Racism Beyond Donald Sterling


(The New Yorker) – While there is more than one national conversation about race going on almost every day, nothing is really happening, as far as I can determine, that really has a chance of getting at what this country does about race on a consistent basis.

Now that the National Basketball Association has responded to the “outrage” over Donald Sterling’s most recent racist behavior, meting out punishment that bans him for life from any association with the league or with the Los Angeles Clippers, the team he owns, including games and practices, the public may be somewhat mollified. There is also a two-and-a-half-million-dollar fine and a promise that the N.B.A. will work to force the Clippers’ sale. But, as a longtime basketball fan who tried out for my segregated high-school team at a time when it was acceptable, in polite society, to talk about people like me in the way Donald Sterling did, my problem is that the punishment is related only to his recent verbal nastiness and not to his past, long-term behavior.

Earlier, I heard television commentators promoting the “historic,” “bombshell” presser by Adam Silver, who is fairly new in his job as N.B.A. commissioner. Afterward, various well-respected observers offered positive reactions to the punishment. And yet, while Sterling may be barred from associating with the team, there is no sign that he is about to disassociate himself from his views. According to Silver, Sterling did not express remorse; instead, he said that the remarks, caught on tape, accurately reflect Sterling’s beliefs. There was not, as is often the case after some racially painful public comment, any pretense that Sterling had been misunderstood, or that he had misspoken—or that anything could or should be done about that. As with the responses to so many others who express similarly unsavory views—most recently the cattle farmer Cliven Bundy, who wondered if folks like me weren’t better off during slavery—nothing that I can decipher addresses their deeply held positions, or the divisions and inequalities they attempt to rationalize.

Read more at: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2014/04/racism-beyond-donald-sterling.html