This week, the NBA permanently banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for racist remarks. It was an unprecedented sanction by the NBA against an owner. Here, Not In Our Town Community Engagement Director Michelle Gahee Kloss encourages us to stand up to the everyday racism revealed in the Sterling scandal.
Clippers players stand on court during the national anthem before Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference playoffs in Oakland on Sunday. The team wore its warm-up jerseys inside out in protest of owner Donald Sterling. Source: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.
By Michelle Gahee Kloss
As the debacle of Donald Sterling riveted the attention of many this week, it shone a light on (again) the benevolent racism that is so persistent in our country. Like many, Mr. Sterling would not consider himself a racist. In the tape released this week by TMZ he admonishes his biracial African-American and Latina girlfriend for taking photos with black people and posting them on the web. He says, “Yeah it bothers me a lot that you want to promo, broadcast, that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”
But when she calls him on his racism he immediately denies it. “There’s nothing wrong with minorities. They’re fabulous. Fabulous…I love black people,” he says. “I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses.”
It’s these persistent attitudes which torpedo the hard work being done and the gains made by civil rights activists against hate and intolerance in the United States. We can fight against blatant racism and hateful acts like the recent shooting at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park, Kansas by the white supremacist Fraiser Glenn Cross Jr. And the racist rants of the Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy. But until Mr. Sterling was caught his sentiments lurked mostly behind closed doors. How many others profess their support of diversity and inclusion but hold other beliefs in their hearts and minds?
What can we do in our own lives to fight this? How about challenging your family and friends when you hear offensive comments? How about not retreating from the ‘hard’ racial and cultural conversations when they come up. We can elect a black president and pass as many laws as we can, but until it trickles down to people on a day-to-day level it will be hard to change these entrenched attitudes of discrimination and hate that have persisted from the birth of this nation.
Here are some great articles and resources about the Sterling ban:
- This Town Needs a Better Class of Racist: Atlantic Magazine Columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates on the perils of “elegant racism.”
- Deep in the Heart of Don: New York Times Columnist Charles Blow on the recordings that earned L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban from the NBA.
- DONALD STERLING’S RACE PROBLEM—AND OURS: The New Yorker Magazine on the same old story
- NBA commissioner bans Clippers owner Sterling, pushes to 'force a sale' of team
- The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport provides stats on race and gender gaps in professional sports
We encourage you to express your views and raise the conversation about this important issue. Join the conversation at the Not In Our Town Facebook page.