During a segment on Saturday’s NCAA men’s Final Four game in Indianapolis, retired basketball legend Charles Barkley gave a scathing critique of American politics, saying it is primarily “designed” to make Blacks and Whites hate each other.
Hall of Famer Barkley, who is an analyst for the college basketball tournament, shared those sentiments when he was responding to a question about a historic event that took place in Indianapolis on April 4, 1958, Sports Illustrated reported. On that day, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was then running for president of the United States, informed a gathered crowd in the city about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
During his speech, Kennedy urged Black Americans not to take up arms in response to the iconic Civil Rights activist’s fatal shooting. Asked to share his views on the segment, Barkley called out the country’s politicians and elaborated on why he believes the system is designed to perpetuate hatred between Black and White people.
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“Man, I think most white people and Black people are great people,” the 58-year-old started. “I really believe that in my heart, but I think our system is set up where our politicians, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, are designed to make us not like each other so they can keep their grasp of money and power. They divide and conquer.”
Though the former Phoenix Suns star reiterated “most White people and Black people are awesome people”, he pointed out a flaw.
“But we’re so stupid following our politicians,” he said. “Whether they’re Republicans or Democrats, and their only job is, ‘Hey, let’s make these people not like each other. We don’t live in their neighborhoods, we all got money, let’s make the whites and Blacks not like each other, let’s make rich people and poor people not like each other, let’s scramble the middle class.’ I truly believe that in my heart.”
Barkley hasn’t been the type to shy away from expressing his views about various issues though some have raised eyebrows. Last year, he was criticized on social media over on-air comments he made when he was comparing Breonna Taylor’s death to that of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.
“I don’t think this one was like George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery and things like that,” he said on NBA on TNT, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “I feel sad that this young lady lost her life. I think this one was — the no-knock warrant is something we need to get rid of … across the board. But I am worried to lump all these situations in together.”
He added: “And I just feel bad that the young lady lost her life. But we do have to take into account that her boyfriend shot at the cops and shot a cop. So like I say, even though I am really sorry she lost her life, I just don’t think we can put this in the same situation as George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery.”