(Todd A. Smith)
Charles Barkley was one of the best and most dynamic basketball players to ever set foot on the hardwood.
At the size of a shooting guard, Barkley dominated as a power forward.
But despite his dominance, Barkley has often irked many in Black America for his views on race and politics.
But sometimes, you must give the devil his due.
Though Barkley has often took on the views of many opponents to the Black community on the issues, he has definitely stepped up when we have needed him the most.
The United States Supreme Court recently sent shockwaves throughout Black America by essentially banning the use of race in college admissions.
Many see the end of affirmative action in colleges as something that will stall diversity efforts, while making the playing field less balanced for a community that often starts life at a deficit as compared to their White counterparts.
Because of the affirmative action ruling, Barkley has decided to donate millions to his beloved alma mater Auburn University to ensure that the university in Alabama keeps diversity and inclusion a priority moving forward.
Scott Thompson of Fox News reported, “NBA legend Charles Barkley has made a very specific amendment to his will following the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw affirmative action in college admissions.
“In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court rejected the use of race as a factor in college admissions, saying it is a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
“Because of the decision, which outraged many, Barkley said he will leave $5 million to Auburn, his alma mater, in hopes that the university remains diverse, per TMZ Sports.”
Currently just over five percent of Auburn students identify as Black.
Barkley said, “After that ruling yesterday, my phone was blowing up. I was talking to my friends and said, ‘I need to make sure Black folks always have a place at Auburn.’”
This is not the first time that Barkley has donated millions to help the cause of Black Americans, recently.
The former Houston Rockets forward also donated millions to Historically Black Colleges and Universities like Jackson State University, Bethune-Cookman University, Alabama A&M University, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, Miles College, Tuskegee University and Spelman College.”
While Barkley has done and said some questionable things concerning the Black community, it is important that the community allows people to learn, grow and change.
If the community does not allow or accept growth and change, what is the point in the community criticizing people and their actions?
The most important word in the phrase constructive criticism, because being constructive is helping someone build and develop.
The community should be thankful for the growth of people like Barkley who have the means and the platform to make a real difference in this world.
In fact, people like Barkley, who many White people on the political right have loved for years, might be able to better educate enemies of the Black community because he has their ear, while other more militant and conscious Black athletes might not.
Barkley’s 1992 Dream Team teammate Michael Jordan also received much ridicule during his playing days for not speaking out enough on Black issues or political issues.
Jordan infamously refused to back a Black Democratic political candidate because he said Republicans buy sneakers too.
While that statement, and his perceived political apathy, often drew the ire of former teammates, former Bulls champion Craig Hodges wrote in his autobiography The Long Shot that his famous teammate was not a bad person.
Hodges said that Jordan just was not knowledgeable about Black history and did not want to speak on issues that he was not an expert on.
However, Hodges did criticize Jordan for not using his platform to speak out on racism, while opponents like Clyde Drexler did.
But in his own way, Jordan did speak out on political issues, refusing to go to the White House under former President George H.W. Bush, telling Hodges he did not vote for Bush so why go?
Thankfully, Jordan has become more generous to the Black community in recent years, also donating millions to Black causes and organizations and defending LeBron James from criticism he received from former President Donald Trump for basically not shutting up and dribbling to paraphrase Fox News’ bigot Laura Ingraham.
Although the criticism for Barkley and Jordan will continue, they are doing much more than many of their more conscious cohorts from the community.
Many will say they are not giving enough or that millions of dollars are like pennies for them.
But many of those critics have probably never donated a dime to an HBCU or a Black organization.
More importantly, many of their critics were not always experts on Black history and the Black community.
Like many others, they dedicated themselves to learning and using that newfound knowledge to make a difference in the world.
If a person goes back and reads some of my earliest articles, they might criticize me in the same way that they have Barkley over the years.
However, when you know better, you do better.
And as a people, the Black community should be happy that people like Barkley are doing much better by their brothers and sisters.
While Barkley and Jordan have not been as vociferous and have not marched on the frontlines, they are now doing their part to better the community.
In this regard, the Black community can be compared to the body of Christ.
We all make up the body.
But some are the feet.
Some are the mouthpiece.
And some are the hands.
Is one body part more important than the other?
They all work together for the good.
Despite his past missteps, Barkley is doing good for the hood.
And that is all that needs to be understood.