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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Kenny Smith writes open letter to Charles Barkley about Ferguson


Earlier this week, Charles Barkley made headlines when he referred to the rioters in Ferguson, Mo. as “scumbags” and told CNN there is a reason the police racially profile African-Americans the way that they do. Barkley’s opinion upset one of his colleagues.

On Wednesday, fellow TNT analyst Kenny Smith wrote an open letter to Barkley. You can read the letter in its entirety at For the Win, but here is the main argument Smith made against Barkley’s controversial take.

The question must be asked: Why is there so much distrust in the police and the legal system from the African American community? Without manifesting what the effects of slavery still have today, Dec 1st still marks only 59 years since Rosa Parks sat on that memorable bus. Many of our parents and grandparents have lived through those times and have passed those stories on to all of us. Those civil rights changes were at one time the law! They were not illegal.

So did the protection of the law by the courts and police make it right? Obviously not, so as African Americans we still know and feel that there are laws and jurisdictions that severely penalize the poor and, most importantly, African Americans greater than any other group. Some laws were initially made without us as equals in mind; that’s just the facts. So the thought process that it’s not for us or by us will unfortunately lead to distrust.

That leads me to the looters and civilians burning buildings which you referred to as “scumbags”. Here’s an analogy: If you put 100 people on an island with no food, no water, no hope of a ship coming, then some will overcome it and be resourceful, some will live in it, others will panic and others will show horrific character, which is wrong. But not to understand that all alternatives are possible is wrong as well.

Smith’s thoughts are a bit scattered during parts of the letter, but we get the point he was trying to make. While Kenny and Charles may be friends and agree on a lot of things when it comes to basketball, they’re clearly on opposite sides of the Ferguson debate.

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