Donald Sterling’s racial problems didn’t matter until rich, powerful felt offended

| May 8, 2014
Brenda Robinson

Brenda Robinson

By Brenda Robinson

Donald Sterling’s taped racist remarks, which became public recently, outraged sports announcers, media reporters, talk show hosts, and even President Barack Obama. Sterling, owner of NBA Los Angeles Clippers, in a taping by his girlfriend, V. Stivano, said among other derogatory language, he doesn’t want black people at Clippers games and it bothers him a lot that V. is associating with black people. He specifically named Magic Johnson, commenting he resented Stivano teamed with Johnson in an Instagram image. Sterling’s remarks were indeed racist. However, his comments alone do not make him racist, but his power, coupled with the comments does. Yet, Sterling’s racism is not a problem for the majority of Americans, but rather an opportunity for the rich and famous.

Firstly, this country is not real clear on a definition for racism. Some scholars make no distinction between racism and prejudice. Racial prejudice is often the result of ignorance, resulting in negative opinions of blacks and/or other minorities, and often coupled with declaring the ethnic group inferior and unworthy of opportunities afforded the majority. Stereotyping is a by-product of racism, most often resulting from cultural conditioning. Most people have some degree of racial prejudice, due to cultural conditioning. While racism generally has the same components of prejudice, an added component makes racism much more deadly. A racist has the power, political and/or economic, to damage an entire ethnic group, socially, culturally, economically, and educationally. And, Sterling has $2.5 billion worth of power, yet there is no evidence that his influence damaged one black NBA Clipper, Magic Johnson, or any wealthy black person who hung with Sterling. Johnson commented he and Sterling were friends. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said he attended Sterling’s daughter’s wedding.

Secondly, we must examine Sterling’s past racist acts and the lack of outrage from his current critics. Former Clipper General Manager Elgin Baylor sued Sterling for wrongful termination and discrimination on the basis of age and race in 2009. The jury ruled in favor of Sterling in March 2011. Baylor said he was unfairly paid less than a white general manager. No outcry from the rich and famous. Sterling reached an out of court settlement in a race based housing discrimination matter in 2009 and paid a $2.7 million settlement. No outcry from the rich and famous. In 2005, Sterling reached a private settlement with complainants after he said tenants in his buildings smelled and were unclean. No outcry from the rich and famous. In addition, the NBA Commissioners had no public response.

Thirdly, black organizations readily accepted Sterling’s donations and the Los Angeles NAACP Chapter presented Sterling two lifetime achievement awards and he was scheduled to receive a third award next month which has been rescinded by the chapter. Sterling reportedly financially contributed to the United Negro College Fund, 100 Black Men and Black Business Assocation.

Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner since February of this year, boldly and immediately banned Sterling from the NBA for life and any association with the Clippers or NBA. Silver said Sterling would be forced to sell the Clippers and pay a $2.5 million fine. Silver said the NBA will not tolerate racism.

Whether Silver’s proposed reprecussions will stand-up in court is anyone’s guess. However, Silver had no choice, for the well-being of the NBA and to keep his multi billion dollar NBA business afloat, he had to please the rich and famous. Silver dare not offend NBA players, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oprah Winfrey, Chris Matthews, and that rich liberal Hollywood crowd. David Alexander, NBA analyst, unknowingly made a statement that sealed the reason for Silver’s outrage. Alexander was asked why there had been no outrage from NBA staff, players and commissioners for Sterling’s past racist behavior. Alexander responded, “In the past, the Clippers were mediocre, second rate to the L.A. Lakers and Lakers were threatened, when performing poorly, to be sent to the Clippers. Fans could get $20 seats at Clippers games.”

Millionaires have received more notoriety following this scandal. They are all over the media, readily giving their views. None of the group seems to be suffering mental anguish and some could become owners of the Clippers.

This Sterling scandal indicated classism, like racism, is a real problem in America. Sterling’s ignorance was ignored until the “big dawgs” were offended. What a wonderful America we would have if the same energy was displayed for the real disenfranchished, including blacks who have difficulty just making a living due to racism.

Sterling’s comments will have no effect on the average black individual or black family. And, those wealthy people who are offended have the perfect response, just buy the Clippers.

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Category: Local, National, Opinion, Sports

About the Author ()

Brenda Robinson is an NNPA Emory O. Jackson award-winning columnist for Frost Illustrated.