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This is what Charles Barkley said on a sports radio show in regard to the pervasive belief of not Black enough:

We as Black people are never going to be successful, not because of you White people, but because of other Black people. When you are Black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other Black people.

“For some reason we are brainwashed to think, if you’re not a thug or an idiot, you’re not Black enough. If you go to school, make good grades, speak intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good Black person. It’s a dirty, dark secret in the Black community.

“There are a lot of Black people who are unintelligent, who don’t have success. It’s best to knock a successful Black person down because they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful. It’s just typical BS that goes on when you’re Black, man.”

I will agree with Barkley that “you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people.” I also believe that this does not exclude Charles Barkley, who most ironically is complaining about crap-given by Black people while he is, in fact, giving crap to Black people. Therefore if he wants the crap-giving to stop, he should have probably just answered that question with a “no comment.” But everybody thinks their crap-giving doesn’t stink…

Outside of who is shoveling the most shit here, it is the next few statements in which he really lost me. In particular, the idea that the smart Black kid, who got good grades, didn’t break the law and wasn’t a thug, was somehow ostracized outside of the community. I don’t know where this lie started, but folks really need to stop saying this silly mess.

From my own personal experience (since it is okay for Barkley to offer his as fact), it is a rarity to come across a Black household in this country (hell in the entire Black Diaspora including the continent), which does not teach the value of education as a way “out” and “up.” And according to the numbers, Black women specifically are the most likely to enroll in college than all other ethnic and gender groups in the entire country. We are also the most likely to read a book. Likewise the idea that there are more Black men in prison than in college has been largely debunked and actually determined to be the other way around.

Again, purely anecdotal experience, I don’t know a single Black mom, dad, aunt, uncle, pastor, youth counselor, and even hard-headed cousin who isn’t telling Black kids to go get an education? And if I can think of a family or two, who might fit Barkley’s profile, in no way do they reflect the grand majority of Black families I have come into contact with. Not even within low-income communities. As noted by the nationally education leadership organization Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, or ASCD in a report on it’s website called The Myth of the Culture of Poverty:

MYTH: Poor parents are uninvolved in their children’s learning, largely because they do not value education.

The Reality: Low-income parents hold the same attitudes about education that wealthy parents do (Compton-Lilly, 2003; Lareau & Horvat, 1999; Leichter, 1978). Low-income parents are less likely to attend school functions or volunteer in their children’s classrooms (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005)—not because they care less about education, but because they have less access to school involvement than their wealthier peers. They are more likely to work multiple jobs, to work evenings, to have jobs without paid leave, and to be unable to afford child care and public transportation. It might be said more accurately that schools that fail to take these considerations into account do not value the involvement of poor families as much as they value the involvement of other families.”

And when have Black people not celebrated graduations? Perhaps he had not seen this video of an excited and emotional Black mother catching the Holy Ghost (or just a bad case of the “y’all don’t know what I’ve been through to get that boy across the stage”-itis) over her first born graduating high school. Hell, as much as we love bragging about our HBCU affiliations as well as what Ivy League we did our graduate studies at, you would have a better time convincing me that Black people were actually White people in disguise than the idea that we don’t value education. Or even individual success. Jay Z, Oprah, Beyonce, Barack Obama, Tiger Woods (even though he don’t claim us), Barkley…who doesn’t like a successful Black person?

In fact, I hear more Black people being chastised by other Black people for sounding and being stereotypically Black and not possessing all the markers of successful and educated than I have ever seen over the smart Black kid. In fact, I don’t ever recall hearing a single joke or seeing a single meme on the internet about those with good jobs, grades and dictions. I’ve never recalled anyone making fun of doctors or lawyers or teachers even. It just does not happen.

However, I have seen memes and jokes about all the ghetto and ratchet Black folks though. And that includes: the thugs and welfare queens; those who can’t spell well; those who dress and look cheap; those with multiple children; those with missing teeth…Basically the lowly and down-trodden.

Again, I don’t deny that at times, Black folks give each other a hard time. But there’s also racism and the more detrimental and pervasive idea that Black people are inferior to White people. That belief system, right there, is the root of our angst, inequality, injustice and struggle in this country. What that means is that no amount of pulling the pants up and college degrees will shield us from the harsh realities of discrimination – I don’t care if you are a trash man, trying to be the first (or only one of a very few) Black supervisors at a waste management facility or the president of the United States trying to pass laws in the White House.

Therefore it can’t be Black folks holding you back when we are all kind of stuck under the same oppression. It’s kind of like that wooden barrel: Everybody likes to go in on the crabs clawing at, and climbing over, each other to get out of the barrel, but rarely do we talk about the barrel. And why are there crabs in there to begin with?

Also who in the hell put Charles Barkley in the “speak intelligent” column? This is the same loud mouth blowhard, who most recently said that the verdict was right in the George Zimmerman trial because Black people are racists too. If you ask me, most times we give the “successful” in our culture too much consideration, particularly from the media. And we would be likely served if, as a community, we looked to less to the notable and “successful” and more to those, who know what the hell they are talking about.

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