Retired basketball star Kobe Bryant made history as the first black person to win an Oscar for Best Animated Short during the 90th Academy Awards. Bryant received the statuette for his film, Dear Basketball, and although his win was a win for black history, anger erupted on social media following the announcement.
The backlash arose due to Bryant's previous rape allegations, something brought into sharp relief in the era of Weinstein, #MeToo and #TimesUp.
For background context, Bryant was accused of rape by a 19-year-old hotel employee back in 2003. Bryant called the encounter consensual, and the matter was eventually settled out of court after Bryant publicly apologized.
“Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did,” Bryan said previously according to ESPN. “After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter.”
Given that incident, folks took to Twitter to express their grievances with his win:
Basketball— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) March 5, 2018
people say that rape allegations will ruin a man’s life but here is Kobe winning an Oscar in front of my own eyes— Aminatou Sow (@aminatou) March 5, 2018
Oh look, Kobe Bryant is on the #Oscars stage after being accused of a brutal rape. Guess we still have a long way to go.
— Andrea L. Pino (@andreactually) March 5, 2018
Let me get this straight. Last night's theme was all about treating women with respect. So who wins an #Oscar2018? @kobebryant, who was credibly accused of rape, paid the accuser a settlement and issued her a written apology! Can't make this up?
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) March 5, 2018
Only in Hollywood, where you can have an #Oscars theme all about the #MeToo movement & simultaneously give an award to Kobe Bryant, who paid a settlement, & apologized in a rape case against him.
Tinsel town is a nothing but a bunch of overpaid, big mouth hypocrites! pic.twitter.com/KnJZqo22Cs
— Lisa Smith (@lsmith4680) March 5, 2018
Bryant has not responded to those upset about his win; according to CBS Sports, however, the ex-Laker did say that winning an Oscar "feels better than winning the championship."