Paul R. Lehman, Charles Barkley comments on dirty dark secretNovember 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm | Posted in African American, American Dream, American history, blacks, Charles Barkley, Civil War, equality, ethnic stereotypes, identity, President, skin color, skin complexion, Slavery, The Oklahoman, whites | 2 Comments
Tags: African American, Barkley, black, black and white, Charles Barkley, current-events, ethnicity, European Americans, group identity, identity, President Obama, race, Russell Wilson, The Oklahoman, white
The Oklahoman published recently (10/31/2014) some comments by Charles Barkley entitled “Barkley exposes ‘dirty secret.’ The comments were from an interview Barkley did with a Philadelphia radio station. What spurred the comments was when Barkley was asked about NFL player Russell Wilson being told by some of his teammates that he was not “black enough.” Although we certainly respect Barkley right to freedom of speech, we also recognize the responsibility to comment on his statement.
For example, Barkley stated that “’we as black people, we’re never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people.’” Barkley assumed that so-called black people represent a monolith and exists with certain stereotypical characteristics. That assumption is false. Barkley never defines who black people are and if they receive their identity from their skin color or from some other source. What is obvious from his statement is that Barkley still holds on to the false belief in multiple biological races, like black and white. Those races exist in society as illusions, but many people hold on to them like they do the Tooth Fairy.
Barkley stated next that “’When you’re black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people.’” That statement would hold true regardless of ones identity. He continued “’It’s a dirty dark secret, I’m glad it’s coming out. It comes out every few years.’” What is not a secret is that children will ridicule other children for a variety of reasons; they do it constantly, but not necessarily for reasons of skin color or group membership.
Barkley noted that in his book stated that “…when young black kids, when they do well in school, the loser kids tell them ‘Oh you’re acting white.’ The kids who speak intelligently, they tell them ‘you’re acting white. So it’s a dirty dark secret in the black community.’”While we do not doubt Barkley’s sincerity, we cannot help but take note of how he sees society in black and white, and how that colors his perception of things. He speaks of the ‘black community’ as if it exists in some homogenous state, which it does not. He also gives some African American students little or no credit in recognizing that the criticism come from ‘loser kids’ and should not be taken seriously. The schools and the parents certainly play a part in determining the child’s well-being and underscoring the fact that negative stereotypes of African American experiences are not to be valued.
Barkley continued “One reason we’re never going to be successful as a whole is because of other black people. For some reason we are 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 intelligently, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person.’”What Barkley is speaking of here is the gap in education, social and economic levels that exist in society and covers people of all skin complexions. The only group to make it will be the human race of which we are all a part. Black has never been defined, so to use it as a unifying social term is false. The continued use of the terms black and white goes back to the days of American slavery where the two races were created. The brainwashing came into being when the slave masters associated power, privilege, superiority, and arrogance with being European American (white). African Americans were brainwashed into believing what their slave masters and society forced them to accept about themselves. After slavery, laws were created to keep the former slaves ignorant. The result can be seen today in Barkley’s comments about white being better.
What does not come out in Barkley’s comments is the concern of those who identify themselves as black; they are ignorant, fearful, intimidated, and insecure. First, they are ignorant of themselves and history; if they were aware of history, they would know of the many contributions made by African American men and women who overcame great obstacles to make a mark in society and our world. The list is too long to include, but we only have to look around to recognize them from the President, to the Attorney General, to company and corporation heads and even prominent sport commentators like Barkley.
They are fearful because they want all the people to identify with one group, blacks. And when they see someone who they believe is achieving more success than the group permits, they fear loosing members of the group. To them, it is important to keep the group together, so when someone appears to be moving beyond the borders, they try to pull then back in by appealing to an identity—“you’re not black enough.”
In addition to being fearful, the loser also feels intimidated by the African American who is perceived as getting ahead. Having a group identity for some people creates a feeling of safety and unity because everyone is thought to be the same. When it appears that one is exceeding his bounds and enjoying success at a new level, it creates a feeling of separation from the one who is still at the former level. In essence, the one who is moving upwards is viewed as leaving the group and by doing so, becomes better than those in the group. Hence, the intimidation.
Group membership and identity promotes a variety of concerns like, loyalty, dedication, unity, and security. When individuals thought to be group members appear to be moving away from the group, the comfort and security of the group comes into question. Barkley stated that “’This debate is funny. We’re the only race that tells people if you…have street cred—that means you’ve been arrested—that’s a compliment. We’re the only ethnic group that say ‘Hey if you go to jail, that gives you street cred.’” Barkley is mistaken by placing all African Americans into a group and assuming that they all walk in lock-step. Any rational person knows that all people are individuals, and yes, we are part of the environment in which we were raised, but that does not define us. The real secret is that no one wants to be defined by ignorance and stupidity which is what the losers represent.