Why do we still pay attention to Charles Barkley?

barkleyCharles Barkley is right in saying he isn’t Uncle Tom. Give credit to Uncle Tom for at least having some level of education, after all.

Barkley, as white America’s new favorite black guy, now that Bill Cosby has been disgraced, is Stepin Fetchit.

Want to be entertained by a stream of slow wit? Barkley’s your man, if you consider his brand of gibberish packaged as commentary on professional basketball entertaining. His delivery is as clunky as his well-chronicled awful, horrendous golf swing, but he says just enough off-the-wall stuff among the grunts and groans to keep himself employed.

He maintains his relevance as a social commentator, and yes, it is painful to have to write that sentence, considering, by giving white America what it wants to hear, and he did it again this week in media interviews about the fallout from the decision of a Missouri grand jury against indicting a police officer who shot an unarmed black teen.

“The true story came out from the grand jury testimony,” said Barkley, who later admitted not having read the grand jury testimony, which of course provided copious detail into how Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson gunned down 18-year-old Michael Brown.

The decision of the grand jury justifies itself, we have to believe from listening to Barkley, who also advises us to be careful with cops, because if we’re not, we’d be living in “the Wild, Wild West.”

To that, OK, Charles, point well made. Cops go rogue and kill a kid for stealing cigarettes, them’s the wages of sin, right?

“We as black people, we have a lot of crooks. We can’t just wait until something like this happens. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror,” Barkley said. “There is a reason that they racially profile us in the way they do. Sometimes it is wrong, and sometimes it is right.”

This, of course, is what the Fox News set, the middle-class, conservative white folks who go out of their way to watch Glenn Beck, want to hear a black man say. Cops don’t kill innocent people; if a cop kills you, with a gun or with a chokehold, you probably deserved it.

The Uncle Tom of literature was beaten to death after refusing to betray two runaway slaves; Charles Barkley is going out of his way to throw every black person in America under the nearest bus. Bad analogy, trying to bring together those two.

Stepin Fetchit was a role played by an accomplished actor and writer who after early success with the trickster character fell out of favor with white audiences and became a depressing, grotesque caricature of himself in his later years.

Meaning that Barkley is a few steps looking up at even being Stepin Fetchit, which is wholly depressing considering how much cultural relevance this guy, for some reason, still seems to have.

– Column by Chris Graham


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