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Charles Barkley: Athletes’ activism should be backed by donations, community work

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneels

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneels during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Orchard Park, N.Y. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

Locking arms or raising a fist isn’t enough. If athletes want to protest institutionalized racism, they have to start with raising up the community around them, Charles Barkley said.

When asked about the anthem protests that have swept the sports world in recent months, Barkley said that while he appreciates the sentiment, athletes need to do more if they want to effect change.

“I challenge all these guys,” he said Tuesday at TNT’s “Inside the NBA” media luncheon. “What are they actually doing to help the cause? You can raise a fist, you can take a knee, but what are you actually doing to help the problem?”

Protests began during the football preseason, when the San Francisco 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to protest what he described as the oppression of people of color. Similar protests have spread throughout the country — extending even to high school teams — causing a range of reactions and sparking national debate.

Kaepernick has pledged to donate $1 million to communities in need; Barkley believes there needs to be more of that type of activism. Barkley himself has made millions of dollars in charitable donations, including $1 million to Auburn University and another million to the Morehouse College sports journalism program.

“You’ve got to do stuff in your community,” he said. “We have too many young black kids thinking they’re going to play sports . . . [and] I’m not sure sports are great for black kids because they think that’s the only way they’re going to make it in life . . . I think sports have done a disservice to a lot of black kids thinking they can only be successful through athletics and entertainment. I want them to know they can be doctors, lawyers and engineers.”


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