TNT basketball analyst Kenny "The Jet" Smith has written an open letter to Charles Barkley in response to comments the pro legend made about the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, including calling looters "scumbags."
In the letter, published exclusively in USA Today's "For the Win" section
, Smith lauded his co-host on "Inside the NBA" for his authority and knowledge in sports, but suggested that authority does not spill over into race relations. Smith said although Barkley may have an opinion about the situation, it shouldn't be treated as expert knowledge.
It is, Smith offered, an opinion. And then he went on to offer his own opinion about the Ferguson situation.
"The question must be asked: Why is there so much distrust in the police and the legal system from the African American community? Without manifesting what the effects of slavery still have today, Dec. 1 still marks only 59 years since Rosa Parks sat on that memorable bus," Smith wrote.
With that in mind, he said, the view of what happened in Ferguson can be likened to a group of people in a highly stressful situation, such as stranded on an island.
"If you put 100 people on an island with no food, no water, no hope of a ship coming, then some will overcome it and be resourceful, some will live in it, others will panic and others will show horrific character, which is wrong," Smith said. "But not to understand that all alternatives are possible is wrong as well."
"It's not that they are 'scumbags,' their emotions won't allow them to rationally think through their anger," wrote Smith.
Barkley elaborated on his comments about Ferguson to CNN
on Tuesday, saying there needs to be a dialogue that occurs outside of the times when something bad, like Ferguson, happens.
"We never discuss race in this country until something bad happens," he told said, which contributes to a tribe mentality. "Everybody wants to protect their own tribe, whether they are right or wrong. ... One of the problems with this entire situation is there's so much noise going on, you never get to the crux of the issue that you need to be discussing."
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