Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Donald Sterling Saga: A Harsh Reality Check

This year's NBA playoffs has been full of headlines: from the Pacer's struggles, to the rise of the Wizards, to the surprises of the Grizzlies and Mavericks, etc.  None of these headlines, however, have been bigger than the tapes released by TMZ in which Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, seemingly engages in a conversation with his girlfriend V. Stiviano about her interactions with black people.  This conversation alleged began after Stiviano took a picture with Magic Johnson at an LA Clipper game; a picture which she proceeded to upload onto Instagram.  On the tape, Sterling confronts Stiviano, claiming that someone had informed him of the post, which undoubtedly upset him.  Sterling went on to make numerous statements about societal expectations of whites to not associate with blacks and minorities and so forth, and why his association however was justified.  Although this recording shocked the majority of the sports world, some were not at all surprised as Sterling was known to discriminate in his Real Estate practices.  I am however not surprised for an entirely different reason: because I am aware that racism still exists, and will probably continue to exist as long as there is a difference in our racial identities.

Being a racist is not an ascribed characteristic; instead, one is taught to hate members of a certain race for whatever reason there may be.  Ironically enough, Donald Sterling was a victim of racism, as he was once prevented from working at a Law firm, post law-school due to the fact that he was Jewish.  It is safe to say that the experience of rejection for one's being either encouraged Sterling to adopt a life of racism in order to assimilate into the norm (of the time) of societal racial discrimination, or Sterling developed a sense of revenge and wanted to take that out on a race that he grew to consider inferior.  Whatever the reason may be, Sterling (if the voice on the tape is in fact his) is undoubtedly under the impression that blacks are not equal to his kind, at least publicly. Why then does Sterling own a basketball team with a black head coach, consisting of mostly black players?  If he is so strongly against them, why then is he involved in an industry which is vastly dominated by blacks?  To me the answer is simple; Donald Sterling has the mentality of a modern day slave owner.

Donald Sterling may personally not like black people, however it is clear that he is willing to make an exception or put up a false pretense, as long as these black people continue to make him rich.  Unlike slave owners back in the day who exploited slaves for free labor, Sterling is willing hire blacks to work for him and even share a fraction of his wealth because the success of these blacks ultimately make him richer.  Sterling is even willing to go as far as to pretend to like these blacks, by taking pictures with them, sharing jokes with them court-side, publicly proclaiming them to be friends, etc. as long as his real feelings are sheltered, and his image is protected.  With all that being said however, the audio-recording, if it is proven to be his voice, is as incriminating as ever.  The man clearly expressed his views and the way he feels about minorities, in particular blacks.  Although it is clear, to me at least, that Stiviano had intentions to one day expose him (hence the recording, and her interrogative demeanor) probably for her own fortunes, her conduct has lead to a harsh reality check for the world that racism does in fact still exist.  Minorities in the music industry can attest to this as well, as the moguls who sign their checks are mostly white males who couldn't care less about their existence, however pretend to do so because the talents of these artists make them richer in their sleep.  It is a sad reality, although one that we cannot ignore, that racism still exists today and probably always will.  The audio recording of Donald Sterling may be of his voice, but it speaks the thoughts of many in this country, and we cannot overlook that fact.  Just as the nation was progressing, with such occurrences as the inauguration of a black president, we are forced to take a step back, as this weekend has reminded us of the reality that exists in the world that we live in.  A harsh reality check indeed.  

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