We live in a nation today where people are not always characterized by “acting civil” or “acting humane”. Instead, a person’s behavior can be distinguished by a racial stereotype, such as “acting black” or “acting white”.
This year, President Obama gave a speech at the Walker Jones Education Campus where he went into a riff on the matter that many African Americans are teased for “acting white”. He stated, “Sometimes African Americans, in communities where I’ve worked, there’s been the notion of “acting white” - which sometimes is overstated, but there’s an element of truth to it, where, okay, if boys are reading too much, then, well, why are you doing that? Or why are you speaking so properly? And the notion that there’s some authentic way of being black, that if you’re going to be black you have to act a certain way and wear a certain kind of clothes, that has to go. Because there are a whole bunch of different ways for African American men to be authentic.”
Obama received much praise and support behind the opinions he shared. On the other hand, Charles Barkley, former professional basketball player and now a basketball analyst, received great animosity from the black community for sharing the same ideas as Obama in less political language.
When talking on a Philadelphia radio show, Barkley explained, “When you’re black you have to deal with so much crap in your life from other black people. When black kids succeed in school, the loser kids tell them you’re ‘acting white’. Too many blacks think that it’s best to knock a successful black person down cause they’re intelligent, they speak well, they do well in school, and they’re successful.”
Although Charles Barkley often expresses his opinions quite vehemently, he never hesitates to speak what he truthfully believes. Both Obama and Barkley share the same idea that African Americans are vulnerable to being teased when striving for success, except Obama never puts blame on anyone, whereas Barkley claims that the source of the problem is within the black community itself.
I feel that the reason any statements that Barkley makes are often so strongly detested is because he stresses the need for individual accountability. He is trying to show that people of the same race have the capability of putting each other down as well. Due to recent events solely embodying racial conflict, blacks and whites have focused on blaming the other race for all problems without holding themselves accountable for causing the conflict individually.