Tonight is the premiere of TNT’s new docuseries, American Race, a two-night, four-hour television event that will air May 11 and 12 from 9pm to 11pm on TNT.
The series will follow Barkley as he makes his way across the country, interviewing people and asking them about subjects like police and race relations, Muslims in America, Hollywood stereotyping, and Immigration. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Barkley said, “If you are black on television, you are probably going to be some kind of thug, gangster or portrayed in a negative light. If you are some type of Muslim, you are going to be blowing stuff up. If you are Hispanic you are going to be some type of gangbanger. I’ve felt like this for years.” Barkley also says that he’s wanted to form a production company for years, and pitched the concept of the documentary to Turner Sports executives.
Barkley will speak to Dallas-based activist Sharmina Zaidi, LA based actor and activist Peter Jae Kim, Atlanta-based civil rights attorney Gerald Griggs, and civil rights lawyer William H. “Billy” Murphy. Reviews for the show have been polarizing, to say the least. While some outlets have raved about how well-done it is, others have said Barkley teaches viewers “as little as you would expect.”
A controversial part of the docuseries occurs when Spencer sits down with a leader of the alt-right movement, Richard Spencer, whose tweets were so controversial that he was banned from Twitter last November. Gerald Griggs tells SI that he knew people would have issues with Spencer getting any time on television.
We thought long and hard about it. In the end, we were convinced that it was more important to shine a light. … The point that we started with the show was believing overt racism did not exist anymore and we needed to talk about systematic racism and subtle things on the margins that people are not always aware of. By the time we got to the end of filming, we felt we were not talking about the elephant in the room but about just racism. Richard Spencer provided an opportunity to expose that and to talk about what underlies all of those different issues.
Read on to find out when and where to catch the special tonight.
DATE: Thursday, May 11 & Friday, May 12
TIME: Thursday– 9pm ET/PT (“Baltimore Rising”); 10pm ET/PT (“Muslim is the New Black”)
Friday– 9pm ET/PT (“Entertainment Still So White”); 10pm ET/PT (“The Divided States of America”)
HOST: Charles Barkley
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Dan Partland