Now that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has issued a lifetime NBA ban and $2.5 million fine to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in response to Sterling’s racist comments, we can marvel at the irony of it all.
Sterling, who did not want his girlfriend to bring black people to Clippers games, has now been banned from attending the games himself.
As interesting as that fateful coincidence might be, expressing our outrage toward one racist is just a small victory in an ongoing war. As I expressed when the news broke, there are much bigger battles to fight. Adam Silver acted appropriately as the NBA Commissioner, however. He expressed what many of us felt.
Silver’s strong words for Donald Sterling
Sterling, who did not want his girlfriend to bring black people to Clippers games, has now been banned from attending the games himself. As interesting as that fateful coincidence might be, expressing our outrage toward one racist is just a small victory in an ongoing war.
“The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful,” Silver said. “That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage.
“Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural and multiethnic league.
“I am personally distraught that the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations and caused current and former players, coaches, fans and partners of the NBA to question their very association with the league.”
Actions after Donald Sterling
No one will have to question their association with the NBA for now. But if banning an old man from the league, and pressuring him to sell his sports team is enough to make us feel that we’ve solved racism, we all need to examine ourselves, because even today’s actions leave huge questions where Sterling is concerned.
Will Donald Sterling be allowed to transfer ownership to his wife or another member of his family? Will the NBA owners agree with Silver and attempt to force Sterling to sell? Will Sterling fight the attempt to force a sale in a court of law?
The question on racism is not whether it exists. It does. It exists in classrooms, and in boardrooms, and in workplaces. It exists in ways that are both seen and unseen. The only difference between everyday racism and the bigotry expressed by Donald Sterling is that most racists don’t express their views out loud. They simply deny opportunity to others and pretend there is another reason for their actions.
Racists in human resources can deny employment opportunities. Racists in management can deny promotions. Racist in admissions departments can deny higher education opportunities, and in nearly every case, bigots can deny that racism is the reason for their actions.
These things happen every day, all across this country, and real people’s lives are affected.
Now that the question of Donald Sterling has been settled, we can come together to answer the only question that matters: What are we going to do to bring about change?
Solomon Jones is an Essence bestselling author and award-winning columnist. He is the creator and editor of Solomonjones.com. Click here to learn more about Solomon