Donald Sterling's Equivocal Peer-Pressure Racism

Chris Stevenson I Race & Ethnicity I Commentary I May 16th, 2014

Generally, I seldom put any weight on white American's investigating or disciplining other whites except for the most extreme cases of a mass-murderer, whether race is involved or not. Ordinarily, what we usually get is what I call "police department treatment"; their version of "discipline" followed by long officious-sounding language. This time, however, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised. Perhaps LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling should have spent his money on the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) instead of the NAACP.

Most of the comments in the aftermath of Sterling's horrific racist comments during a recorded conversation with his side-chick, V. Stiviano, focus on his "antebellum" 19th-Century take on his black players. Understand as heinous as those words are, I prefer to single-out a couple of other statements: (1) - "I'm living in a culture, and I have to live within the culture," and (2) - "It's the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are treated like dogs. The white Jews, there's white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?" When asked by Stiviano if the white Jews were better than the blacks Jews, Sterling's reply was "a hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent." This took me back to high school during the '70s and my days of arguing with white boys (mostly from South Buffalo) who felt justified in their racism because they noticed adult, white officials and local police officers around the country hating blacks. This was reason enough for them (of course, many of them had this passed down through their families, but they would not admit to this). But those were young teens, mere boys experimenting with their opinions, trying to formulate a worldview within the safe confines of the suburbs. Sterling is an old man - a pitiful, old man essentially using a childish "everybody else is doing it" excuse as justification.

Interestingly enough, many of Sterling's fellow white Jews in Israel have been contracting skin cancer trying to prove some connection to the original Jews. Sterling must have some inkling that black Jews are the descendants of the original Israelites. He just doesn't care. He's rolling with today.

By his own admission, Sterling is weak: "We don't evaluate right and wrong, we have to live within that culture." Notice his repeated use of the words "have to"; in his mind, the world hates blacks so why make trouble siding with "the blacks"? There's no other alternative - take the easy way out and go with the flow. Sterling blames the world and the "white Jews" for his not wanting his half-black girlfriend to take pictures with blacks or bring them to his Los Angeles Clippers games. It wasn't long ago that anybody of any race attending a Clippers game was a miracle because their ineptness was torture in itself. For him to have the audacity to say these things is mind-boggling on so many levels; but even given the pure illogic of racism, this is a disturbed man almost completely detached from reality. Who chooses to be with a black girl and doesn't recognize she's black? It's like me owning an NHL team, being married to a black wife, and telling my white girlfriend not to bring white guys to the game. The truth is there is and was no peer pressure on Sterling to say what he said to Stiviano, even assuming a racist culture within the mostly-white ownership of NBA teams. His language invokes a loose reference to peer pressure. However, Sterling is his own man and deserves to be punished as such.

Sterling's words can be summed up as "well, right now the wind is blowing white, therefore that's the direction I have to make myself be swept-up in." This calls to mind a scene from Denzel Washington's first major movie "Carbon Copy" where a white executive's whole world is turned upside down after a black son from a previous relationship turns up decades later. The chief problem with the man is not necessarily that he has a son from a black, ex-girlfriend, but his determination to incorporate him into his present, lilly-white world. His boss tells him the wind is blowing white as a hint to make his life easier by denying his own flesh and blood, as well as regaining his white wife, prestigious job, and all the perks that accompany them. Ironically, Sterling blew with the white wind and was in no danger of losing anything until his half-black girlfriend (probably one of many black "side-pieces" floating around NBA team owners) outed him making moronic statements like "I don't want to change the world." It is to laugh.

Speaking of money, it is impossible to discuss his past without mentioning the timely news that he was on the verge of accepting yet another award from none other than the infamous NAACP. The LA chapter of the nation's largest civil rights' organization was set to grant Sterling a 2nd Lifetime Achievement Award, and once you find out who approved of this you'll be singing "where have you gone Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers." ESPN's Jemele Hill said it best when she asked, "How do you get two Lifetime Achievement Awards when you only get one life?" Answer, when your historically local civil rights group is headed by a jheri-curl-wearing huckster of a judge.

A column by Dr. Boyce Watkins disclosed the two pieces of silver it took for the NAACP to put the historically-racist Sterling in the loop: "How much did it cost Donald Sterling to purchase several awards from the NAACP, including Lifetime Achievement (and their Humanitarian Award in '09) Award? Was it $200 million? $50 million? Nope. Sterling was able to buy the good graces of the black community for the pricey sum of $45,000." The orchestrator of this lunacy of forgiving a man who worked very hard to prove his utter contempt towards blacks is none other than Leon Jenkins. You can travel to any projects across the nation and ask for a Leon Jenkins, and roughly a dozen men will respond to you. This one comes from Detroit and, to his credit, rose up to become a judge; at some point, however, the Leon Jenkins in him took over and he got booted from the bench for taking bribes.

A good question would be why was it so important for LA's "The Donald" to be granted awards from the NAACP? Nowadays, a lot of whites enjoy being racist, they just don't want to be known for it. They're white, they want it all. Notice Sterling's prodding V with "you think I'm racist don't you?" "Yes you do, you think I'm racist." Translated: 'Even though I specifically told you not to bring blacks to my games or be seen taking picture with them… I'm not racist.' He wants a freebie; the ability to say, do or practice racist things and not be considered racist. And that, dear reader, is too much to ask for, even for a Kardashian-like, gold-digger like V Stiviano to deal with.

Chris Stevenson is a syndicated columnist, regular contributor to blackcommentator, and runs his own blog, Follow his public accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Watch his video commentary, Policy & Prejudice, for clbTV and follow his Blogtalkradio interviews on 36OOseconds.