Friday, September 29, 2023

The arrogance of Barkley and Dikta is astounding

charles barkleyBy Omar Tyree, NNPA Columnist

In the middle of turmoil between police officers and unarmed African-Americans is the need for ex-pros Charles Barkley and Mike Ditka to be towed into the 21st century. Ditka and Barkley came from poor, hard-working families. Dikta, born Michael Dyczko to an Ukrainian family in Carnegie, Penn., excelled in football to escape working in the Pennsylvania steel mills and factories of the 1950s and 60s. Likewise, Barkley excelled in basketball to escape generations of poverty and racism in tiny Leeds, Ala. in the 1970s and 80s.

Old-school men love these guys. They allowed Joe Blow and Sammy Washington to validate their own unfiltered and uncompromised opinions. Now we have a nation full of no-named Ditkas and Barkleys all over the internet on Twitter and Facebook, saying whatever they want without any facts behind it. They take their cues from Barkley ad Ditka.

Mike Ditka, who calls himself an “ultra conservative,” recently said that the citizens of Ferguson, Mo., used the police killing of teenager Michael Brown as “a reason to protest and go out and loot.” He confessed that he didn’t understand the uproar, and that he doubted the St. Louis Rams football players who flashed a “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture prior a recent game against the Oakland Raiders “care about Michael Brown or anything else.”

Well, Tavon Austin, Steadman Bailey, Jared Cook, Kenny Britt and Chris Givens – the Black players in question – consider the loss of Black life, coupled with injustice from the local police force, important enough to address.

After playing professional football for 11years, coaching for a dozen more, and now commenting on hundreds of NFL games and thousands of players – many of whom happen to be Black as well – you would think Ditka would know a little more about African-American culture to at least be sensitive to the complexities of American society and race. But evidently, at age 75, Ditka has apparently learned nothing about Blacks.

I find this lack of knowledge and sensitivity amazing. But it happens every day in America. Many ethnicities, cultures, races, creeds and classes go to work and sit next to each for 40 or 50 years, and still don’t know enough about each other to care. Mike Ditka calls it being “old-fashioned.”

I call it being selfishly American. The truth is more complex than a bunch of shocking sound bites. That’s where Charles Barkley comes into play as an Alabama Black man, who often gets away with saying things that Whites and Blacks consider cute, mainly because he says it so shamelessly with his country accent. But that doesn’t make what he says factual or even logical.

Barkley has now aggravated his own family members by calling the Ferguson looters “scumbags.” He then went on to explain himself by adding more kerosene to the fire.

“In all fairness, there are some people out there who are crooks. We, as Black people, got a lot of crooks.”

Well, thanks a lot, Mr. Barkley. I’m sure thousands of hardcore police will just love that one. But the truth is: every race, culture and class has crooks, particularly when they are challenged by economic imbalances. British, Italian, Irish, Jewish, Polish, Russian, Australian, Spanish, French, Mexican, Canadian, Brazilian, Jamaican, African, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, you name it; we all have crooks. The United States of America itself is based on the stolen land of crooks, who no longer want us to talk about it. African-Americans, also happen to be stolen people. But that’s too much information to handle in this limited space.

That’s the problem with Ditka and Barkley. Their shoot-from-the-lip comments create more American extremists, who are eager to press the kill button, while still lacking vital information. This extreme emotionalism of uniformed people creates a society of angry warmongers, who are unwilling to comprehend the logic of more humane compromise.

Meanwhile, Ditka and Barkley remain above the fray as esteemed and wealthy citizens, corralling the masses to war with their gladiator swords and shields in hand, regardless of whether they understand the full impact of their uninformed words and actions.

Omar Tyree is a New York Times bestselling author, an NAACP Image Award winner for Outstanding Fiction, and a professional journalist, who has published 27 books, including co-authoring Mayor For Life; The Incredible Story of Marion Barry Jr. View more of his career and work @


  1. Unfortunately, as we all talk about how much we disagree with Barkley’s or Ditka’s comments, we help propagate their message. Indeed, we substantiate the validity of their opinions by spending the time to critique them.

    The best thing we can do is help spread a messages that more thoughtfully describe the situation.

    For extra credit, we could boycott the platforms that spread the shallow and inflammatory rhetoric of a Barkley or Ditka and support those platforms that speak for us more accurately and favorably. But you and I both no that will never happen.

    Proud to read your writing in a Black owned newspaper!

  2. As a long time fan of your website Troy – Thank you!

    And yes you are absolutely right there is always that challenge of when does reporting the foolishness of others add to the problem. However, without reporting it we run the risk of letting their voices be the only ones out there.

    For me, the Obamacare will kill your grandmother craziness of Sarah Palin which the president’s team ignored initially, eventually came back to bite them because perception became the reality they had to fight against because they were being defined versus setting the conversation… but perhaps I bitterly digress.

  3. I cannot speak for anyone other than myself, but first I think your statement oversimplifies things. It appears the reason even pro athletes who are putting their endorsement money at risk and others are spending time marching in the streets is because of the fact there is a pattern and they want it addressed. I am saddened at the loss of lives of the cops who put their lives on the line so I can feel safe in my home and community.

    Frustration on one does not mean lack of care for the other.

  4. Folks like Charles can give innocent athletes a bad name. I think he’s a good example of why we should judge some athletes by what they do in the game and not by what they say. Of course, Charles Barkley told us years ago that he was no role model. His comments about the police and society are not too sharp either. As a matter of fact, since his “spit and miss” incident years ago, I haven’t been too surprised by much of anything he says. The derogatory phrase “dumb jock” keeps ringing in my ears….but I won’t expound on that phrase in this comment. Also, the image of Stepin Fetchits’ movie characters keep jumping into my minds eye…and Mike Ditka doesn’t even deserve a comment…I mean, what could we expect in the first place. But NDG thanks for pointing them out.


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