Not Black Enough?!

by rachel.vienneau on October 28, 2014 - 3:31pm

            The article “Charles Barkley: ‘Brainwashed’ blacks hold up success” published on CNN on October 27, 2014, author Breeanna Hare writes about a recent radio interview done by former NBA player Charles Barkley, who is an African-American. In the interview, Barkley talks about another African-American athlete named Russel Wilson who is the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks football team. Barkley talks about the rumors surrounding Wilson that state that some of his teammates dislike him because they feel like he is not “black enough”. Barkley goes on to say that he is not surprised to hear this because it is common for members of African-American communities to put down those who are successful. They believe that being successful and speaking well makes them less of a black person. While some people were upset by what Barkley said and disagree with him, saying that he overgeneralizes a few peoples experience, many more people strongly agree with him. On twitter, many people, including some well-known African-Americans, validated what Barkley said and shared their personal experiences, showing that what Barkley said was not just a few isolated incidents.

            I find it quite sad that some people in African-American communities put one another down when they find success. I find it sad when anyone put someone else down, but the fact that they are already oppressed enough by white people makes me think that when one of them succeeds at something they should be encouraging that person. I also find it strange that they will say that someone is not “black enough”. What does that even mean? What is considered black enough? It must really hurt someone’s ego to say this to them, and it must make them feel like they are not good enough. Of course this is not how every African-American feels towards each other, but the fact that such a large amount of them have experienced it or have seen someone else experience it means it is a problem. Hopefully now that Barkley and many other well-known people are openly talking about the issue they will be able to make a difference.


Hare, B. (2014, October 27). Charles barkley: ‘brainwashed’ blacks hold up success. CNN. Retrieved from:, -black-enough/index.html?hpt=en_c2


I agree with what you said in this post. It is sad that African Americans, do this to each other. I have seen this in some experiences in my own life. Because a person speaks with proper diction, people talked about him and made fun of him. even when they spoke improperly and he did not belittle them with his vocabulary, they still attacked him. The kid really didn't say much but got bullied because when he did he sounded smart. I feel that, that is detrimental to African Americans as a whole. I feel like Wilson should look at his teammates and laugh because if they are so bothered by the way that he speaks, it is pure jealousy of the success he has had in all facets of life.

Firstly I’d like to say your choice of article caught my attention. I am taking a World Views course and the course material has revolved around gender issues throughout the term thus far. So in your post you mentioned Russel Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks is perceived to be “less black” due to being successful and well spoken. In my analysis, there is a link to gender assumptions as well. There are expectations of him in the black community. I state this since society self polices. Thus, Wilson is expected from his black team mates (in this case) to walk the talk and be “even” with them; to pride them and not fit in the standard box of “white people” or be "feminine". By feminine I mean Wilson could be perceived as someone "weak"; since he does not fit in the box of social expectations within his team. In conclusion, his team mates are being oppressive by making him feel not good enough to their standards; in retaliation it could make Wilson feel feminine if he grew up in a hegemonic masculinity setting; which is likely for the fact he is a professional athlete, in a male dominant sport.

I agree 100% with what you’ve mentioned that there seems to be a thing where we might tell someone that is black that they aren’t black enough because they don’t conform to what a typical, and stereotypical black man should act. It almost seems as though we want to keep all black people under an umbrella, only viewing them in negative ways such as too ghetto, only good at being athletes, not as smart as the next man, often times white males, and constantly violent, & aggressive. In my own personal experience I’ve been called too preppy and too well-spoken, because I decide not to wear my clothes a certain way and speak with slang. In my opinion Charles Barkley is voicing what many black people all over the world experience and for that he should be acknowledge in a positive manner and that not being what is expected of black people very enlightening.
Suggestions: look more into what and we are more common to see and hear such acts. The demographic and maybe what parts of the world go through such on a more daily basis. Here a links that you can maybe draw from to help strengthen your argument. and

I'm always attracted to sports and when I saw your post, I just had to give it a read! There has been a lot of controversy in many sports and in this case of a racial issue. I am taking a gendered world views class right now and we have been studying the gendered world view. I wanted to add to what you had to say about race, because not only is this a race issue to me but one of hegemonic masculinity. What does "not being black enough" really mean? When one male says this to another, it is like he is putting the other male down. It is as if he is also saying that he isn't manly enough. This comment may have been the cause of how he was raised; possibly in a society/family that thrives on hegemonic masculinity.

Here is a link to a definition of what hegemonic masculinity is:

Thanks for sharing your comment, this issue is something I suspected that happened but I never heard of a punctual story about the phenomenon. As others have mentioned I think this happened as a reflection of the predominant Hegemonic masculinity doctrine. I would like to share the concept of the ”Man Box” to make a parallel between manhood discrimination and this episode. First of all, the self discrimination reaction of a person that should perform according to the expectations of a community is a factor that most men face in their lives no matter their ethnicity. The big difference is that is done about their manhood and not about their blackness. Let me talk to you about the Man Box; it is concept that explains the phenomenon of men asserting their manhood by saying that someone else is not men enough. By doing that they push someone outside the box, because they do not perform according to the expectations of the community and at the same time they affirm their masculinity. For someone to come back into the box they have to push somebody else out by repeating the behavior of their previous predator (pushing someone out because of not being men enough). So this issue of not being “black enough” sounds a lot like the man box. I don’t think it is a matter of color, but more of attitude and conforming to a “black” stereotype.