This Post was originally published on April 29th, 2014
Disclaimer: What I am going to say can very easily be taken the wrong way. These opinions are my own and do not represent any of my employers or any groups that I am associated with. If you take issue with my views please reach out publicly or privately and we can engage in discussions like adults. If you are easily offended or are willing to take extreme action because of my statements or views then please stop reading right now.
Are you still reading? Well let us begin.
Donald Sterling is a 80 year old racist. We got it, lets move on. I know plenty of racists, in fact some people might even consider some of my statements to be racist. If your racist grandmother was a billionaire would anybody make a big deal about it? (note my grandmother not a racist, shes a saint). This recording isn’t new information, this crazy old man has left a train of racially motivated evidence behind him. In our sensationalized 24 hour news coverage this has become the biggest issue in the world. Not the civil war in Syria, or the near civil war in Ukraine, or the tornadoes that are rampaging in the deep south, no a story that TMZ broke. Can’t we just go back to coverage of them searching for the plane, at least all those ocean views were calming.
Racism is terrible. Nobody will ever disagree with me on that. But face It racism is a part of everyday life. I have a large number friends from other races, and three mixed race cousins, but I am willing to admit that I have made racist comments. I am not proud of this, but I am honest enough to admit to myself and the world that I am not perfect, and sometimes those imperfections manifest in poor choices or thoughts. Is it something that should be condoned? No. Is it the end of the world? No. This isn’t a 1st amendment discussion because this man isn’t being tried in anything other than the court of public opinion. Reactionary moves by the NBA trying to appease the public, who by the way generally don’t care about basketball, are only adding fuel to the fire.
What he said was insulting, and insensitive, and yes he should probably suffer some consequences, but should he be forced out of his own team? Hell no. Sterling bought the Clippers in 1981 for around $12 Million, he has since grown them into a half Billion dollar business. In fact selling the Clippers would be a reward by freeing up the money for him to do other things with it, like fund the gold digger girlfriends he has on the side.
I understand the $2.5 Million fine. If I were an advertiser I would steer clear and terminate all contracts with the team. If I were talented enough to be a player in the smallest professional sports league in the nation I would probably take the millions of dollars because lets face it you probably have had a racist boss at one time or another. If I was a Clippers fan (do the Clippers actually have fans?) I would never attend another game or buy any merchandise. What I don’t understand is the public vilification by millions of people who had never heard of Donald Sterling last week, and I certainly don’t understand how he can be forced to sell a team that he has owned for 33 years. Most sports teams are owned by rich old white men. How the fact that a rich old white man could possibly be recorded without his knowledge making racist statements blows people’s minds simply eludes me.
Are we vilifying this guy more because he owns a sports team in the racially diverse city of LA? Bonus points to whoever read that in your head as “ciiiitttaaay of L. A.” like in California Love. Or are we vilifying him because he owns a team that is predominately full of black players? Or because he directly insulted American hero, HIV activist, and my close personal friend Magic Johnson? Or is just because Paula Dean has been hiding under a rock for long enough that we need a new whipping boy.
This is a symptom on our increased reliance on small amounts of information that is constantly skewed by the mouthpiece that presents it. I am as much of a victim of this as anybody else. Because I don’t have a TV I get all of my news from NPR, timesunion.com, ProFootball Talk, and Deadspin. Nobody will ever accuse the last three of being paragons of journalistic integrity, but just like those who get their information through the skewed eyes of Fox News or the comedic lens of the Daily Show I simply do not have enough time or motivation to search for information elsewhere. By sacrificing the amount of time that I invest into information gathering I need to rely heavily on what I am told rather than examining the facts. Its a simple tradeoff, hell most of what I have said so far may be all bullshit, but this is the world that we live in. I used to love CNN, back before they cared about Bourdain reality shows and footage of cruise ships. Now even the number one trusted news source has left us with little more than repeated tidbits and interviews with “experts.” Nothing is getting better, we may have more access to information than ever before but in reality it is nothing but shit and cat videos.
This overreaction is nothing new, in fact I don’t think that it is the first public witch hunt in the past few months. Remember the Duck Commander saying that he doesn’t understand homosexuality? Or Paula’s fall from being the happiest bacon lover in America? The one thing that America loves more than discounted Paula Dean cookware is a scandal that can unfold one soundbite at a time during a slow news week.
You can brand me as insensitive, or point out all the ways that my stupid fat white brain can’t understand the implications of racism. But in the end isn’t the goal to treat other human beings as people regardless of their color or beliefs. Setting a double standard where we ask people to be open and speak their minds while vilifying them when they say something that we don’t like gets us nowhere. Nobody will come out beating the drum to have Donald Sterling at their next cocktail party, and I doubt that he will get a Christmas card from the NAACP. Haven’t we seen that the lynch mob isn’t the best way to promote change in America?