All it takes is one tweet (I’m talking to you Justine Sacco), one recorded conversation, one moment of indiscretion to change everything. What’s done in the dark often comes to light.
In the wake of the Donald Sterling fiasco, it’s apparent that racism continues to rear its ugly head. Our country still has work to do.
This isn’t the 1950s and ‘60s – racism doesn’t quite display itself in the form of the KKK terrorizing southern towns or Jim Crow laws and “separate but equal” displays of racial segregation with ‘white only’ bathrooms and restaurants.
But even in 2014, racism is still very much present in ways that we can’t see on the surface. Today, racism is subtle and covert. Donald Sterling’s words remind us of this fact.
Sure, it can be hard to change the thoughts and opinions of one man, but what does that mean for you, me, the NBA, our country for that matter?
Pointing the finger solves nothing.
I don’t think we can say that the Clippers as a team made the wrong decision by playing in Sunday’s game at Oracle Arena. To boycott game 4 of the first round of the playoffs would have signified defeat; however, playing in a game that directly supports a man with a slave owner mentality during one of the most racially charged moments in NBA history, seemed equally defeating.
It appears to be a lose-lose situation for the Doc Rivers and the Clippers, but who are we to say they are right or wrong for their stance?
This battle isn’t going to be won by simply missing a game or even by wearing black socks and headbands and inside-out warm-up sweats to hide the team logo in protest.
No, it’s much deeper than not playing some NBA playoff game. It goes beyond the team, but to an entire city rallying –a nation for that matter. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
3 things to help us in conversations to come.
Come Tuesday, it’s likely that empty seats and crowd silence will open up the conversation even more about race in this country. My hope is that people look at this situation as a gentle reminder that our words matter, racism cannot be tolerated, and ignorance isn’t really bliss.
After all, the majority of the NBA is made up of people of color. According to the 2013 TIDES report, African-Americans comprised 76.3 percent of all NBA players and 43.3 percent of all NBA head coaches.
The NBA continues to be a league that opens up opportunities for people of color. And it is going to take action from the highest levels to resolve this sort of issue.
As we continue to watch this play out over the next few weeks and months, this issue highlights 3 things that can help up us in our broader conversations about race:
- Acknowledge that racism isn’t a figure of the imagination. People are not always going to be tolerant in the most obvious ways, but pretending like racism is the elephant in the room or some issue of the distant past has to stop.
- Refraining from using statements like, “I don’t see color.” To say that means that you don’t see me. I am black – it’s not my only description, but it is one of them and one that I am proud of.
- Familiarize yourself with black history beyond the month of February. Ida B. Wells, Dr. King, Rosa Parks and many others fought hard so that you and I could have healthy interactions with one another. We can’t do better, unless we know better.