Just as the LA Clippers are getting ready to suit up for a promising post season game, Clippers Owner Donald Sterling was busted on tape making a host of horrible racist comments. Recorded by his girlfriend–a 20-something woman of color–Sterling ranted for nearly 10 minutes , including these fine comments curated by TMZ:
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” (3:30)
“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.” (5:15)
“I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.” (7:45)
Thankfully the officials at the NBA promise to get to the bottom of things with an investigation–and even promise due process! Wait, has he been charged with a crime? No, but I don’t think it will take much investigating. Is that you? Yes? Oh, then we’re done here.
This of course is not the first time that race has reared its ugly head in sports, nor even the first time that Sterling has broadcast his prejudiced proclivities–he was sued in a housing discrimination case in 2003 that he settled for 2.75 million, and another case some reports say settled for 5 million. More than just dislike, Sterling has a history of using his power to perpetuate his racist ideology.
Perhaps most telling though is a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against Sterling by Elgin Baylor. LA Times reporter Lisa Dillman wrote about Elgin’s testimony back in 2010:
Baylor spoke about what he called Sterling’s “plantation mentality,” alleging the owner in the late 1990s rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because of race. Baylor quoted Sterling as saying: “Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players.” Baylor said he was shocked. “And he [Sterling] looked at me and said, ‘Do you think that’s a racist statement?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. That’s plantation mentality.’ “
So it is well established that Serling is a text book racist. By textbook, I mean he uses his power and position to negatively affect people based only on the color of their skin. Despite lots of calls for Sterling to face some sanctions or a suspension, will the NBA, who has long known about this guy, do anything meaningful this time? Doubtful.
Tonight Doc Rivers and his team will suit up for this owner and play their hearts out. The team decided not to boycott–for the fans. The LA times reports that “players considered wearing black socks or armbands in protest during Sunday’s game but worried about being viewed as radical.” In a long list of Tweets, Rivers’ son encouraged people to support the players’ decision to play, saying one man’s racism shouldn’t stop the team.
But what if that man is called your father’s owner? What if that man has made it clear that he is okay with having “poor black boys” play for him but does not want to have to be associated with them? What if that man is long known to have a plantation mentality towards players and staff of color?
Wait–okay with employing blacks, has a plantation mentality and a history of thumbing his nose at people who criticize him–is..is Donald Sterling the long lost twin of Clive “Better-as-slaves” Bundy, the Nevada rancher who’s comments filled the airwaves this week with these racist gems?
Two men, within one week, making outragoues–and not unconnected–comments about black people. We have seen this too many times to pretend this is shocking or surprising. In fact, the idea that blacks are undesirables, poor wretches, depressed sitting on stoops or desperate to take any amount of abuse to play ball, welfare-bleeding baby-aborting self-imprisoning ghetto rachet free-lunch freeloaders, better-off-as-slaves is a prominent thread in our media environment. From politicians to celebrities to NBA team owning billionaire black-fetishist Donald Sterling, overt racism is everywhere. Maybe it’s time we stop treating these as isolated incidents and confront the epidemic in evidence.
If you follow smntks, you know there is no shortage of public people making overtly racist comments, usually followed by a weak apology, or lame reasoning. We hear this, we stomp our feet and holler, but long term, what do we really do? Tonight, Donald Sterling will take his seat to watch his “boys” play; Paula Dean is making a comeback; Michael Dunn got away with murder.
Its time to stop condemning and start acting. Boycott the game. Don’t vote for the politicians who tripped over themselves to support Clive Bundy. Stop yelling “black President” and start spreading the word that racism is real and we are all responsible for ending it.
If you think that socks and armbands are radical, then I’m telling you the moment is here. Put your black socks on. Rock a black armband. It is time to get radical.