It does not cease to amaze me why celebrities and other public figures believe that by simply issuing an apology for inexcusable acts that they feel that it is enough. Take for instance, Kobe Bryant. A young basketball prodigy who turned heads a few days ago when his outburst led to him calling referee, Bennie Adams, a f*cking f*ggot. Now even more recently, OC County GOP official, Marilyn Davenport, was caught having sent a flagrantly racist email that depicted the Commander In Chief, President Barack Obama, as an ape. As expected, she too apologized. Both incidents stink of Dr Laura whom, many of us will never forget, thought that spewing the N-word on her radio show in rapid succession was okay… as long as an apology is issued after. And although both Bryant and Davenport have only verbally apologized, it only illustrates that they’re mostly concerned about preserving their own images.
What makes both situations similar is that both Bryant and Davenport attacked specific individuals. Yet as of today, I’ve checked many websites and have yet to find any reference that either of them have issued personal apologies to the people who they offended. Is it standard policy for celebrities to only apologize to the public?
I guess for Bryant it shouldn’t be important to do so because he doesn’t depend on Adams to ensure he keeps getting those big corporate sponsorship checks. He depends on the rest of us that bring in the television ratings and ticket sales; which then lead to increased visibility; and then to the big Ka-Ching! that could be heard miles away from his bank account. But as expected, he was quoted as saying:
“What I said last night should not be taken literally. My actions were out of frustration during the heat of the game, period. The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone" (1).
Okay, so we’re expected to believe that you don’t have a dislike towards gays and lesbians. Let me ask you this, Kobe. You must have been surrounded by black people all your life. One if not many must have pissed you off at least once. But have you ever reacted by calling them F*cking N*ggers?
Davenport obviously doesn’t feel that President Obama is on the same evolutionary level as she, since she didn’t apologize to him personally. No, that’s below her. After all she’s too good for him. She was quoted as making this public statement:
“I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behaviour. I say unwise because at the time I received and forwarded the email, I didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive."
As per the Huffington Post, in the statement, Davenport also quoted the Bible and said she was "an imperfect Christian" who tried to "live a Christ-like honoring life." She further quoted in her statement:
"I would never do anything to intentionally harm or berate others regardless of ethnicity," she said. "I will not repeat this error."(2).
Marilyn, you were obviously amused by the photograph, and you were for the length of time that it took for you to look at the email and then forward it to a select group of individuals whom you thought would also find that photograph funny. I’ve only read about African-Americans who boycotted buses in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955. I've only watched footage of blacks being sprayed with fire hoses and attacked by police dogs, all done with the support and encouragement of Eugene “Bull” Connor. There isn't a doubt in my mind that you actually lived and witnessed the events that occurred during that horrible period first-hand, where African-Americans were compared to apes. I would not be surprised to learn that you lived within walking distance of restaurants or stores that catered only to Caucasians, more or less shopped or dined in one of them. If you really accepted that African-Americans were oppressed and unfairly depicted during the Civil Rights era, then it’s too difficult for me to accept that you wouldn’t have instantly been offended by the email that you received. What's even worse, is that you had the nerve to hide behind the Bible. Have you forgotten that it was so-called Christians who were responsible for Jim Crow laws? Your statement was only meant to appease the hard-working American taxpayers who keep a roof over your head and food in your mouth. It wasn't meant for anyone else. And you’ve got some nerve sending out pictures that depict Obama as an ape. Because ironically, the only person who hasn't evolved, save the ones who found the picture humorous, is you.
Like Dr Laura, both Bryant and Davenport have issued apologies after their faux-pas went viral. Typical, all say and no show. Bryant could show how sorry he was. Let’s see, maybe he can get together with other professional athletes, push for a movement to promote tolerance towards young closeted gay and lesbian athletes so that they won’t be afraid to come out and be themselves.
Speaking of coming out, Davenport has done just that, unintentionally of course. How can she show that she’s sorry? Maybe she ought to convert to Islam. She might lose votes, but hey, she might wind up with new support within the African-American community. After all, who’s ever heard of a Muslim Klansman?
Russell Brooks is the author of Pandora's Succession and Unsavory Delicacies.