On Thursday, NBA great and TNT analyst Charles Barkley said he would continue to use the “N-word” around his black and white friends, and he emphasized that white America has no right to dictate to him what is appropriate when he is around his black friends.
“I’m a black man. I use the N-word. I’m going to continue to use the N-word with my black friends, with my white friends–they are my friends,” Barkley said on TNT’s post-game show. “In the locker room and when I’m with my friend, we use racial slurs.”
He then said he has been watching television for the last three months and has paid attention to the discussions surrounding Paula Dean’s use of the N-word and the current situation between Miami Dolphins players Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. Martin left the team after repeated alleged harassment, and his camp released a voicemail in which Incognito used the N-word. On Wednesday, Los Angeles Clippers player Matt Barnes used the “N-word” to refer to his teammates in an in-game rant on Twitter after he was ejected in a game against the Thunder after he stood up for Blake Griffin and got into a fight with OKC’s Serge Ibaka.
Barkley said Barnes should not have tweeted the “N-word” in public, but said it is not up to white America or “white reporters” who do not have the courage to go into the locker room to tell Barkley how he should act around his black friends or how players should act in the locker room.
“What I do with my black friends is not up to white America to dictate to me … what’s appropriate or inappropriate,” Barkley said. “What we say in the locker room – it should always stay in the locker room, I might add that also – the language we use, sometimes it’s homophobic, sometimes it’s sexist, and a lot of times, it’s racist … we do that when we’re joking with our teammates. It is nothing personal.”
Barkley said “this national debate going on right now” about the “N-word” and race “makes makes me uncomfortable.”
“White America don’t get to dictate how me and Shaq talk to each other. And they have been trying to infiltrate themselves and say… ‘you guys use it, it’s in rap music’ … no, no, no it’s not the same … as I tell my white friends who I love like brothers … [they ask] when is it appropriate?,” Barkley said. “If you use it around the wrong brother, the next thing you going to hear is a clock upside your damn head.”