Charles Barkley and Gayle King were right to call out Nikki Haley over racism claim

In February for Black History Month, USA TODAY Sports is publishing the series "29 Black Stories in 29 Days." We examine the issues, challenges and opportunities Black athletes and sports officials continue to face after the nation’s reckoning on race following the murder of George Floyd in 2020. This is the fourth installment of the series.

There are many reasons to like Charles Barkley. One of them is his bluntness. He was that way as an NBA player and is now as both a sports and news opinion maker. You may not like his opinion but he's fearless in giving it. That's what happened during a conversation he and Gayle King had with Nikki Haley, the Republican presidential candidate about her troubling, naïve and flat-out wrong views on race.

Last month, Fox News' Brian Kilmeade asked Haley if she was "involved in a racist party." Said Haley: "We’re not a racist country, Brian. We’ve never been a racist country."

“Our goal is to make sure that today is better than yesterday," she added. "Are we perfect? No. But our goal is to always make sure we try and be more perfect every day that we can. I know I faced racism when I was growing up. But I can tell you, today is a lot better than it was then. Our goal is to lift up everybody. Not go and divide people on race or gender or party or anything else. We’ve had enough of that in America."

Saying America has never been racist was ignorant for any number of reasons. Like, you know, slavery. Or Jim Crow. Or Japanese internment camps. Or anti-Semitism. Or the Trail of Tears. Or...or...or...

Haley doesn't even have to leave the state where she was once the governor to see how wrong that view is. In 2015, white supremacist Dylann Roof walked into a Black church in Charleston and murdered nine people who were there for Bible study. Haley was the governor when that happened.

You can love this country but also recognize its tremendous flaws. One thing you cannot do is say the country has never been racist. That's a childlike view of how things work. It's also historically inaccurate.

During their Feb. 21 CNN show "King Charles," Barkley and King both expressed skepticism about Haley's comments. As they should have.

"I can say I'm dying to vote for you," Barkley said. "And that (comment) hurt me. So I would love you to clarify that."

"So, first of all, I never said that there was not racism in America," Haley said. "There absolutely is racism in America. I said that America was not a racist country."

As the conversation went on, it was clear that Haley just doesn't get it. Hopefully, one day, she will.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Charles Barkley right to call out Nikki Haley about views on race