The Great Debate

Donald Sterling: Pariah

Amid the outcries over Los Angeles Clipper owner Donald Sterling’s heinous comments about African Americans, something is likely to be overlooked. The response to Sterling in both degree and magnitude was different from that of previous instances of racist ignorance — which shows just how much times have changed when it comes to race.

This time, there was no backtracking, no trimming, no apologies or excuses, no veiled support of the “yes-but” variety. Sterling was slammed with the weight of the world.

He is a pariah. National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver has now even taken the unprecedented step of formalizing Sterling’s non-personhood. He can have nothing whatsoever to do with professional basketball. He is through — an old man with a life sentence.

Those condemning Sterling’s racist remarks have harkened back to Los Angeles Dodgers Vice President Al Campanis, CBS football analyst Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder and Cincinnati Reds Chief Executive Officer Marge Schott as Sterling forebears. All three voiced similarly silly sentiments.

In 1987, on the 40th anniversary no less of Jackie Robinson’s major league debut, Campanis told a Nightline audience that the reason there weren’t more black managers is that they lacked what he called the “necessities.” He added that there were no great black swimmers either — because blacks lacked “buoyancy.”

An America beyond black and white

America is growing too complicated and mixed — very brown, I would say.

Everyone is becoming everything. And the old man was a fool not to see it.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is on record pleading with his companion, V. Stiviano, not to be seen in public with black people and certainly not to post pictures of herself on the Internet with black athletes — particularly Magic Johnson.

But the most ironic thing about his comments is that Sterling was often seen and photographed at Clippers games sitting alongside Stiviano, a woman much younger than he and who is, by her own description, Mexican and black.

In the parlance of modern-day Los Angeles, Stiviano is a “Blaxican.”