I also have two longer and substantive pieces for We Are Respectable Negroes to which I am devoting my mental energy.
And once more, anything that gets black men to lessen their near pathological obsession with basketball is a net gain in my book. I can only dream that Donald Sterling will be an antidote for their NBA addiction.
I have little doubt that Donald Sterling is a racist. I operate from the assumption that racism is the ether that the American people drink, live in, and breathe. Moreover, the fact that his girlfriend is a woman of color, and that Sterling enjoyed putting his penis inside of her, has nothing at all to do with his feelings about black people. One of the rules of racism--both the old school and new school variety--is that white racists can like black or brown people retail and have no use for them wholesale.
However, something about the Donald Sterling "scandal" is just too neat and tidy. A thought. One of the classic maneuvers in spycraft is the "honeypot trap": it involves the use of sex or seduction as a way of blackmailing or otherwise manipulating a target. Who knows, maybe Sterling's then girlfriend, V. Stiviano, sprung her own version of the (racism) honeypot trap on Donald Sterling? Subsequently, he showed the American people who he really is and has always been.
Please do not understand me. White racism does not need to be baited or tricked or trapped or snickered to make itself known or visible. But, white racism is often so omnipresent (and simultaneously invisible) that it fills whatever container, much like water or a noxious gas, that is available in the right environment. White racists cannot resist the impulse or compulsion.
The very smart Kareem Abdul-Jabbar offered his thoughts on the the Donald Sterling scandal at Time magazine's online site. His prose is both lethal and funny.
Abdul-Jabbar has a wonderful gift for metaphor and visually evocative writing. I loved the following:
And now the poor guy’s girlfriend (undoubtedly ex-girlfriend now) is on tape cajoling him into revealing his racism. Man, what a winding road she led him down to get all of that out. She was like a sexy nanny playing “pin the fried chicken on the Sambo.” She blindfolded him and spun him around until he was just blathering all sorts of incoherent racist sound bites that had the news media peeing themselves with glee.
They caught big game on a slow news day, so they put his head on a pike, dubbed him Lord of the Flies, and danced around him whooping.
I don’t blame them. I’m doing some whooping right now. Racists deserve to be paraded around the modern town square of the television screen so that the rest of us who believe in the American ideals of equality can be reminded that racism is still a disease that we haven’t yet licked.Abdul-Jabbar and I are in agreement as he observes:
What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn’t just his racism. I’m bothered that everyone acts as if it’s a huge surprise. Now there’s all this dramatic and very public rending of clothing about whether they should keep their expensive Clippers season tickets. Really? All this other stuff I listed above has been going on for years and this ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge? That’s the smoking gun?
He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing. It was public record. We did nothing. Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and rope. Shouldn’t we have all called for his resignation back then?As an innovator in the language used to describe black conservatives--I would like to believe that I coined phrases such as "black garbage pail kids", or how black conservatives are engaging in "political blackface" and "political fellatio"--game recognizes game.
I will be borrowing Kareem's lethal verbiage (with proper attribution of course) and using it when appropriate.
Please teach me something if you would. Should I be more upset or surprised by Sterling's racism? And why are so many people aghast, hurt, and shocked, by his private thoughts about black people?
Maybe my race realism cynicism about the backstage (and frontstage) reality of white supremacy in post civil rights era America has made me numb to such antics and public histrionics.