“IT’S A SHAME”

Usually, that’s just the title of one of my all-time favorite records by the Spinners, which by the way, was written and produced by Stevie Wonder. But today, it’s how I’ve felt the last two days in the wake of the inexcusable slur shouted at NBA referee Bennie Adams by Lakers star Kobe Bryant during Tuesday’s game. By now, you’ve all either seen the video or read what Bryant screamed so I won’t repeat it here.

As upset as I am over the fact that anyone, let alone a well-known public figure like Bryant, would dare utter in public what he said, what troubles me even more has been the reaction of many African-Americans, particularly some of my own friends and associates. If I hear or read the words, “Well, yeah, he shouldn’t have said it but…” one more time, I’m going to scream. He shouldn’t have said it period. No “if”, “but” or “well…” about it.

Bryant meant to say it because apparently, for whatever reason, that’s how he feels about Bennie Adams. Being frustrated or in the heat of a game is no excuse. Emotion, or alcohol for that matter, may very well loosen one’s tongue and let you say things out loud that you normally wouldn’t say, but they don’t put vile words in one’s mouth. Those types of words come out because they are already in someone’s vocabulary and mind and they are used as weapons, meaning to offend and hurt.

I am appalled and disgusted by anyone who says Bryant didn’t mean to offend homosexuals in general and Bennie Adams in particular or that he didn’t deserve to be fined 100K by the NBA. I even read a remarkably ignorant entry by one of Roland Martin’s Facebook page “friends” that because NBA commissioner David Stern chose to fine Bryant for his actions, Stern must be gay too. If you ask me, and granted, not many have, I think the fine should have been 250K and if the Laker organization had any guts, they’d fine him too.

Many African-Americans need to stop and think about this for a minute: what if the situation had been exactly the same but the player had been say, Kevin Love and the referee was Leon Wood, an African-American and Love called Wood a “f**king n***er”. What do you think the reaction from the NBA, black fans, “The Reverends” (Al and Jesse) and folks like Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Steve Harvey, Tom Joyner, etc? I’m pretty sure there would have been an uproar unheard since the day Don Imus lost his mind and called the Rutgers women’s basketball team “nappy-headed hos” a few years ago. And rightfully so.

Civil Rights are not just for people of color. They are for EVERYONE, regardless of race, creed, color, religious beliefs and sexual orientation. It’s a shame that so many of us forget or don’t know that in the first place.

It’s a shame that Kobe Bryant doesn’t realize or admit that what he said on Tuesday night was one of the most appalling and stupidest things one could ever say about another human being and an even bigger shame that instead of taking his medicine (the fine) like a man, he’s appealing it through the NBA Players Association.

It’s a shame that one of sport’s biggest stars is also one of its smallest people.

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