Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Unrighteous indignation?

Today a seemingly historic and courageous decision was made by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. While I think the decision is the correct decision given Donald Sterling's history, there are many questions that need to be answered before this chapter can close in my mind.

Many people want the whole saga to go away and expect that this decision will allow that to happen. There is little pity for Sterling and the legal battle which will surely follow this decision will gain no empathy from most people. Sure there will be some other pure racists that will hail his speech, but their voice will not be heard.

This is not my concern. My first concern is exactly what verification process did the NBA use to come to the conclusion that Sterling was, in fact, the speaker on the released audio clips. There is a reason for this concern. By making such a swift and sweeping decision and being lauded for his actions, Adam Silver has gained leverage which is ripe for abuse.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The universal acclaim for his actions have given Silver the potential for absolute power which  is just one troubling outlier from this difficult day in American sports history.

Continuing on in this train of thought, let us be honest; Ms. Stiviano is hardly honorable in  her own right. She knowingly had an affair with a married man more than twice her age. She is accused of embezzling nearly $2 million from the Clippers. Suddenly, in the face of such public criticism, she comes up with a tape and delivers it to TMZ? The authenticity of the tape should create at least a modicum of doubt to its truth.

Does this mean I think it is completely fake? No. Sterling has a history of discriminatory actions and there is no doubt in my mind he has serious problems. But why no condemnation for a woman that slept with a married man, ostensibly for monetary reasons, then misused that trust to create a tape which she knew to be for less than honest reasons? She is just as despicable a human being as Sterling, in my opinion.

Then there is the self-righteous "indignation" of the press.

White and black writers alike are patting each other on the back for their "groundbreaking" condemnation of Sterling while commending Silver for his decisive actions today.

But ask yourself how many of the self-righteous, high-horse riding writers have racist tendencies themselves? There are too many people who you know when they see a black kid with baggy pants walking close to their car lock the doors. It happens. These sanctimonious writers talking about eliminating racism? They lock their doors.

Fears that are based on stereotypes are not going to go away because Adam Silver made an 80 year old man sell his team for over $1 BILLION... this will not eliminate racism. The vast majority of sports franchise owners are still old, white men.

Ask yourselves why the NBA created dress code policies. Ask why they created rules to cover up things that fit into the racial stereotypes. The NBA has long been in the business of making their players look like the average man. I call it bleaching. They have, in their own very clever manner, created a sort of league wide cultural bleaching. The NBA owners wanted their players to more closely resemble them; so they legislated it to be. Adam Silver was around for these policy changes.

The NBA owners will undoubtedly vote to force Sterling to sell the Clippers... and they will continue to bleach their league to closer resembling what they want to portray.

They are fooling us into thinking this was about racism. It was about public relations. Had this audio gone straight to Silver, and not made it to TMZ, do you really think the result would have been the same? Really? I don't. History backs up my doubt.

Do you think Ms. Stiviano did this for race relations? Then you are completely naive. She did this as a punishment for the pending legal issues she still faces. There was likely a form of blackmail involved here. And yet we all blindly follow along with the praise towards Silver because it takes us back to a status quo where we can pretend only bad people like Donald Sterling hold these views. We will sweep it back under the rug and forget it exists.

Do you want to see racism in action? The next time you see someone of color and feel a little twinge in your stomach; then feel a compulsion to lock your car doors. Look in the mirror and you will see the real face of the problem. Donald Sterling is not the problem; he is a symptom.

The problem? We need a villain to make ourselves feel better. Rather than solve the problem we look for somewhere to lay blame. That is the new American way, blame someone else for my troubles.

And the problem continues on.

Silver's decision was neither historic nor courageous. It was self preservation public relations.

And in his actions, not only did he not eliminate any form of hate, he exacerbated the problem by giving us a villain that allows us to fall back into our own ignorance.
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