The proverbial elephant that’s been locked in the room of darkness now wears the brightness of light thanks to LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. In a private conversation with his girlfriend, who is African-American and Mexican, Sterling engaged in dialogue that cannot be considered anything but bigoted and racist.
Listen for yourself.
LeBron James, who is the face of the NBA, had this to say, “There’s no room for that in our game.”
President Barack Obama suggested, “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything. You just let them talk. That’s what happened here.”
In society the Trayvon Martin case divided the country along racial lines.
In American sport Riley Cooper uttering the N-Word for all to see and hear put the sporting world on its heels.
I would venture to say that Sterling’s comments have set both society and sports on fire with his highly ignorant and insensitive remarks about African-Americans.
I’ve long embraced the notion that American sport mirrors society: For all of the social, economic and political chicanery that exists in this country it is paralleled by a similar structure in sport.
For instance, in society the social, economical and political control rests in the hands of whites despite having an African-American president.
In American sport, particularly at the professional level, ownership has been in the hands of whites while many of the games stars are of color.
Since Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball in 1947 just two African-American have had controlling ownership interests in a NBA, Major League Baseball or NFL team. They are Robert Johnson and Michael Jordan.
Jordan, who is the current owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, stated the following, “I look at this from two perspectives – as a current owner and a former player. As an owner, I’m obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views. I’m confident that Adam Silver will make a full investigation and take appropriate action quickly. As a former player, I’m completely outraged.”
Jordan continued, “There is no room in the NBA – or anywhere else – for the kind of racism and hatred that Mr. Sterling allegedly expressed. I am appalled that this type of ignorance still exists within our country and at the highest levels of our sport. In a league where the majority of players are African-American, we cannot and must not tolerate discrimination at any level.”
For Jordan to make such a statement regarding a racial matter is ground-breaking. As a player he was allergic to controversy. He was groomed not to rock the boat and remain neutral on racial matters. For Jordan to make such a statement demonstrates the magnitude of this matter.
Despite the boiling water Sterling will be in and the massive media attention his comments are receiving, I’m not very surprised. Sterling’s comments are likely shared amongst a segment of his white team-owning brethren in professional sports: Sterling just happened to get exposed stating something he truly embraces in his heart.
The lack of ownership opportunities for African-Americans in sports is a reflection of the status we have in the country as owners. African-Americans have been kept out of the money-making opportunities that abound in society and sport because the essence of power and control has been reserved for a select few white males in this world.
African-Americans at large are presented with a dream of sports as a player but access to true power by way of ownership has eluded their collective grasps despite their past efforts.
Throughout the historical development of this country a select few have garnered wealth through centuries of controlling the legislation, politics, media, education and economics of this by way of systemic oppression. Institutionalized bondage was the choice of oppression rather than opting for outright genocide.
Over the past four centuries a massive amount of wealth and control has been accumulated by the controlling power-elite in this country. It’s safe to say they are reluctant to give up what they’ve accrued by way of racism.
In essence, Sterling can be viewed as a plantation owner who pays African-Americans enough money to ultimately earn profits to add to his reported $2 billion dollar empire he has.
Sterling can be viewed as a man who is about profit at any cost who truly harbors negative vibes about a group of people he employs only to line his pockets.
Sterling is a person who can hire a well-respected African-American coach in Doc Rivers and sign marquee players like Chris Paul yet doesn’t truly respect them as men stemming from his bigoted beliefs.
You see folks, racism is not all about color. It’s many times about profit. Bottom line: Sterling deals with African-Americans to help him make money, not friends.
Now that the elephant is out I am very happy. I am happy because down the road this negative situation can be a true catalyst for change in the future for several reasons.
One, African-American athletes are now forced to address a topic publicly that’s been hidden for years. This is an opportunity for the marquee athletes to open their collective mouths and speak rather than adopting silence as a strategy like they’ve done for five decades. The time has come to stand and be heard.
Secondly, this could induce more diversity in the media. To date 80 percent of the sports columnists and reports in this country are white. By having more diversity lends itself to varying vantage points that encourages change rather continually clutching to the vastly white male vantage point that’s being disseminated today.
Lastly, ownership should be directly related to the athletic population. For instance, if 75, 68 and 7 percent of the players in NBA, NFL and Major League baseball respectively are of African-American descent then ownership should reflect more of an African-American presence.
Few African-Americans have been granted entry, in society and American sport, to the upper estuaries of power that’s largely been reserved for the white male elite. The time has come to-not only request entry by pooling the necessary resources together-but demanding to be owners and fight to make things happen.
I characterize racism as the ultimate thief of opportunity. For centuries African-Americans and other so-called minorities have been robbed of opportunities resulting from skin color.
Two African-American majority owners in the past 66 years is no longer acceptable.
At days end it’s about African-Americans, and those who are of like mind, banding together to create a blueprint for future generations to emulate thereby altering the course of this country and ultimately the world.
This is not about Donald Sterling being a bigot. It’s about ridding ourselves of his ilk so the world Sterling lives in his mind will not affect those who embrace truth and change, by any means necessary.