Donald Sterling’s publicly disclosed comments depict an anachronistic view of race relations in this country. His interview tour is beyond incomprehensible, sad, ignorant, and completely shows that he has lost touch with reality. His media revelations are undoubtedly hurtful, not only to the African-American players and staff of the NBA, but really hurtful to many Americans regardless of their race, who feel that finally (as partially symbolized by the ascension of President Barack Obama and others) we have evolved as a society beyond a preoccupation with race. These are people who are proud to live in a nation that has moved closer to an ideal urges us to judge our fellow human by their competence and character instead of their ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.
It was and remains an embarrassing moment, not only for the NBA and society, but surely as well for the Sterling family, who now must live under the stigma or suspicion that deep within their hearts they condone such sentiments by their patriarch. Hopefully the candid peek behind the curtain into the private life of Mr. Sterling can also help us air some of the laundry about race in this country and speak a bit more frankly than civil discourse usually permits. In response to an interviewer question about “whether something good can come out of this,” NBA clippers’ coach Doc Rivers stated, “I think something good comes out of everything.” And that something “good” might be that some wealthy African-Americans might put their money where their race is, and step up to become part of an ownership group that ultimately purchases the LA Clippers.
That is a potentially good outcome, but not for the reasons some may assume. First, it marks a departure from the usual stance that blacks have had towards dealing with racism, and demonstrates the progress that this country has made towards obliterating racial discrimination. In the not so distant past, even if some individual blacks had achieved the financial wealth to be in a position to purchase a major sports franchise, their ability to purchase might have been blocked for other, non-economic reasons. The fact that the NBA and the other owners are encouraging and demanding black entrepreneurs take a leadership role as owners in the league is a sign of maturity on the part of society.
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