According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term “racism” is defined as a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities, and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.
Racism has been existence for some time, and to understand the power that it yields, all one has to do is look at how racism has influenced wars, impacted laws and politics and has promoted a system of slavery in the United States. People who have been infected with racism will always exhibit practices and beliefs that reflect in the way they systematically treat or view others, whether it is socially, economically or politically.
Racism is a ravenous disease that eats away at the core of a human beings soul; but unlike most major diseases, this one – racism – can be cured with the right medicine. Sadly, most racists can’t get the treatment they so desperately need, because the disease of racism has overtaken them so much that they don’t even realize they are a racist.
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is one such racist. He has been consumed by the disease of racism and quite frankly, the disease appears to have spread to the point where we need to start using him as a research experiment. See, most diseases are only detected when you go to a doctor and get some tests done. The problem is, Sterling, just like most racists will never go to the doctor.
In my experience, it has never been easy for me to call someone a racist; but when your comments are blatantly put on display for the world to see, like Sterling’s were, it makes me wonder if Sterling could be a racist and honestly not even know it. It truly makes me sick to hear people, like Sterling, spew such racist rhetoric about Black people and then turn around and have the nerve to smile in our face and openly profess how they don’t have a racist bone in their body, while having such internal hatred and disdain towards us.
There are many people in the Black community who believe that Black people, like me, are being too emotional and going overboard with our expressions of disgust towards the Sterling comments, and others feel as if Black people should just let the process play out and let the system work.
But my question is this - what would the response be towards this situation, had Sterling made disparaging comments about members of the LGBT community? Would the LGBT community simply sit back and let the process play out and let the system work, or would they protest and go for blood, when it comes to making sure that Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers were dealt with? You're smart and you already know the answer to that.
I believe the Los Angeles Clippers basketball players had been given the prime opportunity to show the world that racism would not be tolerated in the National Basketball Association (NBA) or in this country, by not playing their first basketball game after the audio recording was released. Yes, I know the Clippers did something by making a statement of solidarity, but the world needed to see more, just like Muhammad Ali showed the world more when he stood up to the federal government by his protest of the Vietnam War. It cost him his Heavyweight boxing title; some money; and most importantly his freedom, but he was and still is respected for taking a bold stand as a Black man in America.
I believe the way the Los Angeles Clippers players handled the situation was based on fear, not on them wanting to let the process play out. Like them, there are a lot of Black people in this country who are cowards in the face of injustice. Many of them hide behind bank accounts, degrees and job titles and some live in swanky neighborhoods, somehow hoping that the closer they get to White people, will help them become less of a threat and more acceptable to them.
What bothers me the most about the hypocrisy surrounding the L.A. Clippers players' response to the Sterling situation, was that these were the very same athletes who stood up and went on strike against the NBA owners to get more money during the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations for the principle of a paycheck; yet when their very existence as a Black human being was knowingly disrespected by a blatantly racist owner, the only response they could give was wearing their practice jerseys inside out and throwing their warm up suits in the middle of the floor. What defiance!!!
Those players on the L.A. Clippers team knew about Sterling’s racist past, or at least they should have; for those who did know, they chose to overlook his racist past and chose to sweep it under the rug for the sake of a paycheck for entertainment. As a player, Sterling told them where his racist heart was when he said in that privately recorded conversation with his girlfriend that he lives in a culture that doesn’t want Black people in it, just as long as they are providing them with some form of entertainment and profit. When Sterling's girlfriend asked him, on tape, whether or not they should take a stand against what’s wrong and be the change and the difference they wanted to see in the world, Sterling said, “I don’t want to change the culture, because I can’t. It’s too big…….I don’t want to change.”
How many other owners, family members and friends of Sterling are a part of this culture and feel the same way? I can only wonder.
These same Black athletes, who are able to play in the NBA and make this type of money, are able to do so in this country, because of the sacrifices and tenacity of those who fought on the frontline for them. The sad reality is, many Black people believe we are living in a “post-racial” society and that they are somehow “bigger” and “stronger” than the disease of racism.
Just because you are afraid to speak up and speak out against injustice and racism, because you are afraid of losing something, does not mean that your decision was the right one; it just means that you made the best and safest decision for yourself. I can't argue against a person doing what they feel is best for themselves. I will say that a lot of the Black people in our communities are naïve and weak, and don’t display hardly any of the characteristics that the Black folks we read about in the history books.
We have to be a voice of our young people, who are looking to us to see how we will respond to racism and injustice. We must begin to have some meaningful dialogue with our young people and between all races in order to better understand one another and close the gaps.
A disease is said to be incurable if there is always a chance of the patient relapsing, so just like with any disease, racism will be incurable if you have individuals who refuse to get the cure they so desperately need to be healed of the disease of racism.
So ask yourself, if racism is a disease, am I sick? You might be surprised with your diagnosis.