I originally published this on Isom Kuade Journal.
There will be talk for a few weeks about the recording shared with TMZ about comments that Donald Sterling made. People will shout and call for protests, boycotts, apologies and what have you. I’ve already seen statements from NAACP Los Angeles president Leon Jenkins that Sterling “should spend a sufficient amount of time that’s necessary in African-American communities to prove that he is not the person those words portray him to be or suggest he may be.” That amounts to nothing more than offering an apology for expressing his true thoughts and feelings. And for one, I don’t think Donald Sterling should apologize for anything.
For starters, why force an insincere apology from someone for expressing their beliefs through what they thought was a private conversation? What will an apology actually accomplish? We show so much outrage now over his remarks, but once he apologizes, the “open dialogue” on racism stops and all is right with the world again.
But Donald Sterling is not the problem; he’s simply the lightning rod for the moment. Just as Don Imus was for his “nappy-headed hos” comments; just as Paula Deen was for her use of the word “nigger”; just as countless others have been for their expressions of their innermost feelings towards African-Americans. And what has really changed? Not a damned thing. They apologize and get their hands slapped in the form of a few lost endorsements, but a few months later, the media and African-American collective has forgotten about it. How will this be any different?
The answer is it won’t. Because collectively, black people seem to buy into the “forgive and forget” mentality or they justify forgiveness because of misguided Christian beliefs. As a result, we continually encounter these situations and nothing changes. We will continue to support the LA Clippers, whether Sterling owns them or not; just as we continue to eat at Denny’s, despite their history of racism; just as we continue using our money, resources and lives to make these people wealthy rather than supporting our own communities’ development (See “Dr. Dre’s donations to USC”).
But again, I say, Donald Sterling is not the problem. Why should we be so concerned with one man when millions of our people are being victimized by the entire American system? How many black people have lost their lives because of police brutality or because of state laws such as Stand Your Ground? How many black people are incarcerated daily and harshly sentenced for relatively insignificant crimes, while white people commit heinous acts and roam free? (See “affluenza” and “Catalina Clouser”) How often does the media (which they own) portray black people as inherently evil criminals, but portray whites as simply “troubled” for committing unspeakable acts against humanity?
Donald Sterling and his racist attitudes are not the problem. And his apology solves nothing.