“Anything Less Would Be Uncivilized”: Sir Charles Comments upon the Black Community

Although I tend to believe in the freedom of speech that this nation rests upon, history has proven it to be a veritable two-edged sword that must be handled delicately. The freedom of speech is quite simply a blessing and a curse to those who handle it haphazardly. The latest to prove this reality is former NBA All-Star and quite possibly the possessor of the world’s ugliest golf swing, Sir Charles Barkley.

During a recent radio interview on the “Afternoons with Anthony Gargano and Rob Ellis” show, Sir Charles Barkley attempted to offer commentary upon the persisting socioeconomic inequities Barkleyseparating Black and white Americans. Sir Charles relates the following,

We as black people are never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. When you are black, you have to deal with so much crap in your life from 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 intelligent, and don’t break the law, you’re not a good black person. It’s a dirty, dark secret in the black community. 

There are a lot of black people who are unintelligent, who don’t have success. It’s best to knock a successful black person down because they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful. It’s just typical BS that goes on when you’re black, man.”

Although there is much that I could counter Barkley’s rather unwise commentary with such as the catalyst behind African-American socioeconomic marginality, structural racism, and the list goes on and on, the truth of the matter is that although Sir Charles’ thoughts are muddled and oversimplify a very complex and Young Thug 2dynamic process, the undertone is valid. That being, in today’s highly competitive global market place, African-Americans have lagged behind for many reasons, however, many of those reasons would be ameliorated if the vast majority of African-American parents made educational pursuits the single-greatest investment in their children’s future.

Despite what many “traditional” Negro leaders such as Jesse Jackson have propagated, there is not a darn thing wrong with African-Americans other than their decision making skills and priorities. As an educator I see it on a daily basis, there is a relatively small segment of my students who truly “GET IT”, meaning they are serious about earning an education and are not merely seeking the most efficient way to receive a passing grade without either learning anything or working at all.

Unbeknownst to these students, the world is passing them by and even there own have tired of their pitiful act. Unbeknownst to the outside world there is a significant segment of African-Americans who heard Malcolm X, The Honorable Louis Farrakhan, Booker T. BTW2Washington, and Marcus Garvey when they told them to direct all of their energies toward doing for self without any expectation of outsiders to help them. Today such individuals have adopted Outkast’s ode to self-efficiency “Git up, Git Out” as their national anthem for their less than successful brethren. The chorus of this song goes as follows,

Nigga you need to git up git out and git something
Don’t let the days of your life pass by
You need to git up git out and git something
Don’t spend all your time tryin to get high
You need to git up git out and git something
How will you make it if you never even try
You need to git up git out and git something
Cuz you and I got to do for you and I.

It should be this mantra that frightens those Blacks who have chosen to allow life to pass them by. Although Sir Charles Barkley oversimplified this matter tremendously, the spirit of what he gm6stated remains true. We must demand that our children ‘git up and git out’ as our ancestors died for them to have these opportunities.

I am certain that our ancestors roll in their graves each time one of their descendants allows an opportunity that they could not have imagined pass them by. We must take agency for our own community and work collectively to improve it, anything less, in the words of Charles Barkely, “would be uncivilized.”

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

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