As we all attempt to make sense of the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, many in the media are telling us that his legacy was flawed. Leading the pack is “CBS This Morning’s” host and Oprah Winfrey pal Gayle King who recently interviewed former WNBA star and Olympic athlete Lisa Leslie. She asked her if her friendship with Bryant was complicated for her as a woman due to the sexual assault case in 2003 which was dropped and later settled out of court.
Leslie replied that it wasn’t complicated for her because she didn’t believe that he was the type of person who could violate a woman or be aggressive in that way. “But Lisa, you wouldn’t see it” King retorted. “As his friend, you wouldn’t see it”. To which Leslie answered “I think the media should be more respectful. You’ve had many years to ask him that.”
I couldn’t agree more.
There are many photos on the Internet of Gayle King and her best friend Oprah Winfrey with movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein is currently on trial in New York on rape charges. When Winfrey was asked about her friend’s sexual misconduct charges in this “Me Too” era, her answer was “If we make this all about Harvey Weinstein then we have lost the moment.”
Ex TV anchor Charlie Rose who was Gayle Kings former co- host at “CBS This Morning” is also facing allegations of sexual misconduct. When King was asked about it her reply was, “There are two sides to every story.” Really? It seems that there are only two sides to every story when friends of theirs, who are white are accused of sexual misconduct.
Winfrey famously interviewed accusers of Michael Jackson for a documentary entitled “Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland” which premiered after the HBO documentary “Leaving Neverland”. Jackson’s estate has disputed all charges and Michael Jackson was found not guilty on all fourteen counts in 2005. And as we all know Michael Jackson is now deceased and can’t defend himself.
Winfrey also was an executive producer on a documentary which was to be premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on music mogul Russell Simmons who has been accused of sexual misconduct. She recently pulled out of the project about a month after Mr. Simmons wrote an open letter to her on Instagram where he questioned her involvement in the project.
Sexual violence is a severe and rampant issue which is plaguing our society today. However, the theme of black men stereotypically being aggressive and violent, is also a problem which has resulted in false accusations of rape. Look at the case of Emmitt Till. Emmitt Louis Till was a 14-year-old teenager who was visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta area in 1955.
He was accused of whistling at a white girl named Carolyn Bryant. Several nights after the incident, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half brother shot Till, tied him to a cotton gin fan with barbed wire, beat him, gouged out his eyes and threw his unrecognizable body into the Tallahassee River. His corpse was recovered but was so disfigured he had to be identified using a ring that her was wearing. Both men were acquitted of the murder and Carolyn Bryant recanted her story years later.
Many other instances of black men being accused of sexual violence have resulted in the same outcome. The story of “Black Wall street” in Tulsa Oklahoma comes to mind. It was one of the most prominent concentrations of black businesses in the early 20th century until the Tulsa race massacre of 1921, where white residents massacred as many as 300 black residents, injuring hundreds more and destroying 35 square blocks within hours.
It began because a young black man named Dick Rowland tripped in an elevator and fell on a white woman Sarah Page who accused him of attempted rape. Whites in the area refused to wait for an investigation to play out sparking two days of unprecedented racial violence and destruction.
In Bryant’s case the accuser admitted that she willingly went to his room late one night and had consensual sex with him. She felt pain and asked Bryant to stop.
According to Bryant he did. I’m not sure why the woman suddenly decided that she was a victim. Or why the criminal case against Bryant was dropped. He later issued a public apology to the accuser for misunderstanding that the encounter was consensual. Bryant later paid an undisclosed sum to the accuser, which should have settled the matter. He was a 24-year-old married man with an infant when this took place. His wife stayed with him and they went on to have three more children.
Winfrey and King are perpetuating the dangerous myth of black men as rapists and sexual predators while at the same time defending men like Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose. Bryant is gone and can’t defend himself. Both King and Winfrey need to be quiet.