The majority of Intelligent Black people have no problem with opposing viewpoints in this “discussion,” so the following analysis is not about hushing a dissenting opinion.
This distrust of law enforcement was EARNED. I cannot stress that point enough. This fear, mistrust and even hatred of police is not based in imagined mistreatment of Black people. This is the very important piece that eludes Mr. Barkley. What’s annoying is it seems to be a willful ignorance regarding the history of police in this nation, on the part of Mr. Barkley.
Barkley made it clear that he thinks the people who riot in response to oppression are “scumbags”. I wonder if he feels the same way about the Black people who decided to riot after Malcolm X or MLK was assassinated.
Mr. Barkley is under the illusion that his assimilation into the class of people who are rich removes his “birth-stain”. My opinion: as long as he is towing a line that Rudolph Guiliani and Peter King push about Black people being the reason cops abuse their power when dealing with Black people, he will be trotted out and propped up on CNN for an interview in which his ignorant views will be exploited by the media. It’s a shame he’s too arrogant to realize how he’s being used. The ignorance that is spewed from the mouth of the Guiliani crew is given a false legitimacy when it’s backed up by someone who is Black. This gives White people who are fence-sitting comfort. If Barkley is saying it, then it must be true, so we can carry on with our white privilege.
It isn’t only Charles Barkley who seems to not understand the history of the Black people-police relationship. I’ve watched and read a lot of coverage since the incident in Ferguson, MO. I cannot recall anyone daring to address the blood soaked foundation of this problem between Black people and cops. I cannot recall anyone daring to address the way in which this nation was formed (the near eradication of one population and the enslavement of another). I cannot recall anyone daring to address the reason police officers are so full of fear and therefore completely unable to get out of a squad car on a call and see Black people as actual people – the human being kind of people.
These are the elusive honest conversations that are missing. We, as a nation, cannot continue to address the symptoms of historical mistreatment (racism) of people without acknowledging its root cause. Racism exists. It is not imaginary. It is very much like cancer. You can decide to ignore its symptoms, but eventually it will destroy all it touches.
Again, the problem is not that Mr. Barkley has an unpopular opinion to many in Black communities. It’s his glossing over hundreds of years of and hundreds of thousands of incidents in which Black people have not been served fairly under the Justice System of America. It’s the perception that his words represent the thinking of a significant amount of Black people. Additionally, the man simply isn’t qualified to be a representative of anyone but the people in his own home. Black people are not a monolith. Black people are more than the Barkley/Ben Carson/Larry Elder/Allen West party. Mr. Barkley’s opinion should not be taken as Black Gospel. Mr. Barkley’s opinion should be taken as the opinion of a guy who grew up in Leeds, Alabama, who went on to become rich and famous because he was a great basketball player. He’s never been a researcher. He’s never been a sociologist. He’s never been a teacher. He’s never been an activist. And he’s certainly no historian. Perhaps someone will give him the box DVD set of “Eyes On The Prize” for Christmas, to help him with some historical reference.
Illustration by OogeeWoogee Staff Illustrator, Michael White
Written by Oronde McMullen