It’s been a good week for those who like to be incensed. Two aging white men said some very offensive and racist things on tape and the media has showered us all with righteous anger. Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers pro basketball team, has been banned from pro ball and fined as much as possible by the NBA commissioner and he may lose ownership of his team. That’s all great. Seriously, I’m glad he’s paying a hefty price.
But this is easy stuff, tip-of-the-iceberg racism.
Bomani Jones, ESPN host, says it way better than I could. On a sports radio program he called out the easy racism of Sterlings comments and connected it to actual, lethal violence against African Americans and housing discrimination in Chicago. Sterling has been a housing discriminating landlord for years, and when Jones exposed this in a 2003 article, no one paid attention to him. But when he speaks his impolite and racist mind out loud instead of just maintaining one of the most racially segregated housing patterns in the world, people pay attention.
Listen to Bomani Jones’s skillful analysis. It gets good at about 2:45. Some key quotes are below. Also read Ta-Nehisi Coates’s article, This Town Needs a Better Class of Racists, in which he writes, “The elegant racist knows how to injure non-white people while never summoning the specter of white guilt.”
We hear all this stuff that goes on in Chicago and all these people who die, who lose their lives. All that stuff that’s happening in Chicago is a byproduct of housing discrimination. … Housing discrimination is the biggest reason that we can point to historically for why we’ve got all these dead kids in Chicago fighting for turf, fighting for real estate with poor accommodations and facilities and everything that you’re supposed to have in a city, poor education, all of this because the tax dollars and everything else decided to move away.
So when all these guys get up here and stand on their soapbox and wag their fingers and start talking about ‘we won’t tolerate this racism, we won’t tolerate what Donald Sterling says’ what they’re not tolerating about what Donald Sterling said is the fact that it was impolite and what he said was gauche. That’s what their problem is, but when Donald Sterling was out here toying with people’s lives on matters of life and death, the media, the NBA, the sponsors and all these people now who want to get patted on the back for what good people they are didn’t say a mumbling word.