This was originally published on Liberaland.
The normal reaction to Donald Sterling’s racist comments is outrage and disgust; but my issue isn’t with what he told his mistress but rather how he treated people before, and how he was allowed to get away with it. Like Cliven Bundy last week, there is so much wrong with what Sterling said that it is hard to know where to begin. Remember he told his multi-racial mistress that he was ok with her having sex with African-Americans, he just didn’t want to see their
photos on Instagram. From soup to nuts, that is a crazy rant, but what’s even crazier is that not only were people not surprised by his racism but the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was scheduled to give the NBA team owner a lifetime achievement award this Saturday. Yes, they have rescinded the offer. but why did they make it to begin with? In fact this would have been his second NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award.
Donald Sterling is a very rich man. He has made a lot of his money in real estate and his history of racism and discrimination is well known. The Department of Justice (DoJ) sued him in 2006 for refusing to rent to non-Koreans in Koreatown to African-Americans elsewhere in Los Angeles. In 2009, he paid $2.73 million because he discriminated against African-Americans, Latinos and families with children. That same year, Clippers Elgin Baylor sued him for wrongful termination and alleged Sterling wanted a “team full of poor, black boys with a white coach from the south.”
The chapter of the NAACP that was poised to award Sterling claims they asked him about the lawsuits and comments and took him at his word when he denied allegations of racism. They are also revisiting how they vet candidates for awards and returning donations he gave. And President Obama’s comment, “When people — when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. And that’s what happened here,” was perfect but still misses the point. Sterling’s comments and attitude are not the real problem.
The real problem is not that the owner of a basketball team is racist, though that is unacceptable. Donald Sperling’s racist comments and actions were condoned and he was celebrated after they were well documented; that is the problem.