In light of recent comments from West in which he indicated that he felt that slavery was “a choice,” Bryant — who has become far more outspoken politically as he’s gotten older, did not mince words while speaking to a classroom of L.A. area high school students at the “We Rise LA” event (via TMZ Sports):
“Completely disagree,” Kobe explained.
“The thing about our country is that you have the right to say whatever it is that you want to say ... that’s the beautiful part about living in a democracy.”
He added, “Conversely, you also have to take the responses that come after that as well because everybody has the freedom to say what it is that they feel.”
”For him, he’s one of these entertainers that’s always in a constant state of growth ... he’s always challenging not us as people but really himself. He’s doing a lot of questioning internally himself.”
”I just take it for what it is and completely disagree.”
For context on exactly what Bryant was disagreeing with, here was West’s statement in the TMZ newsroom from earlier this month (as transcribed by CNN):
“When you hear about slavery for 400 years ... For 400 years? That sounds like a choice.”
The rapper went on to add:
”You were there for 400 years and it’s all of y’all. It’s like we’re mentally imprisoned.”
Bryant disagreeing with West is hardly surprising given the, well, metric tons of historical evidence that slavery was not, in fact, a choice.
However, it is good that Bryant isn’t letting his (former?) friendship with West get in the way of disputing the rapper’s regrettable assertion.