If you’ve tuned in to any news outlets in the past couple days, you might know that the Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling was recorded making extremely racist comments, and now NBA commissioner Adam Silver is fining him $2.5 million and banning him from the NBA for life (see story here). Pretty much everyone on the planet is understandably outraged at Sterling’s views.
First and foremost, I would like to express my opinion that Sterling’s remarks are NOT okay. Racism is bad. Yes, Sterling should face some consequences. Absolutely.
But I want to know how punishing Sterling like that is gonna change anything.
(I also feel badly that the Clippers as a team [players and staff] have to suffer public condemnation and lose sponsors because their owner is a big fat jerkface.)
But fining and banning said big fat jerkface doesn’t make racism go away. I sincerely doubt it changes his (or anyone else’s) views about people with different skin colors.
I don’t have the answers. What I do have is the hope that this situation starts dialogues in lots of places across America. I hope that people everywhere reexamine their own views. Yes, we’ve come a long way from segregation and “separate but equal.” I hope that people realize that we still have a ways to go.
Because the only way prejudice is going to diminish is if we open people’s minds. Just because someone is a different color, or gender, or sexual orientation, or religion (etc!) than you, it doesn’t make them any better (or worse). Maybe, just maybe, if you have a real heart-to-heart conversation with people different than you, you can learn something wonderful. Everybody’s human. Everybody’s got a story to share. Just take a moment to listen.
And if you have another moment, I’d like to direct you to a really thought-provoking editorial on Time.com by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He’s got quite the writing prowess to go with his crazy athletic skills.