*Race is one of the most dramatic and potent aspects in perceptions of the people around us.
As an impolite taboo, like a game, race is played out on the basis of skin color. It is a tanned competition orchestrated by the mostly un-tanned where wealthy team owners as winners reap profits in exploitation of the sex and brawn of their players.
And since skin color is the most visually obvious of players’ traits, it more than any other personal characteristic is whistled for a foul when players blow the whistle on owners. Mr. Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers recently brought color to the court in the Clippers’ version of the NBA’s skin game.
The NBA is a billion dollar international entertainment business where 80% of the players are men of color. According to NBA owner Mr. Sterling, his disparaging remarks pertaining to Black men does not make him a racist. By his efforts young Black men have cars, houses and food to eat. However as an NBA team owner, what Mr. Sterling fails to acknowledge is a skin game in his huge profits by exploitation of Black brawn: a color he otherwise despises as the “enemy.” He is comfortable consorting with such males as long as they do what they are told limited by their color to the court.
Brown is another color in Mr. Sterling’s skin game. By his efforts a young Latina came into a million dollar condo for nothing more than playing the role of his “silly rabbit.”What Mr. Sterling fails to acknowledge (at least publically),is the sexual exploitation of his Brown “silly rabbit”: a color his estranged wife despises. He is comfortable consorting with such a woman as long as she can be paid off not to blow the whistle for a foul on him.
Do owners have the right to whatever their money can buy?
Is skin color the defining trait whereby players in a skin game are differentiated from owners collectively? Unfortunately such differentiations are all too often played out on the courts of life. If America is ever to make it to a championship round of social and civil justice, the NBA must act swiftly and decisively by ejecting from its midst owners who insist upon exploiting their subjects in a perilous game of color.
The NBA did just that last week when Commissioner Adam Silver announced Sterling’s lifetime ban. And as Shelly Sterling declares war in desperate attempts to hold on to her team, let’s see if skin color can once prevail.
Ronald E. Hall, known as the “Skin Color Doctor,” is a professor at Michigan State University and a scholar with the Julian Samora Research Institute. He is also the bestselling author of “The Color Complex.” Contact Professor Hall via: [email protected].