Suspensions and Fines Aren’t Enough
So it would seem that the dust is beginning to settle and rather quickly. Black people have settled into their customary premature celebrations over superficial victories while the larger dominant white society smiles and pats us on the back cheering with us. We all shake hands as if we have reach some sort of historic or iconic agreement that will change the world forever, and everyone goes back to work. The blacks will return to their offices, the whites will return to their suites, and we will all patiently wait for the next opportunity to be mad at someone who speaks to a culture that we fail to recognize or do anything about.
For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about Donald Sterling the NBA’s resident and well known loud mouth got his first and potentially only punishment today: a lifetime suspension and a $2.5 million fine. So what does this mean, well basically it means that he isn’t allowed to have any dealings with the NBA or the day to day operations of the team he owns, but he still gets profits. So basically he just got a retirement package.
Now the other owners could force him to sell but with his team having an estimated value of over $700 million and his initial investment being only 12 million even when you adjust for inflation that is a huge net profit. But then the question becomes, what did we really expect to happen with this situation? This man spoke to a culture, what are we going to do to effect that culture, what can we do to effect that culture? These are the questions that I know begin to ask.
The fact that the NAACP has awarded a documented bigot and an open participant in racism 2 times with plans to award a third (those plans have since been cancelled) is now saying the forgive him and are already discussing ways that they can (basically) continue to receive donations from him. The fact that black people are high fiving on the streets of twitter, hugging and dancing in the frames of Facebook. The fact that no one is really looking at the fact that this gesture is nothing but a gesture with no real impact or implications shows that we don’t really understand the depth of what we are dealing with. Either that or we refuse to acknowledge it.
So I would say that while this is a step in the right direction, let’s talk about what happens next, this is not cause for celebration but cause for more planning. Where do we go from here, because I can tell you what, Donald Sterling is about to get a bump in his net worth either from selling the team or from the rush of sponsors the team is about to get for “taking a stand.” Meanwhile he still owns several apartment buildings that house black people, and his still has the power to and money and influence to make life difficult for them, and the culture surrounding him to make it acceptable. What would I suggest, I would suggest we start thinking of ways that we can do things for ourselves, ways that we can have an impact off our own merit without begging someone else to do it for us and rejoicing in whatever they decide to hand down.