By Victor Ochieng
TNT, like several other stations, give high profile Black celebrities platforms to articulate issues on race. And this time, the station gave sports analyst Charles Barkley its “The Race Card” series so he could talk about race and police brutality in America.
However, what came out of his Baltimore tour proved that the former basketball sensation is completely out of touch with the challenges African Americans are facing. Barkley was at a Baltimore church with the mission of bridging the gap between the Black community and the police, all in a bid to foster a better working relationship between the two factions.
Unfortunately, Barkley took the whole time to side with the police, even going as far as belittling the mother of the Black man who was choked by police officers.
Like many others, Gray-Hopkins, a woman who lost her 19-year-old son at the hands of the police in 1999, went to the church with the hope that she’d hear inspirational words on how to make things better in America. However, she says Barkley’s talk was a disappointment.
“I don’t think he really came here to listen to the people,” said Gray-Hopkins. “He [Barkley] is in his own world. What I came here to do tonight was to validate what I thought about him. And all he did was validate me.”
In a recklessly worded statement, Barkley expressed concern that the Black community was quick to support Black families that lose their lives at the hands of officers, but didn’t say anything about the police officers who were shot in a separate incident. There was also the case of a police officer who was fatally shot in San Antonio while writing a traffic ticket.
“Did anybody say, ‘Man, I feel bad for their family?” asked Barkley. “There was no love [for police] in this room.”
Then the mother of, Tyrone West, the young man who died at the hands of the police in 2013 after being chocked, jumped up and said, “I don’t know you, I don’t like you,” castigating Barkley for siding with the police. But still, Barkley didn’t back down or empathize with her for her loss.
In response, Barkley said, “I’m sorry for your loss,” then added, “As far as you not liking me, it really doesn’t bother me. I’m used to it. I’m like the homecoming queen. All the ugly girls hate you. That’s part of my life. I never take anything personally.”
Someone of Barkley’s caliber should’ve found a better way to communicate with the woman instead of insinuating that the woman didn’t like him because he’s rich and famous.
Barkley chided Black activists, claiming that they don’t speak up when cops are killed by rogue citizens. But that argument shows that TNT picked the wrong man for the job. It became apparent that Barkley neither knew the activists nor the things they do.