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April 19, 2011  | by: Vanessa Douglas

Kobe Bryant

Even though we live in a world that is becoming more open-minded, we are still on the path to being more accepting. Every time individuals try to take a step forward, there are plenty more that are regressing, and, unfortunately, Kobe Bryant happens to be one of them.

Bryant has recently been fined a measly $100,000 for using an inflammatory and derogatory slur towards a referee, Bennie Adams,  who called a foul during a game between the Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs. The incident was captured, and has been in the news ever since. Bryant is looking to appeal the fine, which only proves that he is not necessarily feeling contrite about his behavior.

He did issue statements of apology, but his attempts were simply poor, ”My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period. ” He also stated that, “The words expressed do not reflect my feelings toward the gay and lesbian communities and were not meant to offend anyone,” and that his words should not have been taken “literally”.

My question is if his comment was not meant to be literal, then how else was it supposed to be perceived? It is understandable that he was upset, but why was the first thing that came to his mind, in reaction to the foul, a slur? If he were in the position of the referee, and someone used a derogatory term towards him, there is no doubt that Bryant would have taken action.

In response to the incident, John Amaechi, a former NBA player, wrote an open letter adressing the issue;

When someone with the status of Kobe Bryant, arguably the best basketball player in a generation, hurls that antigay slur at a referee or anyone else — let’s call it the F-word — he is telling boys, men and anyone watching that when you are frustrated, when you are as angry as can be, the best way to demean and denigrate a person, even one in a position of power, is to make it clear that you think he is not a real man, but something less.

I challenge you to freeze-frame Bryant’s face in that moment of conflict with the referee Bennie Adams. Really examine the loathing and utter contempt, and realize this is something with which almost every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person is familiar. That is the sentiment people face in middle and high schools, in places of worship, work and even in their own homes across the United States.

Amaechi elaborates, saying that Bryant is not an inherently bad person. He says that Bryant made a mistake, but he also says that the player must take responsibility for what he did, and set an example, not only for the people looking up to him, but for fellow players, athletes, and the general population.

It is admirable that Amaechi is not playing the blame game. He is right- Bryant should own up to what he did. No one is perfect, people make mistakes, and that is fine.It seems what is problematizing is that Bryant seems to feel no remorse for what he said.It is not okay that he used that type of language, but if he were to learn from his mistakes, then something positive would come out of this situation.

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