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Donald Sterling proves racism exists

Donald Sterling is still under investigation by the National Basketball Association for comments he allegedly made. He’s innocent until proven guilty. However, the post below assumes he is guilty.

It’s difficult to know where to begin with Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments captured by TMZ and deadspin.com. Sterling was in a sometimes heated discussion with his girlfriend about photos she had taken of African Americans on her instagram account, including shots of Magic Johnson and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp.

Donald Sterling could be a portal into our racist society

Donald Sterling could be a portal into our racist society

Sterling implied that he was called by associates to alert him that his girl friend, V. Stiviano, had posted the instagram content.

The story has become so inflamed, even President Barack Obama commented on Sterling’s actions. “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t have to do anything, you just let them talk. That’s what happened here,” Obama said.

Yes, Sterling revealed his racist outlook. But what’s far more disturbing is Sterling’s ability to amass billions in real estate as a racist, confirming that we still live with racism.

“If somebody wants to be racist, that’s all right, that’s their thing,” Former NBA player Charles Barkley said on TNT. “But when you are in a position of power and you can take jobs and opportunity from people, that’s when you cross the line.”

It makes one wonder why Sterling was allowed to keep his NBA team in 2009 when he settled three separate court cases alleging that Sterling’s property managers used racial slurs and that Sterling did not live up to rental agreements with African Americans and other minorities.

Or how about in 2002 when a federal lawsuit charged that 19 of his tenants stated Sterling said that Latinos, “Smoke, drink and hang around the building.” Sterling also allegedly said, “black tenants smell and attract vermin.”

Where was the outrage then? The NBA knew Sterling was a racist 12 years ago, but because he doesn’t want Magic Johnson in the arena when the Clippers play, then he becomes a racist?

This is where sports becomes a beacon to illuminate what other institutions fail to do, and that’s isolate a racist. Sports role, however, as Barkley said, can miss the real damage of what racism can do.

Sports always wants to put a bubble around their players and their competitions. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver attempted to do that with this misguided comment in the wake of Sterling’s comments: “I personally think this situation is most unfair to the Clippers’ players and coaches who have to deal with this distraction in the middle of their own highly competitive playoff series. And in fact, I spoke with both (Clippers coach) Doc Rivers and (Clippers guard) Chris Paul to share those sentiments.”

However, this controversy goes far beyond the Clippers preparations for a playoff series, something that interim NBA players association executive Kevin Johnson revealed.

After a conference call with players, Johnson told ABC that players wanted a say in determining sanctions against Sterling. They also wanted the NBA to look at other racist charges against Sterling, and they also wanted Sterling to be leveled with the most extreme sanctions possible.

As Golden State coach Mark Jackson said, “Please don’t think it’s only the Clippers that have been affected by these comments. I think it has affected us all.”

The Sterling moment reveals to many that racism still exists as a social problem.

Again, Mark Jackson, “I wish I could say its just one person. That’s the mentality of a lot of folks today, and it’s unfortunate.”

Kevin Lynch

Kevin Lynch is in his 27th season covering the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers and Bay Area sports. He also is a guest radio host and pregame 49ers host on KNBR-AM San Francisco - the flagship station for the 49ers, San Francisco Giants, and Stanford football and basketball. Working mainly for sfgate.com, the San Francisco Chronicle's web site, Lynch is expanding into sports' biggest questions and hottest debates such as - LBGTQ acceptance, athlete criminality, the ethics of performance-enhancing drugs, marijuana, locker room culture, sports and gender, sports and sex, sports and money, sports and race, sports and social change and many other issues. He has written editorials on LBGTQ resistance in sports for the Chronicle and has appeared on KQED radio, Comcast Sports Bay Area and ESPN's Outside the Lines to talk about a variety of sports topics. He completed a Master's in Sociology at San Jose State in 2015, which included a thesis on LBGtT Resistant Attitudes and Behaviors in Sports.

One Comment

  1. I do not agree with Kevin Johnson’s notion that the players should have some say in determining sanctions. It is the league’s duty to respond appropriately and it appears that it has, thus far.
    Possible silver lining (and related to other topic regarding dissolving the old boys’ network and expanding front office opportunities): That players are interested in having a “say” in sanctions, suggests to me that this experience has raised awareness in the minds of players about some of the layers of responsibility and spectrum of issues that are dealt with in team front offices and the league front office.
    This is an institutional racism issue as well as Sterlingracism one. Hopefully these incensed NBA players will begin to direct their focus and future planning towards careers in sports management, administration and business so that they will have a “say” in these and other issues “outside the lines.” That just might mean going back to college and earning bachelor’s and/or master’s degrees.

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