I can’t say that I’m surprised. Last week it was Cliven Bundy, the ‘outspoken’ Nebraska cattle rancher who asserted that “Black people were better off as slaves, picking cotton” and this week it’s Donald Sterling who was quoted as saying “You can sleep with them, just don’t bring Blacks to my games.” Now I wonder who will be the next person to make such ignorant statements publicly. It’s official folks, President Obama may be in the Oval office but we are not living in a “post-racial” era.
If you haven’t turned on your television lately or picked up a newspaper, I’ll bring you up to speed: A couple of days ago, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, age 80, was outed as being a racist based on an audio tape that was “leaked” by his mistress, V. Stiviano, age 31. It appears as if Ms. Stiviano was trying to extort additional monies from Mr. Sterling, although he had already purchased over $2,000,000 worth of items for her including a duplex, Bentleys (yes, more than one) and paid for other high-end living expenses. For almost 10 minutes he went on & on about his personal feelings about minorities even though his very own mistress is of a mixed race heritage (African American & Mexican).
Now I’m not sure how Mr. Sterling was raised. It seems that he was raised by Jewish immigrants and lived in Los Angeles pretty much his entire life. He went to high school & college in the Los Angeles area, as well. So where did all of his disdain for African Americans come from? Did he have a bad experience growing up? Did some Black kids pick on him in college? California is such a liberal state (even back in his day) that it’s hard to believe that someone from here could feel this way about the very people that have made him so rich.
This is not the 1st time that Donald Sterling has been in hot water for his personal feelings about minorities. A Justice Department lawsuit filed in 2006 accused Sterling’s rental company of refusing to lease Beverly Hills apartments to African-Americans, refusing to rent to non-Koreans in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles County and turning away families with children from its properties. That case was settled in 2009, with Sterling agreeing to pay nearly $3 million but continuing to deny the accusations. In 2003, the nonprofit Housing Rights Center and a group of tenants who lived in Sterling’s properties filed a federal lawsuit against Sterling, accusing him of “numerous discriminatory statements and housing practices,” according to court documents. Those same documents allege that Sterling told building staff that he did not like Hispanic or African-American tenants and that he preferred Korean-American tenants and made “disparaging comments” about African-American and Hispanic tenants. Federal prosecutors accused his rental company of refusing to lease Beverly Hills apartments to African-Americans. And a group of tenants accused him of “numerous discriminatory statements and housing practices.” Now when there are this many race-related incidents attached to a person’s name, one has to wonder. What’s the saying – If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…..
It has been duly noted that Donald Sterling has donated some money to the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, who in turn gave him a lifetime achievement award. However, they awarded him that honor in 2009, which is coincidentally the same year that his discrimination lawsuit was settled. It sounds to me like he started throwing money at minority groups after his discrimination cases began (remember, he had multiple cases). The NAACP was planning on presenting him with another award in May, 2014, however, they have rescinded the invitation to honor him again.
Let’s take a look at the racial composition of the NBA. It’s no secret that over 80% of all NBA players are African American, and that number is even higher within the Clipper organization at 85%. Basically everybody on that team with the exception of 2 players is African American, not to mention their head coach & assistant head coach. So if 85% of the people who have worked for you & made you rich (a billionaire to the tune of $1.9 billion, to be exact) are the very same color that you despise, what does that say about you? No one wants to feel like they are good enough to make you money, but not good enough to be seen in public with those that are supposedly close to you. They say that the unspoken mantra from white owners to black athletes is: “You keep the culture, we keep the capital.” If they control your livelihood, they control your life.
Adam Silver, the newly installed NBA commissioner, certainly has quite a decision on his hands. It’s expected that sometime this week a decision will be handed down about the fate of Mr. Sterling. Thus far Adam Silver is maintaining that Mr. Sterling should be given “due process” but what about all of the employees that have worked for him with his racist mentality for the last 30 years that he’s owned the Clippers? Where is their “due process”? I believe that the NBA needs to act swiftly & justly. The National Basketball Association can choose to suspend Donald Sterling, fine him several millions or even enforce the NBA Constitution which dictates that the other NBA owners can vote to revoke his ownership.
What do I think should be done? Well, a dozen top sponsors of the L.A. Clippers have already suspended their support (thank you Red Bull, State Farm & Sprint!) but I certainly think that sanctions should be taken against Mr. Sterling. He needs to be hit where it hurts – in his wallet. You see, racism affects everyone in the NBA organization not just the players or the coaches. Can you imagine having to come to work every day knowing (and sometimes not knowing) that your boss or your boss’s boss can’t stand you just because of the color of your skin – something you can’t do anything about? It’s called the “plantation effect” and it’s something that many of us African Americans face on a daily basis. We are denied jobs, promotions, bank loans, a second chance, etc. just because of our skin color. The only difference between Donald Sterling and all the other racist bosses out there is that his true feelings are no longer hidden. But what can you do when you work for someone who is clearly uncomfortable in your presence, prefers not to be alone with you or avoids small talk at all costs? The only positive thing that has come out of this is that those who didn’t know where Mr. Sterling stood on the subject of race before know now.
Currently, the L.A. Clippers are #1 in the Western conference. Should they even bother winning this year’s championship just so that Donald Sterling can take all the credit?
What are your thoughts or views on this Sterling/Clipper/NBA kerfuffle? Do you think NBA Commissioner Adam Silver should take swift action? Furthermore, should Donald Sterling be forced to sell the Clippers?
Wanna take action? Let the NBA know how you feel by clicking here. You know I already have!