During most segments of First Take, a weekday program aired on the ESPN sports network, the discussion focuses on a wide variety of topics ranging from football to basketball and even golf. However, on Friday morning, co-host Stephen Smith addressed the subject of race-related politics.
Responding to a feud between Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown and Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant regarding their knowledge of the black culture in the U.S., Smith declared: “It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever” that black conservatives “are considered pariahs and are ostracized in our communities.”
The clash between the football and basketball stars started a week earlier, when Brown was a guest on Arsenio Hall's new weekday talk show on Wednesday, when he charged that Bryant “is confused” about black American culture because he grew up in Italy.
After stating that he thought Brown's remarks were "surprising," Bryant responded with this tweet: “A 'Global' African American is an inferior shade to 'American' African Americans?? #hmmm … that doesn't sound very #Mandela or #DrKing, sir.”
Then on Friday, Smith told First Take co-host Skip Bayless that he spoke with Kobe before that tweet was sent, and Bryant told him that this is “not a conversation that he’s running from. He welcomes the opportunity to have that conversation.”
Smith then noted:
When it comes to the African-American community, you have a plethora of individuals. For example, the black population hasn't given the Republican Party more than 15 percent of its vote since 1964.
The sportscaster and columnist then used the Brown/Bryant flap to illustrate what he considers a partisan political dynamic within the black community:And anybody who is deemed a black conservative, I am not one of them -- I'm a registered Independent, just to get that out of the way -- but those I know who are black conservatives are considered pariahs and are ostracized in our communities, and it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
But this is how -- this is a problem that exists within our community. Because you are from our community, everybody believes that everybody is supposed to be identical to one another, and we can’t display or exercise any kind of versatility, alright, or range in our thinking.
RELATED: Kobe Bryant fires back at Jim Brown, defending his upbringingIt’s a problem that we have to deal with. It’s an internal problem that exists, and we’re going to have to handle it because if we don’t, we’re gonna see more Jim Browns speaking out against more Kobe Bryants, and we’re gonna see more Kobe Bryants retaliating against the likes of Jim Brown.