NBA star turned culture critic Charles Barkley launches a new series, American Race, premiering this week on TNT.
Charles Barkley had a legendary career in the NBA for 16 seasons. He has since become an analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA and has a new documentary series discussing race relations called “American Race.” Its a highly diverse arrangement- not focusing exclusively on the Black exposure, but even that of Muslims and Asians. It’s a project that Barkley undertook out of interest in the issue of why race relations have changed so little in America.
It’s a learning experience for Barkley and any viewers, too. As his know-nothing approach is paired with experience as a black man and interacting in an intense manner, quick top-of-the-head opinions and positions that can’t really be denied. Immediate reception was not good, but that is because everyone commenting was employing coastal-advanced understanding of racism and insensitivity.
When looking at race in America, it’s important to approach it as Barkley does. Let experience speak for itself. Listen before talking. Ask simple, malleable questions. Paired with an even temper, this foolproof formula captures the interest of viewers through it’s back-to-basics exploration of race. It’s a complex issue that has grown increasingly complicated and tangled- a breather like this is well-received outside of the echo chambers that often create the tangle conversations, rife with obscure references and uncertain and positions.
In one episode, Barkley speaks with alt-right founder Richard Spencer and civil rights attorney Gerald Griggs. It’s Barkley asking questions people are often to afraid to pose- or feel is not politically correct to do so. From Baltimore, Dallas, Los Angeles to Atlanta, Barkley lets those who need to speak, speak.
Whether you know Barkley or not, know this, in the context of American Race: “Charles, the thing that we love about you and that we’ve always loved about you is that you’re strong, wrong and willing to learn,” Civil rights attorney Billy Murphy, Jr. said. “You wear your heart on your sleeve. There’s never any question about what you think. And when we first saw you, you were a breath of fresh air because you told it like you saw it. You weren’t trying to be politically correct or anything like that. And so we knew what the cure to your disease was. It’s the same for everybody in this room. You have to understand what’s going on before you can talk about what’s going on.”
The first of the four episodes premieres 9 p.m. ET on May 11. TNT will air a series preview Sunday after the edition of Inside The NBA that follows the Spurs-Rockets playoff game. (If you can’t wait for the premiere, all episodes will be available through VOD and the TNT app starting May 8.)
Rating: TV-14-LV (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for coarse language and violence)