While listening to Charles Barkley’s latest rant about how much he can’t stand Negros, I had sort of a revelation about the type of Black person, who makes disparaging remarks about the Black community.
Yes, it is a revelation beyond the more obvious observation that Black folks, who make disparaging remarks about the Black community are just sad and pitiful…
If you haven’t heard Barkley’s latest critical race theory, you can listen to it right here. But in short, Barkley offered his opinion about the grand jury decision not to indict former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and with little surprise, he agreed with the grand jury. He also called the Ferguson protestors “scumbags” and said that without the police, Black neighborhoods would be like the “wild, wild West.”
At this point I should mention, Barkley’s attacks on the Black community are getting pretty redundant. And I was really close to ignoring him and all the silliness he had to say, until I reached the portion of his screed where he called out the Black community for “jumping to conclusions”about Wilson’s guilt. In particular he told the Philadelphia radio host:
“They should not do that Mike [the host]. They don’t jump to the conclusions when Black people kill each other. It’s like part of their everyday life. Mike, you know I’m in Philadelphia all summer. It makes me sad, every single day, when I see this Black-on-Black crime. I mean it really makes me sad. Like I said, I’m in Philadelphia all summer – you know that, I’m there four months a year. It really makes me sad, every single day. Not one day. Not Monday. Not Wednesday. Every single day Black-on-Black crime is an epidemic and nobody goes crazy.”
Nobody cares. Not even Sir Charles himself.
And therein lies my Oprah Winfrey a-ha moment: If Barkley is in Philly, my home and current town, for four months out of every single year (I’m guessing since his days as power forward for the Sixers), where he at tho?
No seriously, I’m not trying to act like some major socialite or mover or shaker, but I don’t recall seeing or hearing his name around town, no single where. Not in the newspapers. Not on local television and definitely not within the local community. I mean, while it is true that the brothers and sisters do run the city and there are lots of us representing population-wise, Black Philly is only but so big. And no celebrity of his status could be anywhere without it being told by every gossipy lip in town.
Why, the way Barkley is out here running his mouth about being in Philly every summer, you’d think he was out here leading anti-violence rallies and pull your pants up parades. Barkley talks about how “nobody cares” like he is some old man block captain, who is out in the neighborhood every Saturday morning, sweeping up litter and fussing at the kids for dropping their potato chip bags and other trash in the street. Barkley talks about being “sad” about Black-on-Black crime like he thought of himself as an actual role model, which he doesn’t.
In fact, the last and probably only charitable thing I can recall, off-hand, of Barkley doing for the Black community was the time he paid for the funeral of this mother and two children, who had been savagely killed by two carjackers. A good and truly respectable act indeed. In fact, it should be mentioned that in general, the Hall of Famer is or has been involved with donating to number of charities specifically around cancer and other health research. He has served as an honorary chair member several times and participated in celebrity fundraisers. He even had a Foundation, which doesn’t appear to be active anymore. And he has plenty of individual donations, including $100,000 to the victims of South Lake Tahoe’s 2007 Angora Fire.
However very few of his charitable efforts involve him fixing any of the so-called problems (he is so fond of pointing out) within the Black community. Barkley has no presence in the community. None. He is not building schools or even supermarkets, like some other lesser known celebrities. (I’m hinting at Wendell Pierce.) And he is not creating jobs, like his fellow NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. In fact, it is quite clear that Barkley really doesn’t see himself as part of the community at all. Even within his latest rant exists a peculiar admonishing of “they” and “their” as if he is somehow excluded from the collective “Black people” problems – or more importantly, the collective responsibility to fix it.
And that is kind of the common annoying thread among many vocal Black dissidents of any movement, which aims to get justice for Black people, particularly around law enforcement. They yell and scream about what Black people ain’t got together or what Black people ain’t doing and how Black people need to focus on some other issue first, but offer up no receipts to their own commitment to the cause(s).
Folks like Barkley truly believe that the marching and the mentoring and petitioning and the cleaning and the beautifying and the reforming and the organizing and the fixing of community’s problems are all the jobs of other people. And they are just there as helpful critics, reminding “them” how to do it better. When in reality, White institutionalized violence against Black people is a problem. Black on Black crime is a problem. The sorry state of public education is a problem. The lack of parental involvement is a problem. The school to prison pipeline is a problem. There are many problems and enough work for everyone in the community to lay claim. And if folks like Barkley truly feel that “they” aren’t doing enough to address Black on Black crime then by all means Black man, get out there and show “them” how it is all done.
And no, your personal achievements don’t count. Not when we all can admit that there is just so much work, which needs to be done. Not when you seek to hold “them” responsible for “holding us back” – or more accurately keeping some folks from fully fitting in with White folks. We are our brothers and sisters’ keeper. Every major religious book tells us so. And if anybody sounds lazy or like they are holding us back here, it’s the ones trying to get themselves out of work by deflecting responsibility for their inactivity onto the shoulders of “those people.”