“Be racist, be sexist, be bigots, Be sure we won’t stand for your hate.”
-The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, “Let’s Face It”
The word “sterling” means a form of British money; however, that has no relevance. It also means excellent, valuable, true, and any other synonym you want to use. Donald Sterling said some things that could have been genuine personal feelings, but far from an excellent decision.
I joke with my co-worker, Jimmy, at the office on a daily basis, but I never have said the “N” word, and neither did Mr. Sterling. Once when referred to as an African-American, Jimmy’s response was, “I ain’t ever been to no Africa, I’m black.”
That’s not a defense for the Clippers’ now ex-owner; calling someone black is something everyone does so let’s just take that portion of the recording out of the equation. Before people send this man to the guillotine (too late), we will play devil’s advocate and look at the situation from another angle.
One quick note: Jimmy believes that everyone’s reaction to Sterling’s words has been a complete overreaction. Something to keep in mind.
First of all, Sterling sounds a little drunk, but everyone has said something borderline racist while intoxicated or not. If you haven’t, then you’re lying, or don’t have a sense of humor, or you’re not getting drunk correctly. Second, the man is 80-years-old which serves as threefold to his phrasing. One, he grew up in an era where that was how people acted and spoke. I work in an industry that revolves around older people with strong ideologies. About 75% of these people should be fined and banned from their local lodges, but will they ever act on what they say, absolutely not because they’re old and are stuck relating back to their upbringing.
Two, if you really listen to the recording, it doesn’t seem like Sterling minds black people, it’s that he cares about how others will view him if publically affiliated with them. He owns a NBA franchise so that’s kind of impossible to avoid, but maybe it’s actually his peers that are racist.
Three, dementia and being senile are also a definite possibility. Why would a man, who has won awards from the NAACP, who was running an organization in a prominently black industry, who was paying his black employees quite handsomely, and who was dating a girl who is partially black or at least some sort of minority, purposely say something like that? She actually looks kind of weird, he could have done better.
Another factor enters the equation: the emotional instability of a 31-year-old gold-digger. It’s safe to say that young women obsessed with a materialistic lifestyle are not the best source for information, just like TMZ, but the recording certainly sounds as if V. Stiviano is baiting Sterling to say something; especially considering his stutters to put together a complete sentence. Stiviano claimed she gave multiple recordings of the audio to friends for safekeeping because she didn’t want to hurt Sterling, and a friend sold one of the tapes to TMZ (ABC, 2014). Why were there multiple recordings of a phone conversation anyway?
We don’t know the logic behind her reasoning in this scenario because the woman’s mind will always be an enigma to the untrained eye, and that’s a scientific fact (don’t research that).
It just doesn’t make sense that he would say something like, “Don’t bring them to my games.” Has anybody ever been to a NBA game or watched one on television? Outside of Utah, the stadium is packed with different ethnicities. Sterling would never rightfully act upon his words; there’s a better chance of that happening multiple times at multiple East L.A. gas stations in the same day.
With all this being said, he said what he said and it was inappropriate and stupid. He’s now labeled as a lying, cheating racist. Commissioner David Silver banned Sterling from the NBA for life and a hefty $2.5 million fine to the praise of league participants and other owners. People can agree with the NBA’s decision or people can defend the Clippers’ ex-owner, but they need to focus on the bigger picture. Bigotry and over-sensitivity don’t mix well.
To add insult to injury, it’s been announced Sterling is battling cancer.
Let’s face it, racism still exists and it shouldn’t, but let’s face it, there are far worse things you can hear in your local bar or walking down the street; it’s clearly about who says it and to whom, not what is actually said.
ABC News (2014). Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/sources-donald-sterling-battling-cancer/story?id=23558069 on May 2nd, 2014.
Botelho, G. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/29/us/clippers-sterling-scandal/ on May 2nd, 2014