Dear Mr. Sterling,
Thank you for telling the truth of your feelings. By dropping your guard and uttering those disgusting, infuriating, unabashedly bigoted remarks in that phone conversation with your girlfriend, Vanessa Stiviano, you validated those of us who have been warning the nation that racism, while in public retreat, is still alive and well in the Land of the Free. Thank you for disproving the oft-touted notion that we are living in a “post-racial” America.
Your foul words have done us all a service for they reveal the tactics of the modern enemies of equality. The 21st century American racist pays lip service to brotherhood (“minorities are fabulous…I love black people”) and may even donate a small portion of his fortune toward causes that look good but make no impact on society’s imbalance of power (like the three thousand free Clippers’ tickets that a local NAACP chapter atta boyed you for giving away). While performing such deceptive acts of apparent goodwill in public, contemporary racists take refuge in the secrecy of their empowered cliques wherein they insult, mock, demean and plot against people of color. Thus, the record setting $2.765 million dollar settlement Sterling paid out in 2009 for racist discrimination against black, Latino and Korean tenants of his L.A. apartment buildings.
Your racist rant also reminds us that slavery-era assumptions about black people still hold sway in 2014. From the myth of superior white female purity (“you’re supposed to be a delicate white or delicate Latina girl”) to the myth of white generosity to black servants (“I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses”), the man believed to be Sterling voices the same paternalistic contempt that has poisoned our nation since colonial times.
Of course, the thesis of your tirade is the old idea that it’s acceptable to use black people for pleasure or profit, but not to respect us as equals. As you told Miss Stiviano, “You can sleep with them. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that (Instagram), and not to bring them to my games.”
That fact that Magic Johnson – a beloved NBA legend and one of the most successful, respected and socially conscious businessmen in America – is singled out for the most vulgar verbal attack (“… feed him, f— him…But don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to see.”) proves, once again, that no matter how admirable and beneficial black people live our lives, racists still regard us with bitter, bigoted contempt. As Sgt. Waters, the tragic antagonist of “A Soldier’s Play/A Soldier’s Story” learned much too late, “They still hate (us).”
So, thank you, Mr. Sterling, for your honesty. You’ve reminded us that even though American society and culture are moving in the direction of racial equality there are still individuals and groups – many of whom wield great power, influence and wealth – who are committed to the dark, divisive and socially destructive values of the past. The enemy is alive and the danger to all of us is real.
Thank you for listening. I’m Cameron Turner and that’s my two cents.