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9781594482052 / 1594482055

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About the book:

"Racism," Charles Barkley says, "is the biggest cancer of my lifetime. And I know I can't cure the cancer, but doesn't somebody have to attack it?" Barkley's means of attack in Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man?--not surprising from one of the most outspoken athletes of our time--is to break past the taboo of race by talking about it in the open. What might be surprising is that Barkley steps aside and lets other people talk, too. While in his previous bestseller, I May Be Wrong but I Doubt It, the former NBA MVP and current TNT commentator held forth on a wide variety of subjects, for his new book he sought out a baker's dozen of leading figures in entertainment, business, and government (and yes, one athlete) and sat down with each for a frank conversation about race.

Of course race is not a simple topic, and each discussion heads in its own direction. Tiger Woods speaks both of his biracial identity and of how moving it was to see the black staff at Augusta National lined up to see him put on the green jacket as Masters champion. George Lopez talks about the pressures of creating a breakthrough Latino sitcom in an almost all-white industry. Film producer Peter Guber surprises Barkley when he says that he made The Color Purple out of economic self-interest, not idealism. Many of the discussions turn, like Guber's, not to traditional civil rights but to economics, which Rabbi Steven Leder calls the real "last taboo subject in America." It's clear that the audience Barkley most hopes to reach with this book is the young black men and women that he and many of his interview subjects are concerned about. "We're losing," activist Marian Wright Edelman tells him, "and if we don't stop this trend, we're going to be headed back to slavery." Barkley's celebrity subjects can provide some models for success for those readers, but one also hopes Barkley can continue the conversation by turning the spotlight on those struggling with the problems of race outside the sometimes protective glare of fame. --Tom Nissley

Who's Afraid of Talking to a Large Black Man?

Throughout his career, Charles Barkley has always been willing--quite willing--to call it as he sees it, making him one of the most quotable athletes of his era and, many have suggested, a future political candidate. He's as happy talking issues as talking hoops, and for his new book, Who's Afraid of a Large Black Man? he sat down for conversations across the country about the troublesome topic of race in America. We had our own conversation on the subject with Sir Charles: Read it to find why he wrote the book, what he tells his own biracial daughter about race, and why he thinks sports can be a model for race relations.

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