So as you all have probably heard, Donald Sterling (LA Clippers owner) was banned from the NBA for life and was fined $2.5 million for his racist comments made during an argument with his biracial side chick. A slew of tweets, facebook posts, and Instagram memes ensued. ESPN was the first major news outlet to jump on the story after TMZ released the recording. Slowly but surely, other major media outlets such as CNN and Fox joined the media bandwagon of coverage leading up to, what turned out to be, a much anticipated NBA news conference announcing the consequences Sterling would face for his actions. In the meantime, several sponsors of the LA Clippers wasted no time cutting the Clippers loose, for the time being, and news outlets pulled a plethora of black reporters, correspondents and commentators out of the wood works (who knew so many existed?!) to add to the media dialogue.
From a journalist’s perspective, I was interested to see how news outlets would frame this story, which had several components. The component that received the most attention was the racist comments made by Sterling. Also, Sterling’s long history of racist tendencies was pulled out of the closet for the world to see…I mean revisit. Then there is the issue of privacy and free speech, which begs the question of the legality behind Sterling being secretly recorded in the privacy of his own home. Lastly, you had the local LA NAACP chapter that was in the process of honoring Sterling with a lifetime award. But no worries, they decided to return Sterling’s most recent donation and withdraw this reward.
Now that we all know what will happen to Sterling (although there is a possibility he will refuse to sell his team and take this controversy to court), I’m curious to see if the news will drop this story from its news cycle, or decide to dig a little deeper into issues such as the institutionalized racism that allowed Donald Sterling to practice housing discrimination.
After talking to a number of people about this issue, a friend of mine mentioned how he took issue with how racism is often talked about as an individual character defect. He said this takes away from the root of the issue, which is institutionalized racism, and I agree. Let’s talk about how black people and other minorities are systematically discriminated against in our criminal justice system, school system and economic system. In our post racial society that apparently no longer needs affirmative action (that’s a topic for another post), I find this problematic.
I’m glad this story gained the attention that it did and appropriate action was taken by the NBA to begin to address this issue. I urge my readers, and adamant social media ranters to not let this story die as the major news outlets move on to the next big breaking news.