By N Oji Mzilikazi
18 July 2016
On the heels of four off-duty Minneapolis police officers working security at a WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx game leaving their posts on account of the players’ wearing pregame warm-up jerseys that carried the message of change, the names of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling who were shot to death by the police, and Black Lives Matter, ESPN sports journalist Bomani Jones delivered commentary that deserves not just acclamation, but being tweeted and retweeted.
Jones made the point: “You are not obligated to speak simply because you are good at doing something with a ball. That can lead you into some disastrous places.”
Time and time again, we’ve been exposed to personalities and celebrities pontificating on subjects and issues in which their understanding borders on the ignorant. But in their mind, and given a platform, they have Solomonic insights. When those persons are Black, their diarrhoea of the mouth becomes hurdles for people of African descent, as well as ammunition for those bent on sustaining inequalities; denying empowerment and social justice for the race.
Just a week ago we were exposed to Wendy Williams asinine comments about Historical Black Colleges and the NAACP.
And who can forget rapper Lupe Fiasco. I certainly cannot.
The election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States created an upswing in anti-Black sentiment and racial hate. Membership in right-wing militias and racist organizations increased exponentially.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, skyrocketed following the election of President Obama in 2008 – rising 813 percent, from 149 groups in 2008 to an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012.”
With Obama becoming P.O.T.U.S., more guns were sold in America than ever before in its history
The sole goal of the Republican Party and Tea baggers was destruction of Obama’s presidency.
Days before Obama’s inauguration, Rush Limbaugh declared, “I hope Obama fails.” Shortly after his inauguration, William Kristol told Republicans to deny Obama making history.
Kristol extoll, they must “find reasons to obstruct and delay. They should do their best not to permit Obama to rush his agenda through this year. They can’t allow Obama to make of 2009 what Franklin Roosevelt made of 1933 or Johnson of 1965.”
In response to the debt ceiling crisis and corresponding debate, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated, “My first choice was to do something important for the country. But my second obligation is to my party” and prevent President Obama from getting re-elected.
Against that background of orchestrated Republican acrimony and racial hate, Lupe Fiasco had the temerity to call President Barack Obama, “the biggest terrorist in the United States of America.”
To compound his ignorance; talk out the side of his neck just because he could, Fiasco avowed, “he doesn’t vote or get involved in politics.”
To reiterate Bomani Jones well-reasoned advice, “You are not obligated to speak simply because you are good at doing something…”
While the attention seeking beast that is social media often demands the sacrifice of astuteness and critical thinking for clicks, one does not always have to voice an opinion when asked or proffer one just to be in the mix — to speak simply because you are good at doing something…Especially, when the issues are race related and/or police related. A lesson NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley has repeated failed to learn.
Charles Barkley is known for his outspokenness on matters of race. His supposed candor is a misnomer. It is new-age minstrelsy and Uncle Tominism passing themselves off as courage to chastise “bad blacks.”
Charles Barkley is as ignorant as they come. See some of my evidenced here, here and here.
The serial offender latest act of “Knee-Growism” is to conflate issues and blame persons of African descent that have been the subject and victims of police barbarity, police racism and police oppression, ever since Africans were forcefully brought to the West — in chains.
In response to the recent shootings of Blacks by the police, Barkley declared, Black people have “to do better.” Then he qualifies it with, “You can’t demand respect from white people and the cops if we don’t respect each other.”
What does disrespect of one Black person to another has to do with the execution of racism by whites and others, the denial of Black humanity by whites and others, the verbal and/or physical abuse police frequently unleash on Blacks, the victimization of innocent Blacks by the police, the murders of Blacks, innocent of a crime at the time by the police, or the articulation that Black Lives Matter?
By Barkley’s logic, a prostitute is in no position to cry or claim rape.
While respect must indeed be inculcated in oneself before one seeks or demand it from others, that sort of respect is more or less on the personal level.
Living in a democratic society automatically comes with a number of espoused values and a number of entrenched rights. For example, the guarantee of equal treatment and equal protection before the law, citizens able to participate fully in the life of State, citizenry being free to live, work, and to pursue their dreams without racial, religious, or sexual let and hindrance — irrespective to one having or not having respect.
Racism, race bias and discrimination undermines the egalitarian principles of democracy. As such, one need not be of unimpeachable character to demand respect/fair treatment from ethnically different members that comprise as well as drive the larger society.
Policing is a public service. The police are paid from the public purse; by the taxes collected from citizens. Hence, the “protect and serve” slogan that’s entwined with policing.
While police officers are expected to be firm, tough, and to apply necessary force, even kill in execution of their duty, they are expected to follow departmental guidelines as to usage of their weapons, be courteous, respectful, and do their jobs in the spirit of fairness and impartiality.
Doing so accord the police with the trust and respect of the public they serve, as well as encourage citizens to be allies in their fight against crime and criminal elements.
Consequently, officers ought not to criminalize the communities they serve, by dismissive of the rights of citizens; opting to trample on them, because they could — and have gotten away with it, or use their weapon as a first rather than a last resort.
Fact: the jeremiad of police abuses, police brutality and unnecessary police killings of First Nations people and people of African descent is extremely long. Subsequently, there is little to no reasons for Blacks to trust and respect the police. Still, the police are expected to respect Blacks.
The Black Lives Matter movement isn’t asking for special treatment of the race or for criminal behaviour by Blacks to be excused, just for the application of fairness.
Without change, the pregnancy of racism, the criminalization of Blacks, racial profiling, habitual race-based police harassment, police brutality and the failure to punish officers over their acts of criminality, make it easier for those marginalised and discriminated against to be predisposed to undermine social stability, to be recruited in gangs, and for cold-hearted criminals, anarchists, terrorists, and cop haters/cop killers like Micah Johnson and Gavin Eugene Long to be birthed.
While many of our individual despair, and by extension that of the race are of our own making, Charles Barkley should be one of the last persons to mouth “we could do better.”
In early 2007, I watched Charles Barkley on Jay Leno defend his gambling losses of millions of dollars. (Barkley excitingly revealed he won $100,000 on the Super Bowl.)
Barkley explained that he was the one that put in the work; that worked his butt off to acquire his money. The inference being it is nobody’s business how he spends his hard-earned money. And lamented that when he made it, one set of “pumpkin-vine” relations came out the woodwork. Ostensibly, looking for handouts.
Inasmuch as his appearance coincided with the financial controversy in the aftermath of Anna Nicole Smith’s death, Barkley’s attitude was more or less, it was better for him to spend his money than have people fighting over it when he is dead.
To hear such perspective coming out of the mouth of Mr. Barkley was mind-boggling and shocking. I immediately lost all respect for Charles Barkley.
I thought my people had longed moved away from that attitude born out of self-contempt and selfishness, or if it resided among us, it was in the souls of lost and much older folks. To hear a young man like Barkley espousing such ignorance…
Money is not just something to spend. Money is a tool, a weapon.
Money has the power to institute change.
Given the well-documented high level of consumerism by Blacks, if we make our money our politics we can build institutions and businesses, enrich community, force change, and take a huge bite out of racism and discrimination.
Barkley publicly revealed on Jay Leno that he wasn’t interested in the intergenerational transfer of property; tangible legacies like land, property, business and money for the next generation to build on – that are essential in the empowerment of a people and community, or contributing to the commonwealth of Blackness.
Barkley expressed he was going to enjoy excess; spend his money as he sees fit — fulfil that “happy go lucky” Black jester stereotype. Is it any wonder Charles Barkley is frequently given the mic?