It was another ritualistic dragging on social media this week, as Black Twitter read Gayle King for filth for daring to ask WNBA veteran Lisa Leslie about the darker side of Kobe Bryant’s legacy (his 2003 sexual assault charge, which was subsequently dismissed and settled out of court) during an interview on CBS This Morning. And this time, several famous folks piled on as well, most notably Snoop Dogg, whose disapproval escalated to a now-viral expletive-filled rant on Instagram in which he not only called King several pejoratives but accused her (and BFF Oprah Winfrey) of being complicit in a plot to destroy black men, ending his post by seemingly threatening the morning news host should she not “back off.”
“Respect the family and back off, Bitch,” the rapper, author and TV personality spat at the screen, adding, “Before we come get you.”
Unsurprisingly (if sadly), most engaged in the online conversation seemed undisturbed by the vitriol and suggested threat of violence Snoop spewed at King; neither was it widely considered an outsized response to the issue at hand. (Or perhaps, many who found the footage disconcerting felt it unsafe to address it as such.) Instead, the rapper was roundly lauded for defending black manhood against the alleged evils of two high-profile black women who—and I paraphrase here—have a clear agenda to uphold white supremacy (comparisons to the much-despised Trump pundits Diamond and Silk made this abundantly clear).
But Snoop wasn’t done. He then posted a series of years-old paparazzi photos of King and Winfrey smiling alongside widely-accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein, adding his voice to the chorus of those indicting King for failing to interview Weinstein about the multiple allegations against him. (As if she wouldn’t if she could; King actually did interview Weinstein’s defense attorney Donna Rutunno last fall, asking questions of a far more pressing tenor than those she asked Leslie.)
Snoop then went for Winfrey’s neck, positing that she: “Did that fake ass [Michael] Jackson shit to tarnish his name with them lying ass kids and here she is with a known rapist smiling and laughing. Fuck u and Gayle. Free bill Cosby.”
For many, “free Bill Cosby” was a bridge too far. Suddenly, many of the same people who’d been co-signing Snoop’s campaign against King and Winfrey were suddenly backpedaling in response to the rapper’s defense of a convicted rapist.
And then, as if on cue, an even more controversial voice entered the fray.
That’s right. It was Bill Cosby himself (or a passionate surrogate), presumably tweeting from prison, where he is currently serving a three to 10-year sentence for three counts of aggravated indecent assault, following a firestorm in which dozens of decades-long allegations also surfaced.
Cosby’s aim in this clandestine—yet highly public—mission? To thank Snoop for defending his honor, tweeting: “[W]hen they brought me to my gated community and placed me inside of my penthouse, they didn’t win nor did they silence me. It’s so sad and disappointing that successful Black Women are being used to tarnish the image and legacy of successful Black Men even in death.”
Aside from the sense of entitlement and self-delusion it must take to refer to prison as a “gated community” and your cell as a “penthouse,” how ironic that Cosby should tweet about black women being “used” when a significant percentage of the women who accused him of drugging them for the non-consensual use of their bodies were—wait for it—black women? Cosby’s sudden allegiance to a man he likely turned his nose up at while free (Snoop being a purveyor of the very culture Cosby railed about in his infamous “pound cake” speech) was telling:
Misogynoir loves company.
Let’s be clear: However you feel about the appropriateness of King’s line of questioning, it in no way warranted a suggested threat of violence against her. (As Winfrey disclosed on the Today show Friday morning, King has received death threats in the face of the controversy.) If you thought it entertaining to hear Snoop call her a “funky dog-head bitch,” you are equally as complicit in a culture that regularly denigrates black women yet expects us to indiscriminately sacrifice our safety, dignity, and integrity for the sake of black men—without any guarantee of reciprocity.
On its face, Snoop’s alliance with a man who has unapologetically exploited women (since by Cosby’s own admission under oath, he has used sedatives to have sex with women—but still admits no wrongdoing) is a reminder of the rapper’s own self-proclaimed status as a “pimp.” However, the collective endorsement of his hatred for two black women—however capitalist or questionable their tactics may be—is bigger than Gayle King or Oprah Winfrey. It speaks to a broader racial dynamic that consistently denies gender dynamics, as well as the very real dangers black women often face within the very same communities we so staunchly defend. In the “us vs. them” dichotomy that often frames race relations in America, as black women we all too frequently find ourselves thrown beneath the bus, shamed into silence, and wondering, “but what about us?”