Gayle King and Oprah Winfrey: The Misdirection Of “Cancel Culture”

In his article “The Cancellation of Colin Kaepernick”, Ta-Nehisi Coates brought to our attention that “cancel culture” isn’t new:

“What was the compromise of 1877, which ended Reconstruction, but the cancellation of the black South? What were the detention camps during World War II but the racist muting of Japanese-Americans and their basic rights?”

The vitriol that can be wielded by cancel culture also isn’t new, but is much more visible now because of social media.

The release of a video clip from Gail King’s interview with Lisa Leslie that discusses Kobe Bryant’s rape allegations has turned into a publicity dumpster fire and has let loose a disgusting leg of humanity and cancel culture that has been horrifying to witness.

Unfortunately the negative fall out has been aimed at Gayle King and Oprah Winfrey in a startling onslaught of mean spirited energy. Among reactions to the video, most notable was an extremely disrespectful, profanity filled rant from Snoop Dogg.

Gayle has also received threats against her life and according to Oprah has had to heighten her security.

The upset and hurt resulting from the video clip is understandable. In “Gayle King And Kobe Bryant: There Is A Time And Place For Everything”, I expressed that now is not the time to bring up such a tragic incident in Kobe’s life. It doesn’t honor his family’s opportunity to grieve, and it doesn’t honor his accuser's healing process.

So many of us are hurting and we miss Kobe, but we have turned that loss into something that Kobe would not have wanted if he were alive.

Kobe expressed his sincere joy at being a girl dad, having been a father to all girls, yet men who say they want to honor Kobe’s memory have been disrespectful to Gayle King in a way that does anything but uphold his legacy.

Dare I speak on behalf of Kobe, but from what has been said of him by so many of his friends, I can stand firm in believing it impossible that he would approve of the language Snopp Dogg used to address Gayle King. He also most likely wouldn’t approve of all the men (or women) that have encouraged Snopp and agreed with the way he addressed Gayle in his video.

Different opinions and actions can exist along side each other. We can critique and disagree with Gayle King’s line of questioning in a way that respects Kobe’s memory. We can be angry at Gayle and the network that released the clip out of context, and we can call out Snopp Dogg’s utterly disrespectful verbal assault on Gayle. One does not take away from the other.

We can feel our feelings about Oprah and how we think she may relate to all of this in a way that does not attempt to blot out all the good that Oprah has put into the world for most of her life.

In this painful time of loss, cancel culture has proven to be severely short sighted.

Both Gayle and Oprah have done far too much positive work to now be treated in such an expendable manner because we are upset.

The high visibility of celebrities gives us as fans a sense of entitlement to their lives. We feel as if they belong to us in some ways, and we are not totally misconceived in that thinking. First and foremost, celebrities arrive to where they are in life due to their talent and persistence, but we as fans play an integral role in the building of their platform. So when celebrities die, a part of us is buried with them.

The mistake being made in this instance is that we have made Kobe’s death about us. We are making it about the part of us that we feel has died. His legacy is now being overshadowed, tarnished even, by the anger in our grief. That anger has led to the erroneous notions that we first have free range to disrespect Gayle King, and second, that we somehow have good enough reason to “cancel” a world wide figure such as Oprah Winfrey.

Kobe Bryant no longer being here has shocked some of us into delusion and irrational thinking. None of this is what Kobe would have wanted and no misogynist language or cancel culture intentions are going to be of any comfort to Kobe’s family. None of the disrespect we have seen honors his memory.

Not one disparaging tweet or Facebook post about Gayle King or Oprah Winfrey will bring Kobe back to us.

While I am not about telling anyone how to grieve, I do know there are respectful ways to honor the life of Kobe Bryant.

We should honor Kobe’s life by honoring those we love. We should honor Kobe’s memory by respecting the part of his legacy that is still here. His family.

If anything should be tied to Kobe Bryant’s legacy, it should be our loving and respecting each other in the way we remember him.

Cancel culture has no place in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death.

Writer of life, Actor, Host/Comedian, and Spoken Word Artist. The last great Atlanta native.

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