April 28, 2014

The Donald Sterling Scandal: What Should We Do?

Homeboy Sandman at Gawker penned a piece on the NBA Donald Sterling scandal titled Black People Are Cowards.  His basic beef was that black people are simply being too timid in our response to the Sterling comments.  We need to be getting radical, quitting our jobs and boycotting and stuff till Sterling is out as Clippers owner.


I had the following in response.

As a people we deal with a thousand levels of injustice on the daily. While I can understand Homeboy Sandman's desire to see more substantive action and response to the Sterling situation and indeed to a variety of issues impacting black people's lives , the idea that we should quit jobs until we get this or that change and we are cowards if we don't is simply flat out wrong.

Rather than trying to pull every black person's cahones card, I think what would have been a better use of his intellect was to really analyze the situation and think about what substantive, meaningful measures could be taken by us, the general black American public.

While all the brothers on the team refusing to play would be a satisfying thing to see, I'm not throwing shade on any of them or anybody that works in that organization for going to work. Nor am I throwing shade on black people because we didn't all walk out of our jobs over this mess, which in the scheme of things to walk away from your job over, this does not rank. He talked like someone who does not have children to feed, clothe and protect. I have a family and I don't quit a job without another to go to because the boss is a racist (a lot of us would be out looking for gigs if that were the case).

He made lots of sense when he got a little concrete about what we could do and he should have stayed with it. Let me help you all dear readers with that. Boycott is a reasonable strategy in this case. Sterling says he doesn't want black people at his games. I think we should grant that wish and more.

  • I think every black person in America should not watch or attend a Clippers game until Sterling is no longer the owner.
  • We should encourage every non black person we know not to attend or watch a Clippers game until Sterling is no longer the owner.
  • We should identify every other business venture Mr. Sterling is involved with and contrive to deprive it of any of OUR dollars until Sterling is no longer the Clippers owner. 
  • The NBA is still figuring out what its going to do. If their action is insufficient, the remaining NBA owners and the league itself should be the first boycott target.
  • The man is a real estate mogul. Any black people or companies that are his tenants should be encouraged, assisted and helped to move to other acceptable business or residential spaces where ever possible.
Since he is clearly a racist by his own words and past behavior such as the discrimination practiced in his real estate holdings, we know that his racist thinking permeates his business dealings. Therefore:
  • Every other business venture of his should be subjected to public scrutiny and daylight to determine where else his racism is being brought to bear. All his business ventures should be identified, made public and we should spend some time examining them until Sterling is no longer the Clippers owner.
  • We should direct letters to the editor, emails and phone calls to all the local media in the Clippers market asking for his business ventures to be profiled, examined, discussed in the media until Sterling is no longer the Clippers owner.
The above is a pretty decent list for starters. I could think of more, so could you, so could we all. Have fun with it.

These are things I think black people can and should do in response to this incident. These things are substantive, but are also based in an appropriate amount of perspective on the situation. I'm not quitting a job that feeds my family over this fool. That's crazy talk, especially when with a just a little bit of thought, we can make our displeasure known to very great affect without such unnecessarily dramatic foolishness.

We got enough people out there trying to tell us we ain't shit. We don't need to do it to ourselves. We're not cowardly. We're powerful. We just have to get back to using our power for our own good. What is that power? It's the power of our community, of our unity, of our shared history. Of our minds. And the thing is, we don't even have to get as deep as the civil rights leaders that stared down segregation and Jim Crow did. Think about it. Those brothers and sisters went out and told other brothers and sisters in the South, who were living in a straight up racist terror state where the slightest defiance or no defiance at all could get you killed, to do things that seemed crazy. They told them, go sit at the lunch counter, go register to vote and TAKE THE HIT. People did it, and what did they discover? That we could take the hit if that's what it took to get our basic rights under the law to be respected, and history got made.

We're not cowards. We're just unfocused

The Sterling scandal? It ain't that deep. We don't even have to open that civil rights era can of whoop ass to fix this mess. All we gotta do is get in agreement with each other that we are going to be in one accord to collectively turn up the heat on this racist until he is no longer the Clippers owner. We can put the fix on him sitting in front of our computers, picking up our phones, doing a little research, writing some letters and bringing the pressure and patiently applying it. We bring the pressure and we don't stop until the justice starts. So if we gotta do the list above for a month, or a year or a decade, that's what happens. We have that kind of power. We just gotta use it in a smart way. We help Democrats win the White House because 98% of us move in the same direction on election day. IMAGINE what we could accomplish if we started using that 98% power for our own community directly? 98% of our money. 98% of our time. 98% of our investment. 98% of our courage. 98% of our collective will.

Better yet, lets NOT IMAGINE. Let's practice. Starting with this fool.

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