If you were surprised by L.A. Clipper owner Donald Sterling's comments or you are someone who, while disgusted, was not surprised at all, I submit the inquiry: Who is responsible for the results of Sterling's secretly taped racist rant? Obviously Sterling will suffer, if nothing else the public humiliation, but the question remains for America: Who is responsible for taking action in this and similar situations? In this case, is it just the NBA's responsibility? Is it really that simple? How does the average American respond? Yes, you America.
I view situations with a prismatic view. I strive to see all sides well and from that clarity uncover not only the core source and reasoning of my personal standpoint but the cultural, political and societal framework they affect. So, while appalled, I was not surprised by TMZ's release of Donald Sterling's racist views -- not in the least. The number of racist encounters family and friends have endured with corporate racism are too many to count. So the reality of this is not a foreign concept. My greatest confusion comes from the confusion of others about the topic of racism. The fact that it is even a question that racism still exists is perplexing for me. Saturday night David West of the Indiana Pacers via Twitter summed it up in fewer than 140 characters: "Make money off the Bucks/Lay with the Women/No Association in Public good or bad."
The situation is disgusting, hurtful and one full of ignorance on many sides. My own 20-something daughters are African-American and so these statements made by Sterling took on a personal meaning. Why would Stiviano place herself in an affair with such a person of racist view? Speculation could take that question to endless conversations, but for now my question remains -- who's responsible now?
Yesterday, I saw a number of tweets and Facebook posts attacking L.A. Clippers coach Doc Rivers for not taking what was viewed by some as was stern enough action. It always amazes me when group think takes turns down self-righteous roads in the name of what's right. You may very well be working for a company owned by someone who holds the same views as Donald Sterling. Are you willing to quit your job because of his ignorance and racists views? Is that the answer? Everyone with a racist employer hands in their resignations? Or only those revealed publicly by TMZ? Because, I'm sure if anyone would ask this of coach Rivers they themselves would be willing to do the same. And the players, they should give up their salaries and placements in the NBA? I'm thankful for the Muhammad Ali's of the world who take strong unabashed stances and are called to be a voice for all -- my inquiry is will the average man/woman do their part. Are you annoyed enough to do something other than tweet or post?
Isn't it comfortable for you to expect the players and coach to do something about the situation such as boycott playing while you the consumer do what? And please understand this, I am all for a boycott of any organization that is acting irresponsibly; however, simultaneously we each as individuals need to empower ourselves to act. Or did the weak "protest" of taking off their team jerseys and wearing them inside out during their first game Sunday night appease you? So what would make a difference? What is the answer for the average man/woman who is furious that once again racism has been spotlighted allowing our nations wounds to be continually ripped open? The first step is for all of America to admit and accept that racism and prejudice is a part of this countries DNA and just like a systemic infection is treated all parts of the body, system, need treatment. But that's asking too much? For many, yes.
Last December, I visited the Lorraine Motel, The National Civil Rights Museum, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed April 4, 1968. While there I reflected on how far we have come as a nation and how far we have to go. I sat on a diner stool while in Memphis very much like the ones young people sat on throughout the south in protest of Jim Crow era segregation and asked myself why in nearly 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement we are still a nation plagued by racism.
This is more than an article can address or solve but I will suggest this as to who is responsible for the Donald Sterling's of the world, as to what we can successfully do about it, we all have power, and that power to large degree is executed by where we spend our dollars, what we give our energy and in what way we give that energy. Are you sincere enough with your disgust for Sterling's racist rants that you're willing to give some of your time? Or perhaps be put in some discomfort for a larger cause? Will you write your local paper to express your commitment, the NBA or your local representative's expressing you will no longer tolerate racism in your community? Will you refuse to buy NBA tickets and demand a refund if already purchased until the organization takes responsible actions against Sterling and addresses the more important fact of the systemic mind set of corporate America in its organization? Will you not buy that NBA licensed player jersey you've been dying to get? Will you turn off your TV and put the remote down? Stations have ratings tracking and if the NBA's ratings go suddenly flat then that is a statement that is one they'll hear, one of revenue and revenue is your power America. Collectives such as Color of Change understand we can shape our world by where we spend our dollars.
America, while we're not defined by this man's opinion, we are defined by our reactions. If you want a better world you can't react from the same sepsis vein of ignorance to heal the whole. Do you want to use your anger and frustrations for the good or give the poison more power? Snoop cussed out Sterling in an Instagram video, great. Now what? We've got to be smarter. I understand feelings of anger, frustration and pain when darkness is brought to light, but anger fueled hateful responses never lead to less hate in the world. Just the opposite is true. We're better than that. We can choose together, collectively, to rise to a higher vision no matter the circumstance or we can continue this cycle of media outburst's resulting in nothing more than a momentary outcry through social network hype that fades into the next headline.
Dr. King taught us to rise above and it's a lesson I hope we revisit more often. Loves results find their way into action and that changes the world. If every person that this story has affected would take just one action, imagine the immense and sudden explosion of kindness and authentic altruism that would take over our nation. I'm not just talking to the big wigs America, I'm talking to you, my neighbors. So many are doing so much to change the world, we may not see the headlines about the good but we all feel it when it is about the negative. Let's use the opportunity to take one step closer to a world where people with views such as Sterling's not only have no place in our societal structure but we the majority no longer give them the energy to grow more hatefulness. We instead strike them down with the opposite of that which they are born.
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Love is stronger.
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