Sportscaster and NBA Hall of Fame member Charles Barkley attracted fierce backlash on Wednesday after an ESPN interview covering race in America.
Radio host Dan Le Batard asked the basketball great to comment on the July 7 Dallas shooting by 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson that killed five cops, as well as the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. Mr. Barkley said cops make “mistakes,” but he soon came under online fire for critiquing black America.
“Why don’t black people get mad when we kill each other? I’m not trying to deflect or place blame. That’s just a fact,” said Mr. Barkley.
“That’s not true, Charles,” the host replied.
“It is true, Dan. First of all, you’re not black. We don’t have near the outrage we do when a white cop kills somebody. Dan, I’ve been black my whole life. Most black people I know are killed by other black people. I never understood why there’s not this moral outrage the way we treat each other as black people.”
“It can be both, Charles,” Le Batard said.
“It can be both,” said Mr. Barkely. “Dan, first of all, if you’re going to sit on TV and say it’s the same moral outrage when black people kill each other and white people kill each other, that’s just disingenuous on your part.”
A wave of condemnation soon followed on social media.
“Charles Barkley is like OJ Simpson,” wrote Hakeem Pittman on the radio show’s Facebook page. “He thinks he’s not black anyway. Let him do something wrong [and] they’re going to treat him the same way. He’ll be just another [racial slur]!”
“I think the white media have Barkley on TV to irritate black people,” added Raymond Chambers.
“I wish these retired players [would] shut up. His era was nothing but happy slaves. Stick to sports he loves, Massa,” said Rob Nelson.
Mr. Barkely said his opinions have been shaped by multiple conversations with his bodyguard, who was a black cop.
“I’m not saying they should racially profile guys,” the sportscaster said. “I’m saying we can’t jump to conclusions every time, like it’s because a guy is black. First of all, there is racial profiling, there’s always been racism, and first of all, there’s racism on both sides. Let’s get that straight.”