Photo credits: CNN News
Retired NBA basketball player and TNT Sports analyst Charles Barkley recently made headlines outside the broadcast booth for his political advocacy and business-related philanthropy.
During and after a successful campaign result this month for U.S. Senator-elect Doug Jones, an Alabama Democratic politician, Barkley was making his voice heard raising awareness about equality. Jones defeated Roy Moore, a former Republican U.S. legislator who made headlines during the recent campaign for his deeply racist remarks.
Moore’s antics infuriated the black voter populace in Alabama and those actions backfired on him after he lost his U.S. Senate seat to Jones. Barkley vocally called attention to this issue and forcefully urged the Democratic Party to stand up for black people, as well as all race groups in America who are in poverty.
After the election, Barkley praised black female voters in particular for showing up in mass again at the polls to unseat Moore and expressed hope about his home state’s political future. Barkley then followed up on his commendable acts of vocal valor by putting his money where his mouth was.
On December 15, 2017, the Atlanta Black Star newspaper published an article, which reported on Barkley’s television announcement that he would make a $1 million-dollar financial contribution to Alabama’s black women for the purpose of launching start-up firms that provide IT services.
However, Barkley’s snide on-air remarks earned him some backlash. Why would the former Olympic basketball champion publicly praise black women and pledge his financial support to them only to slight them at the same time? “I’m pledging one million to black women in Alabama to do start-ups,” Barkley said.
“That do not mean hair salons and restaurants, black women. That means start-ups, black women. We’re going to do IT…IT. That doesn’t mean ‘it’ either,'” the burly NBA Hall of Famer said. Barkley’s antics even earned him a rebuke by his co-panelist Kenny “The Jet” Smith live on the air.
Criticism of black women who currently own businesses in industries like food service and beauty is misguided. There are plenty of black women across America, such as Patientory founder Chrissa McFarlane who are already doing what Barkley is trying help them do in Alabama.
Perhaps it would serve Barkley well to use some literacy and learn more about black women in IT like McFarlane who are excelling rather than close-mindedly accuse them of only wanting to start businesses in what he feels are stereotypical industries.