Every so often, The Evening Sun's online '30 Seconds' tab is inundated with comments concerning what I think is a tabloid-ish kind of story.
This week's hot topic by far has been the controversy surrounding billionaire Las Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Sterling made national headlines over the weekend when an audio recording surfaced of the 80-year-old making racial remarks to his 38-year-old mistress. The tape has the voice of Sterling chastising his girlfriend for sharing online photos of her posing with black friends and celebrities, and includes his opinions denouncing the black community as a whole.
Since this story broke, it seems everyone has formulated some sort of opinion, most of which are hair shy of eternally damning Sterling for his remarks. Unfortunately, I believe most of those opinions overlook a much larger issue.
Sterling's in the spotlight because of the comments he made, and rightfully so. They were abhorrent. Nonetheless, I think it's unsettling that Americans have been so taken back by this so-called scandal – as if to believe racism no longer exists and Sterling is the last remaining voice of racial prejudice. I would like to think it goes without saying that Sterling's comments, regardless of how disgusting they were, reflect the opinion of millions just like him. That's the difficult concept that people appear to be sweeping under the rug.
As expected, Sterling was barred for life by the NBA and a charge led by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is likely to result in him being forced to sell the Clippers to the highest bidder. In addition, the NBA slapped him with a $2.5 million fee for his comments which directly conflict with the views of the organization. Think what you want about this decision from the NBA, they are a private club and are able to call their own shots. What has really caught my attention in this process was another comment made by Silver that the team owners he knows are “color blind” and find Sterling's remarks unacceptable.
Color blind. On the surface, it sounds like a generous phrase – the promise that someone doesn't factor race as a limiting condition. But we all know there's no such thing. Color blind suggests we're somehow not susceptible to noticing skin color and negate the fact that even in the 21st century, skin color still matters. As awful as his opinions are, at least Sterling acknowledges he’s not “color blind.” Maybe color ignorant is more fitting.
In the end, I think all this focus on Donald Sterling is a distraction from the real issue that racism still exists and it's still very much a repressing issue. Sterling's case is a reminder of that. The only thing that makes his particular case unique is his money and his stake as the owner of an NBA team.
At least now we know what it takes to get our attention.
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