There seems to be a large sigh of relief now that Adam Silver has dropped the Thor hammer on Donald Sterling. Now is the time to take a quick breath to regroup and refocus on the larger issues at hand. If we all simply breathe easy knowing that we helped to get one racist out of here, then we are letting the other atrocities continue by ignoring them. The institutions that allowed Donald Sterling to be enabled for years should be held accountable for their actions now too. Housing discrimination is not as juicy to talk about as a leaked tape from a mistress but the former has a far reaching impact that we brush aside on a daily basis. There are those who have been beating this drum for years though, so why didn’t more of us listen?
The questions for the LA NAACP who wanted to give not one but two awards to Sterling needs to face serious questions. You may say that he was able to buy his way to awards through donations and free tickets but let me ask you this: at what point do we stop selling our dignity?
To the companies that pulled or suspended their sponsorships from the Clippers in wake of Donald Sterling’s racism showing itself in public again, where were you before this when in 2006 Sterling said this is a sworn deposition: “That’s because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they’re not clean. … And it’s because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day.”
To the players and coaches on the Clippers who were unfairly placed in the middle of this storm: I understand that you all did not ask to put in this. However, when Doc Rivers who played for the Clippers in ’91-92 and forced his way into his coaching position there, tells us he didn’t know about Sterling’s past, I have to say you aren’t being truthful. Former players like Baron Davis have come out and said they knew what the deal was with Sterling so why wouldn’t Rivers?
The media and fans are lumped together in this for me. Could the media have done a better job of pushing the stories that the people in LA knew about for years? Absolutely. However, when those stories got ran, did the fans support them by reading them, sharing them, and then organizing their actions to bring Sterling down? Nope. So when I’m told by fans and media alike on Twitter that why did it take this scandal to galvanize everyone, my response is where were you? His attitudes towards women have been known for years since in 2003 he said this during a lawsuit from a former mistress who sued him in 2003: “When you pay a woman for sex, you are not together with her. You’re paying her for a few moments to use her body for sex. Is it clear? Is it clear?”
At the end of the day, many people were complicit in enabling Donald Sterling to be what he is. Instead of everyone placing blame and wagging their fingers, lets just start by admitting that a lot of media, fans, companies, players, coaches,etc dropped the ball. The problem with doing that is that it doesn’t make people feel good. What makes us feel good is telling people I told you so. It makes us feel better to hide our guilt or shame by piling on Donald Sterling now. The ultimate blame here belongs at the door step of the racist in this equation though, Donald Sterling. Make no mistake about it, we should pile on him and he deserves everything he gets, but the larger point is we have the tools and voice to stop the next Donald Sterling from being a racist right to our faces without doing anything.
My point here is not to just rip everyone with no reason. I simply wish to point out again how we many of us were guilty of enabling Donald Sterling. I am to blame in this as well because I too have a platform that can be better used to smoke these things out. My biggest hope from this whole situation is that we continue to point out real life racism that happens everyday and not hide from it because race is uncomfortable to talk about in America.