Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Donald Sterling Is No Anomaly

My HuffPost entry on the Donald Sterling saga.

Full-text is below.

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On one continent, we have the owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers banned for life for making racist comments -- and a commissioner that doesn't support him.

On the same continent, but in a different league, we have an owner that refuses to change the racist name of his NFL franchise -- the Washington Redskins -- and a commissioner that does support him.

On another continent, we have an epidemic of racist actions in sport, most recently a fan throwing a banana at Barcelona soccer player Dani Alves. Hats off to Alves for his reaction. It takes a lot of guts to do what he did.

(For those non-soccer loving readers out there, Barcelona is one of the most popular teams in the world in all of sport. Not just in soccer. Period.)

And a little closer to home, we have a bigot wrapped in Medieval tapestry who spews discriminatory comments on a weekly basis. Who needs a private phone tap when you've got an archaic publicly-funded broadcaster that's giving you the pulpit you need to spread hate speech?

Donald Sterling is just indicative of the systemic and ominous racism embedded in all professional sports.

He is not an anomaly. He is not simply an old man trying to hold on to the good ol' days of Jim Crow. His "lifetime ban" -- what really is a lifetime ban for a person who has already lived their life? -- will not end racism in the United States, North America or the "world."

Obama's election was supposed to do that, remember?

Or was that Nelson Mandela's fight to end Apartheid and his election?

Or was that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech?

Or Jackie Robinson and Jesse Owens?

Or was that Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation?

For all those people out there patting themselves on the back saying that with Sterling out of the NBA, we have once and for all solved racism, they need to wake up and smell the strange fruit.

Sterling is a microcosm of white supremacy, white privilege, and racism. And when it comes to professional sports, he is merely a cog in the machine.

Sport is supposed to be the one equalizing force in our global society. It's not (supposed to be) restricted by language, race, or class. It's about social mobility. It's the one area where kids from the "hood" can dream to be the next Michael Jordan or Pele or Sachin Tendulkar.

But people also seem to forget that professional sport is a business. It's a business run by racists, sexists and homophobes. It's a business run by people that beat their wives and neglect their children (instead of "KG Sucks," Raptors fans should chant "Kidd is a Wife Beater").

Just because you are rich, or successful, it doesn't make you a good person.

And this is where I have to pause for a second when I read some of the reactions of the Sterling ban from current NBA players. Sterling needed/needs to go; however, to say that the NBA commissioner's job on racism is done is completely forgetting who and what these black men are dealing with.

LeBron says Adam Silver is a "great leader," but forgets that this in the same commissioner that wants to raise the age limit that men can enter the league. Under Silver, LeBron would not have made millions and millions of dollars as a teenager. He could have gone to war and be killed, but not work in the NBA. That might not seem like a big deal, but once you peel back the layers of the exploitative NCAA system, and the fact that very few black male athletes graduate from college while they make universities (and TV networks and sports apparel companies and the list goes on) millions and millions of dollars (while not being paid), you start to see Silver and Sterling are cut from the same cloth.

Before we all join hands and sing Kumbaya, we need to remember one thing:

Money talks and silences racism.

1 comment:

  1. I was actually going to email you the other day to see if you would be doing a post on this story. And, well, here it is. Well done.

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