When Snoop Dogg Cussed Out Gayle King: What Did We Miss?

Though I do not agree with calling a woman out of her name, I have been reflecting on the angry incident between a Black man and a Black woman after the death of Kobe Bryant. What should have been a time of mourning became a media fiasco. Furthermore, when Snoop Dogg cussed out Gayle King, in our rush to defend either side, we missed something.

It’s Sunday and I have not written in a long time. I have been busy being Dr. Momma/Daughter/Niece over the summer. As the semester opens, I am back in the routine of juggling class preparations and doing my own research. Sunday mornings are my time for writing and reflection. And while I have not written one word in a very long time, essays have been gnawing inside of me like a gastric ulcer! I felt that if I didn’t write soon, I would just explode with thoughts and words.

Now, here’s something that I just can’t shake. As the old folk say, it has gotten stuck in my craw and there is not a thing I can do about this. On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and a host of other people who were riding with him in a helicopter tragically died in a crash. Let me just say, for Black America, it was one of the worst days. I saw people crying in public. I saw Black men, try to keep a stony public face in my neck of the woods, let their tears fall freely and hug one another openly(this was pre-pandemic). They gathered together to discuss the legacy of Kobe in stores, barber shops, and even church. Little children cried. For years, every time they took a jumpshot, they’d yell, “Kobe!” Now, one of their heroes had fallen.

Then, early in February, CBS News ran a clip of Gayle King repeatedly asking basketball superstar Lisa Leslie questions about a 2003 rape charge against Kobe Bryant that was dismissed. This interview was to be aired on CBS This Morning where Gayle King is the cohost.

Before the video could air, Snoop Dogg responded. I will refrain from posting the video in isolation here, but will post a link from a journalist, who I feel, did a fair job of covering the incident in its context.

Let it be repeated that Snoop apologized for his offensive name-calling and did not want his words to be a reflection on the women, his mother and grandmother, who raised him. As a woman/sister/mother/daughter/niece/aunt, I did not agree with Snoop calling Gayle out of her name. Gayle King is a respected journalist and should be treated as such. But the way in which Gayle King pressed Leslie and Snoop’s criticism ripped open the bandage on a gashing wound in Black America. The bottom line is this: the media rushes to tarnish the images and legacies of Black men. For whatever good they do/have done/will do, there are those in the media who will find that one human mistake and harp on it. They use simple, human foibles to tear down Black men while their white cohorts receive soft or no coverage at all for serious moral (and sometimes criminal) offenses. And when Black America speaks about the hypocrisy in all of this, we’re often accused of being “angry” or “playing the race card.” Nowhere is this more evident than in the sports arena and nowhere are Black people more complicit in tearing down other, high profile Black people than sports journalism. It’s sad to see and hard to admit, but some Black sports journalists make whole careers and are paid handsomely for tearing down other Black people in the sports world. They speak it first on a sports/news outlet, then the trash is amplified on social media by those who lack the critical thinking skills to question the motives of a talking head who repeats talking points on screen.

With the Snoop and Gayle incident, there were those of us who rushed to take sides: some commended Snoop for defending the legacies of Black men against the media, and some defended Gayle, who has put in DECADES of time in a white-dominated field, fighting for diversity on the camera and in the newsroom. Both sides, I believe, had valid points. The media (liberal and conservative) targets the images of Black men and disparages them, because the media simply re-presents long-held societal stereotypes about Black men. This strategy is so effective that many of us cannot see a Black man on television without thinking “criminal” or “thug.” This is a leftover stereotype from slavery. And white males receive “soft coverage” or no coverage for major crimes, because white males dominate the newsroom.

Here’s a case in point: when a football player went to kneel in protest, because he was Black, he was “disrespecting the flag,” and his bosses obviously felt that any type of political agency by a Black man is a threat. The President of the United States referred to this man and all who support him as “bastards.” When a group of angry white men used the country’s flags to assault policemen and perpetrate a violent attack on our nation’s capitol building, they are called “patriots.” Some of them are walking around free. Many of them still have their jobs. For weeks, Kaepernick’s “disrespect of the flag,” and not his “protest of violent police crime against Black males,” was carried in the media. For weeks. His protest became lost in another protest, and ALL MEDIA OUTLETS WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS. On the other hand, because we have a lack of diversity in the newsroom, even when we have Black faces on camera, white males receive “soft coverage” from the media. Why isn’t there more outrage of Brett Favre, who took a million dollars from poor people? Why didn’t Gayle press as hard on the Weinstein case? Someone in the newsroom made decisions that these things are not news and she did not have to. However, as an individual, it was her choice not to press on Bryant’s legacy as well. Sadly, I have to agree with Snoop on one point, Black people can be “the worst.” Right now, Black people are on social media tearing down sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson. The posts have been so venomous, that my husband has turned to several social psychology articles from peer-reviewed journals in an attempt to understand why Black people behave the way we do. I recommended this book:

Downloaded from Amazon.com

I believe it is essential reading by Black America to understand Black America. At any rate, the Jamaicans won and they are Black, so Black folk didn’t lose as far as I’m concerned.

But I digress.

In our rush to defend either Snoop or Gayle, we missed something: Black men love one another. When I heard the video, I did not hear one Black man going after one woman, per se. Though it was aimed at her, I heard raw grief and pain. I heard one Black man trying to defend his friend in death. I heard one Black man trying to protect his dead friend’s family. Believe it or not, many people do not know that Snoop and Kobe were the best of friends for many years. As a matter of fact, when Kobe retired from the Lakers, Snoop gave him a ridiculously expensive, custom old-school ride as a token of their friendship.

Do we think of Black men as being friends? Do we believe Black men and forming bonds in childhood that last for a lifetime? Or, have we bought into media images of Black men (some of them put forth by Black men themselves) that only show camaraderie of Black men on a sports team or in a gang? Are Black men friends, fathers, community members? Honestly? Do we think of Black men in these roles? Or, do we, when we see Black men in these roles on television or in the mall or at a restaurant somewhere, think it’s an anomaly? Is it 2021 and we still have not normalized Black men being, well, normal?

I mean, since the 1980s, Black men have become the face of gang violence, the proverbial “endangered species,” AIDS (which is still an epidemic, by the way), homicide (as perpetrators and victims), drugs (as dealers and users), dead-beat fatherhood, misogyny, and homophobia. Rarely are Black men the faces of friends, fathers, brothers, husbands, lovers, regular teenagers, kids who go to college and get into foolishness, young adults who make dumb decisions and learn from their mistakes, or say….a factory worker who puts in a 12-hour shift and comes home to a wife and 3 demanding children. When politicians say, “Working class America,” I know they mean white, working class America. Ain’t nobody talking Detroit. Right?

Movies that show positive Black masculinity in progress are few. We had The Wood over 20 years ago.

Downloaded from Amazon.com

Black men all over LOVE this movie. It’s one of the rare, happy movies that features them growing from boys to men. And I am not going to forget about The Brothers. Sadly, this movie is also over 20 years old. This is about a group of adult men who are supergrown. It’s time to stop playing around.

Downloaded from Amazon.com

Again, Black men love this movie, because it is positive. But I repeat like a poet: both these movies are over twenty years old. There are a few others that I could name, but they are over a decade old. In naming movies and shows, I am trying to think of those that DON’T involve drug dealing, by the way. I am trying to think of those that DON’T involve a major character as a gang member. I am trying to think of those that DON’T end with a major character, a Black man, being killed by another Black man. I know that these things are “real” as folks say, but so are love, happiness, friendship, and marriage. These things are equally real for Black men. Even in the ‘hood, every day ain’t bad. Don’t ya’ll remember the song?

In reality, Snoop and Kobe had a friendship that spanned the ages of these movies. Here they are hanging out somewhere. They are not so young but they are cutting up and acting like young men. I cannot remember where they were when a journalist for The Source snapped this honest photo of them both.

Downloaded from The Source.

They are clearly being silly, but something else is being communicated here. Look at the way Kobe is holding Snoop and the way Snoop allows himself to be held. The bond of their friendship is evident in the way that Kobe is holding on to Snoop in that valued manner. It is brotherly.

And here they are as older men, as in the guys in The Brothers. Both of them supergrown, looking at and admiring a car as older men tend to do (…as if they know what they are talking about. But we all know that they don’t. We ladies don’t want to bruise your egos, so we let you lie in confidence. Isn’t it funny how the older men get, the greater they were?). This is Kobe’s retirement gift from Snoop, and again, it is such an honest shot.

From the Los Angeles Daily.

The honesty in the shot lies not in the way the men look at the car, but in the way they look at one another. They validate and value one another. That’s love. That’s respect. That’s Black men loving one another. Do we, my reading audience on this Sunday morning, believe that grown Black men love one another? I KNOW that they do. In spite of all the cartoonish caricatures of them, I know that Black men are human, and being human entails planting, cultivating, and reaping the harvest of lifelong friendship.

This does not come from my class, but from personal observations. School has started for me, so see you this semester.

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LaToya R Jefferson-James

LaToya Jefferson-James has a Ph.D. in literature. Welcome! The professor is in! Come in and stay a spell. Let’s discuss and learn from one another.