President Barack Obama was afforded an opportunity to vent on racism when a recording was released purporting to be of 78-year-old Don Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, a One percenter worth some $1.9 billion.
The recording was made on April 9, according to TMZ, and has Sterling expressing some racist comments to his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, who happens to be of black and Mexican descent. On the recording, he tells her he did not want her bringing black people to games:
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“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” (3:30)
This includes, apparently, Magic Johnson.
“…Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.” (9:13)
Cliven Bundy, move over.
When asked about it, President Obama, who was appearing with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, said, “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That’s what happened here.”
Obama, who has been subject to more than a little racism himself, went on to say that, “The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation, that’s still there, the vestiges of discrimination.”
We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often,” he added. “And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why statements like this stand out some much is because there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.
He could as easily have been speaking of the Fox News-Cliven Bundy imbroglio.
The President, who has always stressed our nation’s diversity and that strength that can come out of our differences, said, “we constantly have to be on guard on racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength.”
Meanwhile, despite a history of racist behavior, Don Sterling, like Cliven Owen, says he is not a racist. TMZ reports that a statement to them insists that,
Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life.
Right. Got it. This is a guy who has been sued twice by the federal government because he didn’t want to rent apartments to blacks and Latinos, and we’re supposed to be surprised he doesn’t want them at his games? Or around his girlfriend?
Trickle down? Give the rich more money so we can have more? Really? Even apartments don’t trickle down if your skin is the wrong color.
I’m having a hard time with that.
The NBA will investigate Don Sterling. As Obama said, the NBA has “an awful lot of African American players, it’s steeped in African American culture. And I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this.”
But Don Sterling is sorry anyone thinks he is a racist. You bet he is. But not as sorry as he will be if the tape turns out to be genuine. And it’s easy to imagine that’s really what he is thinking about. Not the people he dehumanized through his words, but the declining profits in his pocket that will result.
President Obama, meanwhile, did what he does best, and used this opportunity to educate and to cite our diversity in a positive way.
Photo from Yahoo.com
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.