs it received. So I won’t go back down that road.
But I will say this: Kobe is dead, y’all. And as shocking and tragic and devastating as that still is for many people, erasing a crucial part of his legacy—and attempting to flatten the voices of people uninterested in hagiography—ain’t gonna bring him back. And it ain’t gonna change who he was, what he was accused of doing, and the still-vibrating reverberations from that fallout. We all leave footprints when we leave here, and “Colorado” is cemented, forever, in the soil. This doesn’t mean that redemption was/is impossible. Just that the world is messy. And we’re the ones who make the mess. And if finding space to grapple with both the Kobe Bryant you wish to memorialize and the Kobe Bryant that Gayle King asked Lisa Leslie about breaks your brain, good! It’s supposed to be hard! But that’s honest. That’s necessary. That’s human.
What’s easy—what’s the easiest thing I’ll think about and/or do today—is Snoop.
Snoop Dogg has been fortunate enough to shift into this current, classic rock/elevator-rap phase of his career, where he retains status as an “elder” and even allows himself to be called “Uncle Snoop.” He’s used his tremendous platform to be a vocal critic of what he perceives to be antiblackness. Along with his critiques of Gayle, he’s shared similar thoughts about Kanye West. The irony here is that while he’s accusing Kanye and Gayle and Oprah of being sellouts, if being demonstratively antiblack is what makes you one, Snoop has been a sellout his entire career. And he isn’t just a garden-variety sellout; he’s perhaps the most prominent sellout in the fucking country (and definitely the richest). The Michael Jordan of sellouts.
Understanding this requires a fundamental shift in how antiblackness is commonly thought of and assessed. Basically, you have to decenter black men and center black people. In his almost 30 years (!!!) now of being a public figure, there’s nothing Snoop has done to suggest that he doesn’t hate black women; nothing you can nod to in his “real life” as a mere counterpoint to the art he’s created, which has consistently and happily displayed an antipathy for black women and encouraged disrespect and/or violence towards them. He is an unfathomably rich and middle-aged black man who, in his almost 50 years of life on Earth, has only displayed public affection for one woman—Martha Stewart (who is, um, white)—while relentlessly shitting on the women who look like him.
Again, this is easy.
What’s also easy to see is that those insults and threats towards Gayle were a performance. When watching that video, I didn’t see a man who was hurting; pouring his grief out on film and through anger. I saw an expert performer who (rightly) assumed his fury would seem righteous if directed at a black woman he believed to be vulnerable to claims of antiblackness. Everything about it, from the positioning of the camera to the bonnet or whatever the fuck he was wearing, was stagecraft. A bully’s greatest weapon is his emotional intelligence. The best ones are experts at reading people/rooms and understanding human nature, and this is what enables them to choose the right targets. And of course, Snoop knew there was a virtual army of people ready to ride with him, as he has 150 million in the bank that proves that the vocalized and weaponized public disrespect of black women is a booming business. Perhaps America’s boomingest.
When you’re that consumed by and entertained with the hate of an entire demographic, is it even possible to love someone as much as he claims to have loved Kobe? Of course, it’s possible to love a myth. It’s possible to love a performance. It’s possible to love how Kobe made him feel. But can you love a full person? Does he possess the emotional bandwidth for that? Hmm, we’re back to the hard questions again. Let’s end with an easy one.
Is Snoop Dogg a sellout?