Charles Barkley has a message for those who criticized his Ferguson comments: “Some people are going to agree with me, and some people are going to kiss my a**.”
The former NBA star created a lot of buzz previously when he called the Ferguson looters “scumbags,” and praised the police for maintaining order in black neighborhoods.
Barkley’s original comments were made on a Philadelphia sports radio station following violent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, after a grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. Barkley is also on record as agreeing with the Ferguson grand jury.
Last night on TNT’s Inside the NBA pre-game show before the Cavaliers-Knicks matchup, host Ernie Johnson gave the Barkley and his colleagues the floor to discuss Ferguson rather than basketball.
Also on the panel were regulars Kenny Smith (who authored an open letter disagreeing to some degree with his good friend Chuck about Ferguson in USA Today) and Shaquille O’Neal.
Yesterday on the same Philadelphia radio outlet, Barkley explained that agree or disagree, he appreciated the open dialogue about race, and the only issue he had with the Smith essay related to referencing the legacy of slavery.
“Every time something bad happens in the black community, we can’t bring up slavery. I totally disagree with that… there’s not a slave alive who knows anything about Michael Brown or Ferguson, Mo. I think that was disingenuous… 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…”
No stranger to controversy, Barkley made news in October by suggesting that street cred, including thug-like behavior, has become more important in some black communities than success. In July 2013, the former Philadelphia 76er and Phoenix Suns star said that based on the evidence, the George Zimmerman not guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin murder case was fair even though he believed racial profiling had occurred in the confrontation.
In the follow-up on the TNT network, Barkley acknowledged that maybe “scumbags” was a poor choice of words, “but it’s irrelevant, still there is no justification for what they did. If I’d have said crooks, thugs or whatever, still, what they did was 100 percent wrong.”
As far as the grand jury decision, Barkley reaffirmed, “When I looked at the grand jury testimony, I know something bad happened, and I say I understand, whether you agree or disagree, I understand why they did not indict the officer. But there’s no excuse for those people burning down their houses and setting the police cars on fire. … We got a lot of race-baiters out there, and my goal in life is to, being from Alabama, always have an open fair dialogue on race.”
Watch the pre-game show footage embedded below and draw your own conclusions.
Smith noted among other things that there is a lack of trust in the African-American community, a community hampered by poor economic conditions, the police, and the court system. Barkley agreed, adding, however, that all races find themselves in the same predicament because of a flawed economic system. But earlier in the discussion, Sir Charles declared that “you can’t compound the situation by getting involved with law enforcement or committing crimes, because then you’re part of the judicial system.”
Shaquille O’Neal, who is reserve sheriff’s deputy, chimed in that Charles used some harsh language in his original remarks, but also that every encounter between a cop and a citizen is not racial.
Earlier in the discussion, Barley insisted, “We, as black people, need the cops in our community. They’re not there just to quote-unquote kill black men, they’re there to protect us, and we, as black people, we have got to develop a relationship with them.”
Barkley also insisted that the grand jury in the Eric Garner case should have charged the NYPD officer with manslaughter or aggravated assault.
In concluding the not particularly explosive, as it were, TNT exchange, the basketball Hall of Famer suggested that he could have taken the easy or popular way out by just denouncing the cops. That’s when he punctuated the discussion by suggesting his detractors could smooch his derriere.
Do you think Charles Barkley’s Ferguson comments are constructive or destructive, or somewhere in between?
[photo credit: Gallery 2 Images]