*I love me some Donald Sterling.
There is nothing more emboldened than a racist white man old enough to remember when black people were slaves and rich enough to not give a damn what anyone thinks about what he says.
With Sterling, you get to hear firsthand and largely unfiltered what many white people truly think about people of color. Others, when espousing their prejudiced views, dance around what they really want to say, using time-honored code words and phrases.
Not Sterling. He’s either revealing his unconsciousness in private—apparently, in Sterling’s world, people wear hidden tape recorders the way the rest of us put on underwear–or freely declaring his skewed views on national television. When Sterling speaks, you understand precisely why the mothership of racism is sheer and utter ignorance.
I love Sterling because he gives those who believe his kind of thinking is on the wane an opportunity to witness the sad reality: racism lives and breathes in America on levels some of us don’t want to acknowledge.
For a guy who, insist Sterling defenders, is simply a victim of the forgetful ways of dementia, my man sure does remember that he hates black people.
To people of color–to women, the poor and the physically disabled, Sterling’s offensive views and words are all too familiar. Indeed, living among us are neighbors, employers, retailers, “friends,” pastors, landlords, romantic partners, even family members who harbor archaic, hateful and ridiculous opinions about others whose only infraction is being different from them.
But black folk, let’s face it: Sterling’s words about successful Jews helping their own whereas fortunate blacks don’t, is a common thought in the black community. We say that all the time. Isn’t it true that when we are able, many of us believe in hiring only white lawyers, doctors and accountants? Far too many of us hold tight to the adage that the white man’s ice is colder.
As for Sterling’s attack on “Magic” Johnson, sounds like some good ol’ Black Man Envy to me.
It’ll be interesting to see how many NBA owners actually vote to force Sterling into selling the Los Angeles Clippers. If you think there aren’t other owners in the NBA and the NFL with racist views, then you’re naïve. They’re simply savvy enough not to speak them publicly.
I’m not a pessimist. I know there has been tremendous progress made in this country regarding civil rights and fairness. However, I also know that America is a land of dysfunctional souls who live in the tragic grip of our personal secrets, and one of those sinister secrets is our unfounded fear, lack of understanding and even hate, based on race.
Again, that’s why I love Donald Sterling. Unwittingly, he puts the spotlight on something we’d rather keep in the shadows. Somebody give this man his own TV show so that we may either be taught or reminded of what and who we don’t want to be in this life.
Of course, even without a show, the Sterling saga, teeming with characters and plot twists, is guaranteed to grow even more surreal.
Imagine a fictional Billie Jean–represented by attorney Gloria Allred, of course–stepping forward to tearfully admit in a press conference that the kid isn’t Michael’s after all, that none other than Donald Sterling is the father of her son.
Not only could it happen, I’m counting on it.
Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]