Days after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant, journalist Gayle King became entangled in a web of grief-driven backlash when a truncated clip of her interview with basketball star Lisa Leslie hit the airwaves. King probed Leslie on Bryant’s legacy, touching on the rape allegations that shadowed his career in the early 2000s.
The segment was aired without context, and critics, who hailed the line of questioning as insensitive, inappropriate and at its worst—hateful, made King a target of vitriol and misogyny within the Black community.
Snoop Dogg became one of the leaders of the verbal mob, posting a video on Instagram filled with threats and name-calling aimed at the careered journalist. Death threats haunted King both online and offline, prompting Oprah Winfrey to speak up on behalf of her friend, who understandably feared for her life. In the days that followed, Snoop went on to offer an apology to King—one she accepted—and made the decision to continue his forgiveness tour with a seat at Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Red Table.
I was admittedly skeptical about Snoop being on the show. First, because King as the victim should have been centered in the conversation, but Pinkett revealed early on that she offered an invitation to Gayle to come on the show too. Second, I was concerned about what accountability would look like for Snoop outside of apologies–too often Black women impulsively coddle and protect Black men amidst their own wrongdoing.
While the hate from men towards King came as no surprise, the Black women who joined in on the tirade against the 65-year-old, demonstrated how the sneaky hands of patriarchy compel women to fight at their own expense. This phenomenon, referred to in popular culture as pick-me syndrome, aligns women with the misogynistic views of their oppressor to earn favor or to appear more desirable. Black women are particularly vulnerable to dive into pick-me territory, triggered by scarcity and the desperation to be chosen by their male counterparts at any cost. Snoop’s defenders saw the tension between King and Snoop as a microcosm for an overall “attack against Black men” who are idolized in sports and entertainment.
A respected Black man passes away.
An uglass Black wanna be white woman spits on his name.
A Black man grieves his friend and calls out previously mentioned wannabe.
A different dumb ass Black woman reprimands Black man?
This ain’t it, Jada. https://t.co/TbiZbdp6QI
— Transforming…….💜💛💜💛 (@QueenOHarts) February 23, 2020
Right!! She started it!! He finished it #imwithsnoop I bet she’ll think twice next time trying to tarnish the black man!!!
— Rhoda (@Rhoda77862587) February 9, 2020
Just another example how the black mans value is deprecated. Snoop is being emasculated and he’on even know it.
— AShaye💫🕊 (@BlaqueBonnE) February 24, 2020
On Red Table Talk, Snoop himself addressed the “collective anger of Black men” saying they “came from behind closed doors” against King because they feel Black women are targeting them. “You guys are coming after us, and you are us. Why y’all attacking us, after we make it?” he said.
What’s missing here on both sides is the critical understanding that holding men accountable for their actions is not an attack. In fact, that accountability is what cultivates healing and mutual respect in our communities. It’s understandable that emotions were high in the wake of the death of one of our superheroes, but we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t acknowledge the human part of the man. While we can be critical of the timeliness of Gayle’s interview questions, the hate aimed toward her in the fallout speaks more about the disdain for Black women than a reverence for Kobe’s family.
And when the dust settled, Black women were left to pick up the pieces. Pinkett, along with her family members, Iyanla Vanzant and Jemele Hill, thanked and praised Snoop for his apology on “Red Table Talk,” seeing it as a step towards collective healing. Even though Snoop was called out by other famous men about his actions, it was ultimately a phone call from his mother that prompted his apology.
“There were certain things she said to me that made me feel like a kid again,” Snoop said.
I would’ve liked to see another Black man visible in this segment to hold Snoop accountable because so often Black women are burdened with the roles of victim, ally, fixer, and absolver. Ultimately, changed behavior will be the test of true reform, and hopefully another Black woman won’t have to bear this type of pain in the gap between sorry and corrected action.