I, along with a bulk of the industry, am noticing a trend.
If you fuck up in the public relations realm, you better go to Red Table Talk to fix it. The most recent example was T.I., when he decided to take one giant misogynistic leap for mankind and claim ownership of his daughter’s hymen.
Following a turn of events that included an explosive display of misogynoir in reaction to Gayle King’s interview with Lisa Leslie where she asked about the late Kobe Bryant’s rape case, Snoop Dogg joined Jada Pinkett Smith, Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris and Willow Smith to discuss his specific social media attack against King (and Oprah) and his subsequent apology on Wednesday’s episode of Red Table Talk.
“I was like, ‘Not Snoop!’, Pinkett Smith exclaimed in the series promo. Back home, where I don’t have room for a big red table in my tiny Los Angeles studio apartment, I replied to my computer screen, “Yes, Snoop!” The same Snoop who was featured in a 1992 song with Dr. Dre noting that “bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks?” That Snoop? Or perhaps the more mature and evolved Snoop who admitted on this very episode that following his gospel album Bible of Love, he resorted back to his regularly scheduled “bitches” program in I Wanna Thank Me because it’s “hard to let go of it”? That Snoop.
“I let my emotions get the best of me. I was frustrated on top of just venting,” Snoop admitted, reconfirming earlier reports that it was his mother who inspired him to finally make a public apology. He also noted that the back-to-back losses of his grandson, Nipsey Hussle and Kobe overwhelmed him.
While watching the full episode, I noticed a string of red flags, as red as that circular table in the center of the room.
“I wanted to make sure that the message was across that we love Kobe, but be respectful of Vanessa and those kids,” Snoop claimed. “That’s what the whole intent was, to protect that woman and them babies over there because they are still grieving. Let’s give them some respect.”
Look, I absolutely acknowledge and respect that asking a loaded question while friends and family are freshly grieving is a sensitive sore spot. As for protecting Vanessa, we have no way of knowing the complications of the grief she’s experiencing. After all, along with the alleged victim, his wife was affected by the sexual assault case, as well. Where is the “respect” for those instances?
I do also wish Pinkett Smith had asked the inevitable question in order to have the necessary well-rounded discussion: When is the right time to ask about the iconic basketball player’s sexual assault charge? It wasn’t “right” when he was alive because the case was dismissed and fans didn’t want to tarnish his achievements and belittle his growth, nor was it “right” when discussing his life history after he died.
To me, if you are going to honor and remember someone as the fully fleshed human they were, you have to acknowledge every bit of them…even the ugly parts. When part of your commemoration involves deification, did you really love and honor the person—or the god you’ve created in your head?
Pinkett Smith did confirm she had reached out to King and offered her a seat at the red table for a future discussion. Though King wasn’t present during this talk, it would’ve been productive to have a journalistic voice in the room.
King didn’t unleash something that wasn’t already public knowledge, so avoiding it would’ve been neglecting her job. Whether or not you agree that the sexual assault charge question should have been asked, it is quite obvious that it was both an uncomfortable question to be asked and to ask. These are the journalistic breaks. Journalists get praised all the time when they ask hard-hitting questions of universally hated people, but all of that is thrown out the window when it happens to someone you like? That’s not how any of this works.
One day, it’s going to be cool and trendy to lessen the burden on black women for once, and have a show where black men take each other to task—publicly. Maybe you can call it, “Black Table Talk.”
“When this thing happened with Gayle, I got calls from Tyler Perry, Puff Daddy, Van Jones, like powerful black men, and they didn’t bash me, they was just like “brother, we got your back if you need [anything], but we think that you shouldn’t have said it,” Snoop recalled.
That’s cute and all, but where was the broadcast version of this? Where is the 30-minute (or more) dissection where black men do the hard work and unpack the deep-rooted misogynoir they carry amongst themselves? When will these “real” conversations stop being private and safely tucked away, dependent on the chosen black woman to clean it all up on her digital series?
As we’ve experienced with the now-expired “What About Harvey Weinstein” defense, black men have long felt they are targets in a smear campaign not afforded to their white counterparts. We’ve exhausted the faults of this argument already (namely the desire to be absolved of their wrongdoings for the purposes of “equality”), but it certainly isn’t lost on me that while so many people were attempting to cloak black men with protection, they forgot the black women who became casualties in the fight—as was the case with R. Kelly, for example.
Toward the end of the discussion with Snoop, Pinkett Smith cited a previous conversation with Tupac in which she tried to explain why his casually misogynistic lyrics were harmful and he retorted, “I’m not talking about you!” It’s a common expression men use, similar to something I’ve said before and will now say again: Nigga, no one thinks your daughter (shout out to #GirlDads), mom, sister, or girlfriend is special but you. While you’re thinking your loved one is the exception, the other nigga is lumping her in with the other miscellaneous “bitches.” So, yes, Tupac was talking about Jada.
“This conversation is not about taking sides. This conversation is not about proving who is right and who is wrong. This conversation is about healing,” Pinkett Smith said at the top of the episode, before diving right into the controversy.
Aside from realizing Pinkett Smith and Snoop had never met in person prior to this episode, there wasn’t much of a revelation on my end while watching. And to be honest, I’m still not sure there was a complete revelation on Snoop’s end, either. Was there true accountability on his part or was he coddled for simply showing up?
“I honor your courage, your integrity, and the demonstration of leadership that you are for apologizing for your behavior,” Iyanla Vanzant told Snoop in a clip.
“When they came for me, you were one of my supporters, so I just appreciate the fact that you were able to help us push this conversation along in a positive direction,” Jemele Hill said in a subsequent clip, referring to the backlash she received during her time at ESPN.
I’ve recently met Snoop in person and have relegated him to the “chill uncle” status, but that general likability certainly doesn’t absolve him of hard-hitting critique when he’s fucked up, right?
“I don’t mind being checked,” Snoop admitted. To me, the process of being checked involves a far more complex and complicated journey than a 30-minute interview would allow, of course. Will Snoop actually do the hard work to unpack his misogynoir, or will he consider his deed done because he completed his public relations service at the red table? I guess time will only tell…
To view the full episode of Red Table Talk, featuring Snoop Dogg, head to facebook.com.