Teasers for the new Charles Barkley docu-series, American Race, have piqued interest in the show after revealing that white nationalist Richard Spencer was one of the persons interviewed by Barkley in his quest to understand race relations in America.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated about the series, the former NBA star defended his decision to sit down with Spencer. They were joined by civil rights attorney Gerald Griggs of Atlanta in their discussion.
“I am glad we had him on the show because I want to know who my enemies are.”
The NBA analyst gave the alt-right leader credit for agreeing to appear on the show. Barkley pointed out that Spencer is not alone in his line of thinking.
“There are a lot of people who think like him and we don’t even know they are around. I don’t like this dude, obviously, but he doesn’t hide behind it. There are so many people in America who think like him but we don’t know who they are.”
Barkley admitted that it was not an easy decision to feature the controversial Spencer.
“We thought long and hard about it. In the end, we were convinced that it was more important to shine a light.”
He added that by featuring Richard Spencer, he hoped to shine a light on “systematic racism and subtle things on the margin that people are not always aware of.”
— Gerald A. Griggs (@AttorneyGriggs) May 8, 2017
As Awful Announcing recapped, Spencer expressed his hope to “expand and deepen white privilege” and his belief that white Americans will “become a minority” within his lifetime.
Richard Spencer has been described as a clean-cut version of old-school white supremacists. As the Inquisitr reported earlier this year, Spencer used the momentum behind Donald Trump’s shocking election victory to advance his views and beliefs.
— Gerald A. Griggs (@AttorneyGriggs) May 1, 2017
For the series, Barkley traveled across the country to investigate racial interactions in four American cities; Atlanta, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and Irving, Texas.
In that same Sports Illustrated interview, Barkley said that continued “negative stereotypes of minorities on television” were the catalyst for the project.
“If you are black on television, you are probably going to be some kind of thug, gangster or portrayed in a negative light. If you are some type of Muslim, you are going to be blowing stuff up. If you are Hispanic you are going to be some type of gangbanger. I’ve felt like this for years.”
According to the show’s official website, Barkley will cover topics ranging from “police and race relations, Muslims in America, immigration issues, and Hollywood stereotyping.”
Some of those interviewed for the project include Ice Cube, Korean-American rapper Dumbfoundead, Baltimore attorney William H. Murphy, and Texas restaurant owner Sharmina Zaidi.
While Barkley’s intentions may have been good, some have questioned whether or not Barkley was the right person to host the series.
In their review of the series, The Root compared Barkley to a family member that no one wants to discuss important issues with at family gatherings; instead, limiting your conversations to “sports, Gap Band songs and brown liquor.”
The article pointed out that Barkley’s previous comments on the subject of police and race relations, as well as his ongoing criticisms of the black community, showed that Barkley lacked credibility to be a fair and positive voice for African Americans.
Reaction on Twitter appeared to back up The Root’s assessment.
VERY disappointed that TNT would put someone as out of touch with the entire human race as Barkley to host this show. Yuck#AmericanRaceTNT
— Crystal V. Bussey (@The6thWoman) April 30, 2017
Charles Barkley is a terrible representative 2 speak on Race. Do better TNT…???? #AmericanRaceTNT
— Porcha 3000 (@LHD5Girl) May 2, 2017
Charles Barkley is ill-equipped to handle all of this. Would have been a better series with someone else at the helm. #AmericanRaceTNT
— Ruben Ibarra (@chicitybulls09) May 8, 2017
For his part, Barkley said he expects there will be a backlash from the series but he’s prepared for it.
The series will air the first two episodes tonight on TNT. The network will air the remaining two episodes tomorrow night. For those who can’t wait, the show is currently available for viewing on TNT’s website.
What do you think? Was Charles Barkley a good choice to host a series focused on the topic of race relations in America? Should he have interviewed Richard Spencer? Will you watch American Race?
[Featured Image by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TNT]