Charles Barkley is never shy about expressing an opinion about anything, least of all the most hot-button issues in the United States. Now the former NBA star and popular studio analyst will host a new TV show exploring “race, class and cultural differences” that will debut next year.
The name of this show? “The Race Card.”
TNT has ordered six hour-long episodes of the program, in which, according to the network, “Barkley wants to bust up the echo chamber mentality that so often has people retreating to corners of the like-minded, where views are reinforced and ideas are distorted into angry, unexamined groupthink conclusions.
“Each week, Barkley will take on the rapidly calcifying positions around today’s hot-button topics,” TNT continued in a press release. “He will seek out the sharpest and most varied viewpoints from today’s cultural leaders and tastemakers. He will then challenge and probe those ideas, even trying them out on himself.”
“We as Americans never discuss the issue of race in this country and how it impacts everything in our lives until something bad happens,” Barkley said in a statement. “I see this project as a way to talk about race, class and cultural differences and challenge everyone’s status quo.”
Barkley’s outspoken ways have certainly helped TNT’s “Inside the NBA” gain high regard, and it makes sense that the network would want to give him a forum for his views on non-basketball topics. The Hall of Fame player has both stood up for and criticized elements of the black community, including his comments on the recent turmoil following shooting deaths of and by police officers.
“We got to do better as black people,” Barkley recently said. “The cops have made some mistakes, but there’s a lot of blame to go around. But I’m not going to get on TV and yell like all these other idiots. I’m willing to sit down with anybody and have constructive criticism. I always tell myself as a black man: ‘Am I part of the problem or part of the solution?’ If I’m out doing illegal stuff, stupid stuff, I’m part of the problem. If I’m helping young black kids go to college like I’m trying to do, if I’m giving money to causes to help young men, I know I’m part of the solution.”
In April, after North Carolina passed the law targeting the LGBT community — known as HB2 — Barkley said the NBA should move the 2017 All-Star Game away from Charlotte, a decision the league eventually made. “As a black person, I’m against any form of discrimination, against whites, Hispanics, gays, lesbians, however you want to phrase it,” he said at the time. “It’s my job, with the position of power that I’m in and being able to be on television, I’m supposed to stand up for the people who can’t stand up for themselves.
The 53-year-old Barkley, who has flirted with a political career in the past, will be one of the executive producers of “The Race Card.” Of the show, TNT said, “Barkley will put ideas on their feet, with real-world proof-of-concept tests that will engage people and expose the truth behind their closely held beliefs.”