Former NBA superstar Charles Barkley has been very outspoken about the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
In a nutshell, Barkley agreed with the grand jury that there wasn’t enough evidence to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Brown.
Barkley’s position on the matter drew criticism from many folks within the African American community, including Kenny Smith, his cohost on TNT’s Inside the NBA, who penned an open letter in USA Today responding to Barkley’s comments.
In the letter Smith traced the apparent schism between black communities and local police departments back through the civil rights movement and all the way to slavery — something Barkley disagreed with.
Here’s how Barkley responded, in part, in an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic:
Well, Mike, every time something bad happens in the black community, we can’t bring up slavery. I totally disagree with that. And you know, rioting doesn’t accomplish anything. And you know, to criticize me for using the word ‘scumbag’ or crooks or anything, I’m not going to get into the hyperbole over one word. But I did not like the fact that he brought up slavery. That is ridiculous to bring up slavery, there’s not a slave alive who knows anything about Michael Brown or Ferguson, Mo. I think that was disingenuous.
Listen man, I know that I’m black and I’m always going to be. I know anytime I disagree with black people I’m going to be a sell-out or an Uncle Tom. But I’m gonna try to always be fair, I’m going to judge everyone on their own merits. And like I said, as a black man I do understand that racism exists. It does exist. It always has and always will. And there are black racists also. I was taken back by the slavery comment.
He called me and asked if he could write the letter and I said ‘sure.’ I’m not offended that people disagree with me. As long as we’re having an open dialogue. We should be having an open dialogue about the cops, the black community, we clearly have to do better, we gotta do a better job of policing ourselves. I don’t blame all my ills on white folks, that’s just ridiculous.
What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Barkley?