Barkley Is Right: Why It Doesn’t Matter
Charles Barkley made what some found to be interesting comments on reports emanating from the Seattle Seahawks locker room that certain players felt quarterback Russell Wilson was “not black enough”. I am not going to address the reasons why because the whole notion is silly on it’s face. (Can you be too black, or not black at all?) Furthermore, Barkley’s claims are the standard “black people are their own worst enemies” and, “they are like crabs in a barrel” particularly referring to those black people who are reported to be deemed “not black enough” reportedly because they are purported to have certain attributes that will allow them to be successful. Of course these characteristics of success are deemed to be “acting white”.
You’re Not _____ Enough
I say standard because we have heard this refrain before. Yes, some black people feel that other black people who speak and act a certain way feel that those black people are “not black enough” This is not hard or difficult to acknowledge, nor is it some secret. The secret is apparently that people don’t realize that some Latino people don’t think people are “latino enough“, or some Asian people don’t think other Asian people are “asian enough“. Finally, and prepare to be shocked, some white people feel that other white people are not “white enough“.
Again, characteristics attributed towards “acting white” as being those leading to success are in and of themselves problematic for it ignores both the question of who determines success and the effects of cultural appropriation. What does it mean to “act white”? For that matter, what does it mean to “act Asian”, “act latino”, “act black” etc.? I’m certainly not a post racialist, but I don’t think we have a definitive list of traits of what it means “to be” black, white, asian, latino, etc.
Love Barkley, But He’s Not Important
Barkley is rich, successful, and well liked. He was giving his opinion on a topic that was neither controversial nor unknown. What the focus on his comments show is, that in spite of our proclamations, we are still focused on race as a society. This is to be expected as we are less than 50 years from the end of legalized Apartheid in the country, a mere blink of the eye in terms of history. This notion will erode over time as integration takes effect. The focus and fight remains on ensuring equal protection under the law for all citizens with regards to housing, employment, education, and financing. The Civil Rights Movement got the laws on the books, now citizens have to use the political process to make sure it’s practiced in reality. Nothing else matters as far as improving race relations without having true equality.