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Charles Barkley and Being Black

It is very rare that I  follow sports, much less write about sports figures.  But every once in a while, something pops up that I can’t help but scribble down a few thoughts.   And leave it to former NBA star Charles Barkley to make that possible.

During an interview with a radio station in Philadelphia,  Barkley made a comment regarding Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.   Wilson apparently has been getting grief from some of his fellow black players because he wasn’t considered “black” enough; either because they think he’s too close to management or he doesn’t speak English like it was his second language.

I am not making this up.

CNN quotes Barkley as saying  “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 ’cause they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful. It’s crabs in a barrel. … We’re the only ethnic group that says, ‘hey, if you go to jail, it gives you street cred.’ “

He then went on to say, “For some reason we’re 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. I hate to bring white people into our crap, but as a black person, we all go through it when you’re successful.”

Barkley’s comments have caused a firestorm in black media,  mainly because he is correct and the truth hurts.

I can speak about this from personal experience.  For some reason, there is a segment of the black population that thinks a good job, good diction and good credit are clear signs that you have been corrupted by the white man. And don’t even entertain the idea of being married to the person with whom you decide to procreate before you do the procreating.

There is an old Chris Rock joke that says if you’re black and get your M.A. or M.S. degree you’re a pariah, but get out of jail and they’ll throw you a party.

This is sad, but unfortunately it’s true.   I had no idea that being well-spoken and well-educated meant you were “acting white”.  I always thought it meant you were acting like an intelligent human being.

Hat tip to Sir Charles.

  • malercous

    Bill Cosby catches shade whenever he expresses the same sentiment. too. Education isn’t just a white thing, many Asians seem to value it too. Funny thing is that one never hears smart and/or successful people talking down education.

  • CMarie

    I guess I run in different circles then you or Charles because this is not my overwhelming experience as an educated black woman. Sure there are those people with this mentality in all races. But you feed a stereotype by throwing all black people on this same bus. Whether it’s the front or the back. I live in a predominantly black neighborhood and own rentals in one as well. I find most people want education and a better life but don’t know the proper ways to get there. They end up using the shortcuts they have see their whole lives: theft, drugs, prostitution,etc. I grew up in a household where both of my parents were educated. It made it easier for me to choose that path though it still took me time.