Fox News, March 28, 2014
The next issue of the New Yorker has barely hit newsstands and already a comment from Kobe Bryant hinting that he may not be in lockstep with the black community on the Trayvon Martin shooting has people calling for a boycott of the Laker superstar’s gear.
In a wide-ranging interview, the future Hall of Famer was asked about the Miami Heat’s show of solidarity for Martin, the 17-year-old African-American shot to death in Florida by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who was acquitted last year of second degree murder. Bryant he seemed to take exception to the idea that African-Americans should base their opinions on race.
“I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” Bryant said. “That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”
On Thursday, self-described civil rights activist Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E., angrily called for a boycott of all things Bryant.
“African American youth should no longer buy Bryant’s jerseys or shoes and should boycott all products he endorses,” Ali said in a statement. “Bryant doesn’t identify with the struggle that our African-American youth face nationally. So why should we continue to support Bryant who has never truly identified with the African American experience.”
Hours later, Bryant tweeted support for Martin, saying “Travon (sic) Martin was wronged THATS my opinion and thats what I believe the FACTS showed. The system did not work #myopinion #tweetURthoughts.”