Donald Sterling Is Everywhere.
Not just because recordings of him spewing racist garbage to his Black Latina girlfriend are all over the Internet. Not because the public—and the NBA—was reminded that he is a racist slumlord who has been sued more than once for engaging in pervasive, blatant housing discrimination.
Not because we now associate his picture with all that is wrong with this country.
No, Donald Sterling Is Everywhere because he was only caught saying what most a lot of people—and the institutions they are a part of—actually think, believe and silently support.
When you think about it, Donald Sterling is less of an anomaly and more of an American mouthpiece. Because people who think just like him own hospitals, fund research, own universities, churches, corporations, law firms, media conglomerates, are politicians, pastors, on the PTA, own grocery stores, dentist offices and are even community organizers.
Donald Sterling and his beliefs are everywhere and we would do well to remember that.
We seem to forget that “race mixing” (i.e. integration) in public spaces is a recent experiment. After decades of struggle for Civil Rights, Blacks “won” the legal right to sit next to White people live in a society where we could not be denied access to resources merely due to the color of our skin. But the very idea of integration was so rejected and despised that when the first public schools were forcibly integrated, National Guard troops were deployed to block Black students from entering into the school.
And in the 50+ years since the introduction of integration into the American slave mentality society, Black people have won additional legal and legislative battles in an effort to continue the struggle for civil rights. But those victories didn’t change how many people—Donald Sterling included—think about racism and what it means actually have to live, work, shop, eat, or be educated next to “the Blacks”.
The very same “Blacks” that their parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, leaders, teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges, pastors, missionaries, bosses and co-workers had taught them to hate. For generations.
This is, after all, the very essence of “white flight.” The notion that Whites must flee neighborhoods that have too many Black people. Because they believe that we, by our mere presence, bring down the value of the very environments in which we live.
The Power of Haters
You have to remember that hating Black people was absolutely necessary in order to make slavery thrive. After slavery, hating Black people was still necessary in order to keep Black people in a position inferior to that of White people. During Jim Crow hating Black people was required in order to excuse mass lynching campaigns and the destruction of uppity Black towns and cities.
After the Civil Rights Era, hatred for Black people dictated policies that ensured that no matter how many of us actually made it out of red-lined ghettos and into the 2 seats made available at your local racist college via the despised and barely tolerated Affirmative Action program, that the masses of us would still maintain an inferior quality of life.
Hating Black people is what makes America what it is. America can’t operate as it always has without a healthy does of man-made hatred for Black people.
That hatred didn’t go away when Black folks won those legal victories. It went under ground. That hatred put its Klansman Hood and Cross Burning Membership Card in storage (for use at a later time) and evolved into what we now call “politically correct polite society.”
Donald Sterling Is Everywhere because he (and the racist policies he implemented in his business dealings and private life) symbolizes the notion that so long as that hate goes underground and only uttered in private spaces and whispered about in board rooms—nursing that hatred is fine.
Hate Springs Eternal?
“If you sit at any meeting and see no African Americans on the staff or if you’re in any production meeting or a partner in an all White law firm the people are saying the same thing as what Bundy or Sterling said. The comment is still the same. We don’t want you. We’re not going to hire you; we don’t want anything to do with you.”
The Donald Sterlings of the world don’t like us very much and instead of shouting it from the mountain tops they let their choices speak for them. And because they are in positions of power – those choices often have a direct impact on Black folks’ quality of life.
Donald Sterling Is Everywhere because he is the verbal symbol of how America operates. He is everywhere because when we look closely we see that Donald Sterling speaks more for America—and American racial hatred—than most of us care to admit.
Donald Sterling speaks for the corporations that hire as few of us as possible and only do so when forced to by court decree or protest.
Donald Sterling speaks (literally) for the racist housing developers that refuse to rent to Black people.
Donald Sterling speaks for car companies that give Blacks higher interest rates and charge hire prices.
Donald Sterling speaks for the banks that gave Blacks and Latinos piss poor loan products and mortgages that ended up eliminating more than fifty percent of Black wealth during the housing crisis.
Donald Sterling speaks for the teachers who believe that “Black kids just don’t want to learn.”
Donald Sterling speaks for police officers who see no problem with mutilating Black bodies in the name of fake justice.
Donald Sterling speaks for social workers who have no problem removing mass amounts of Black children from homes where their parents committed the crime of being poor.
Donald Sterling speaks for politicians who enact every conceivable policy they can to perpetuate institutional racism and call it a budget (hey there Paul Ryan!).
Donald Sterling speaks for lawyers who participate and perpetuate a racist criminal justice system.
Donald Sterling speaks for the Army personnel who specifically identified ethnically Black hair as unlawful.
Donald Sterling speaks for the schools that tell Black girls the way that their hair grows out of their head is inferior.
Donald Sterling speaks for the Black owned institutions that agree with those institutions and forbid Black students from wearing the hair God gave them (hey Hampton University!)
Donald Sterling is as American as apple pie and lynch mobs. The question we have to ask is what happens when Donald Sterling is our boss, our secretary, our cable guy, our politician, our pastor, our OBGYN, our dentist, our neighbor or our friendly neighborhood police officer.
What do we do when we have tied our economic livelihoods to a man like Donald Sterling? What do we do when we trade in independently owned Black institutions for ones owned by people who think Donald Sterling is right? More importantly—where do we go from here?
What do you think? Do you know any Donald Sterlings? How should our community respond when the Donald Sterlings of the world now have the power to dictate our quality of life? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Looking for more thoughts from an Afro State of Mind? Check out my book Afro State of Mind: Memories of a Nappy Headed Black Girl now available on Amazon.com in paper back or e-book! And if you want to stay connected follow me on Twitter, “like” Afro State of Mind on Facebook or catch up on my latest youtube videos!