I can’t decide whether it is Black leaders who feel they must speak for all of us or the media industry that is always looking for the one person to go to. As with everything, it is a little bit of both.
Recently, Charles Barkley stated in an interview to a Philadelphia radio station that successful Blacks biggest problem is unintelligent Blacks. This statement has so many problems on so many levels. First, is this only an issue for Black people? So successful White people, Latino people, Asian people, etc (fill in your favorite ethnicity) don’t have the same issue? Second, the statement assumes that successful people are intelligent and unsuccessful are not. Depending on how you define successful, there’s an argument to be made that intelligence or the lack thereof exists on both ends of the success stratum. Biggest problem? Not institutional racism, the economy, the effects of government policies, or anything else, just unintelligent Black people. In his quote, he states he tells his White friends this. Sounds to me he’s trying to be accepted by his White friends. I was alerted to his comments by my friend George Alexander who has a piece in Huffington Post about high-tech summit held at his alma mater, Morehouse College.
The problem is that no one person can speak for an entire ethnic group. Every group has a wide range of expectations, desires, beliefs, and philosophies. I’m sure Mr. Barkley represents a segment of the Black community, so too Dr. Cornell West, or Jesse Jackson, or Tavis Smiley, or Dr. Thomas Sowell. In the Latino, I’m sure there are equivalents.
As much as I would like for the media industry to provide balanced coverage to issues in matters of race, I know it won’t happen. All I can ask is that we as thoughtful citizens be mindful that what we are hearing is one person’s view and not that of an entire community. As with any politically expressed viewpoint, seek out the opposing view. That’s what Free Voter readers are all about.