'Minstrel' Critique of Barkley Uncivilized
A columnist's recent takedown of the sports legend is oddly timed and, frankly, opportunistic.
Further, save for a stint on Saturday Night Live in January 2010, a show whose entire existence is based on pretty much making fools of everyone, including celebrity guests, Barkley has retired to the bench, serving as a commentator and going about life under the radar -- as most people do, including celebrities who are no longer in their heyday. Barkley stated in the opening monologue of his 2010 SNL guest-host stint that he had been retired for years, had nothing to plug and mostly spent his time gambling, playing bad golf and "occasionally getting arrested." Even the former NBA star is aware of his diminished celebrity, so why isn't Ghosh?
The best we can hope is that Ghosh is trapped in a time capsule. Maybe Ghosh should have waited for Barkley's upcoming SNL appearance on Jan. 7 before publishing his article so that there could be some relevancy to his attack.
While some will be angered that a person outside the black community made such an attack on a figure like Barkley, I think it is less about who is making the attack than it is about why he is attacking Barkley in such a public and mean-spirited way.
Surely Ghosh isn't hitching his online success to the "celebrity" of a "poor, boorish, uneducated, overweight black man from the Deep South who [has become] a multi-millionaire athletic superstar and (even more inexplicably) a highly sought-out media celebrity" in order to gain some level of notoriety? If Barkley is such a buffoon, then why address him at all? What recent examples of Barkley's "minstrelsy" does Ghosh have to warrant this subjective critique, which seemingly comes out of left field?
It isn't as if a myriad of academics, public intellectuals and the like haven't already broached this topic in far more suitable publications. Further, Barkley was thoroughly critiqued and castigated by many of these same folks almost two decades ago.
At best, Ghosh is late to the party; at worst, he's a social media climber trying to stir up controversy where there is none. The practice of screaming fire when there's no smoke is, frankly, uncivilized.
Nsenga Burton is editor-at-large for The Root.