“As you chase success, and probably abuse your own feelings and mental stability to get it, make sure you have a clear understanding of this sometimes elusive goal. If you judge that label based solely on other people’s accomplishments, financial gain and material possessions, know this: bank accounts may overflow, but what good is wealth if one is spiritually, emotionally, and mentally bankrupt“. Life Is Not Complicated: Success
The truth has been revealed. The reaction to that truth has been swift and unforgiving. The criticism has been harsh, provocative and–depending on who you listen to– a battle cry for anarchical justice. Now, I do not co-sign that last one (lawless retribution never solved much of anything). I am however relieved that this time around, the stunning racist rant by the owner of the L.A. Clippers, Donald Sterling, awakened an army of sleeping giants! It’s about dam time. The outrage over his ignorant and offensive statements has transcended the world of sports and became a punch in the face to men and women of all racial, political and socioeconomic classes. How ironic that such blatant bigotry became a tie that binds. Racism comes at a steep cost. This time, someone (Donald Sterling) is going to pay.
As with most of my friends and family (and America), I was not surprised by the biased comments and sentiments on the audiotape. This is not a new condition for a whole lot of folks. Of course, I don’t have to recount the reprehensible injustices that black America has endured for generations, and still does. Anyone who believes that racism (from a white man, living in America, over the age of 60) is some kind of shocking anomaly is either delusional, living in a vacuum or deaf and blind to the barrage of examples that have played out quite openly in the media of late. Cases including Paula Deen’s meltdown, Mel Gibson and Michael Richards’ racist rants and the highly publicized Oprah Winfrey snub (Just to name a few off the top of my head) reveal racism is still part of the fabric of society. TMZ just happened to pull the thread on this Sterling incident, and it is seriously unravelling as I write this! There is no coming back from this one.
I don’t expect this one incident will stamp out racism. I’m not naïve. I am confident that this will be a powerful wake-up call though. The reaction to the comments let people like Donald Sterling know, this kind of behavior will not be tolerated; his kind of hypocrisy and hubris will be addressed and dealt with. Ultimately, the message I want to convey is, we all must take responsibility for the Donald Sterlings of society (Trust me, he is not the only one; he just got outed) simply because we all, in some way, contribute to their wealth, their power. And I am not standing on a soap dish blaming anyone for buying a ticket, or a jersey or a video-game. What I am saying is, we (in general) help build them up, so when they betray that privilege, we must (together) deconstruct them.
Kevin Johnson, Chairman of the National Basketball Players Association put it best when he described this as a “Defining moment in NBA history.” He went on to say “This is the worst kind of intolerance, the worst kind of ignorance and it does not represent the NBA. Players want a code of conduct where they have to hold themselves to a higher standard. Players also want the owners to have a similar code of conduct where they have to hold themselves to a high standard.” I’m taking Mayor Kevin Johnson’s remarks a step further: Society needs to have a code of conduct where people in general hold themselves up to a higher standard. That means we have to stop making excuses for bad behavior. We have to hold others (and ourselves) accountable for the things we say and do. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, however, be prepared to stand by those opinions and to deal with any repercussions.
You have the power to determine how you are perceived by people. If you are a person of integrity and reputable character, it will come naturally. Only people of questionable character hide who they are. Just remember, when you are discovered (and you will be) it will come at a great cost. Just ask Donald Sterling. Players are protesting, sponsors are pulling out, he is facing suspension and sanctions (Do the right thing Adam Silver). Yep, Sterling may have officially fouled out. Some suggested reading for you sir…