Usually on The Lookout I share my views on at least five stories concerning Black folks in the media but this week, all anybody is talking about is Donald Sterling — the hopefully soon-to-be former owner of the L.A. Clippers. So, I figured, my column this week had to focus on what we should really ‘Lookout’ for in Sterling’s comments.

As you know NBA commissioner Adam Silver threw the book at the longest tenured owner in franchise history Tuesday following TMZ’s release of a racist recording where — like a modern-day plantation owner — Sterling can be heard talking about his players as if they were his slaves.

“I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses,” he tells his Black and Mexican mistress V. Stiviano, who secretly taped him. “Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?” he asks her.

But while much has been said about notorious slumlord Sterling and his long and undisputed history of racism– to include insults he made years ago about how his Black tenants “smell” and “attract vermin” – the issue is so much bigger than the words of a bigoted, 80-year-old man.

The real issue here is the “culture” that Donald Sterling represents.

He said it himself on that now infamous recording: “We don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong,” he explained to Stiviano, after demanding she not bring or be photographed with Blacks like NBA great Magic Johnson or L.A. Dodgers player Matt Kemp at his games. “We live in a society. We live in a culture …we have to live within that culture.”

Hmm, exactly what culture is Sterling speaking of?

While he may now be banned from the sport for life and fined $2.5 million dollars – a drop in the bucket in his nearly two billion-dollar enterprise — trust, Sterling is hardly alone.

In fact, the rest of his “culture” – a.k.a all the other people who feel like he does – are not only still out there, they’re busy drafting and enacting the laws that will continue to keep us legislatively enslaved.

That “culture” Donald Sterling speaks of is represented in the United States’ Congress, where Republicans like congressman Paul Ryan, John Boehner, Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann and Ted Cruz are working overtime to either push or support bills that will cut billions of dollars in food stamps – literally taking food out of millions of poor children’s mouths.

The “culture” is demonstrated in the Supreme Court where Chief Justice John Roberts, Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito recently scrapped section four of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, the provision that dictates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court before they are made. In areas generally affecting whom, you ask?

You got it – Black folks.

The “culture” Sterling mentioned is evident with other team owners, most of them white men who rep a league made up of 80-percent Black players  –who, in my opinion, moved too slowly to denounce Sterling. He made his position toward Black people very clear: “You can sleep with them, you can bring them in, you can do whatever you want,” he told Stiviano, echoing the good ol’ boy mentality shared by many. “The little I ask you is not to promote it on that [Instagram] and not to bring them to my games.”

In other words, “They’re cool as far as working for me …  just don’t bring them to my house or allow them to date my daughter.”

The “culture” is the anchors at FOX News and those pulling the strings inside our police stations, federal and local courthouses, prison complexes and medical facilities. They’re the ones insides the schools teaching our kids!

They’re billionaires like the Koch brothers who’ve got the money and power to give and take away opportunity at will.

The “culture” is Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman and Jordan Davis’ killer Michael Dunn – a man who didn’t think twice about pulling the trigger on a Black teen because he played his music too loud.

The “culture” is newly-minted Tea Party poster-child Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who had this to say to the New York Times recently about African Americans: “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton … And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less.”

The “culture” is vicious, unrelenting, pervasive, obvious yet hidden and unapologetically anti-Black.

From the moment our ancestors set foot in this country we have been at war with this  “culture” — abject racism reinforced by the chain and whip and guarded by the U.S. Constitution.

Today the “culture” openly mocks and disrespects our President, calling him a liar, a monkey and worse, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to appeal the Affordable Care Act just to spite him.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “Judicial decrees may not change the heart, but they can restrain the heartless,” and the spirit by which he proclaimed this is still true today.

Yes, Sterling was booted out. Yes, he stands to lose his team. But the take-away should be that we don’t have to wait for the powers that be to make the call.

We don’t have to hold our breaths and hope the other team owners see it from our side.

We can and should stand up and speak out whenever and wherever there is injustice.

Our job – the next time we run up against “the culture” — is to say, you know what? Eff the game. Playing in it, going to it or watching it is not worth the insult to my dignity and pride.

It is to exercise our enormous collective economic power and just stop buying – whether they’re jeans, pancake platters or seasons tickets – from people who hate us.

It’s to strike, rally, protest and put pressure on any of the corporations that dare to back “the culture.” And, finally, it’s to back ourselves – building up businesses in our own community – so that when the “culture” shows its true colors we have the strength to hit it where it hurts. In the pockets.

After all, we have the power to control the culture if only we would wake up and use it.

I’ve spent my entire career as a civil rights activist and anti-violence advocate. I hear from folks all over the country about how fed-up they are—how much they want change—but they don’t know where to start. It’s not enough just to be informed, we’ve got to work tirelessly to do better. With the “The Lookout,” I’ll collect the most important stories and action items that you need to know about and things you can do each week, keeping you involved so you can create positive change for yourself and your community.

I want to hear from you; what’s going on in your community? What stories or events should folks know about? Leave a comment below. 


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9 thoughts on “Challenging The Culture of Racism; What You Need To Know and Do Now

  1. Shiva Rama on said:

    Great Article! Spot on! “Black People” -from the “Welfare Mother” living in public housing, to the “Professional Athlete” ,to the “Hollywood Celebrity” to our “Elected Politicians” and so on….have made the disastrous mistake of believing that somehow we have “made it”. Our “Collective Consciousness” not to mention our true knowledge of self, seems to have devolved into nothing more than veil common references to the hue of our skin. We have been bamboozled and hoodwinked into believing that the individual-trappings of a nice car, nice cloths, fake hair, and a beautiful home or condo in the suburbs – somehow magically means that we have “made it”. The “Willie Lynch” syndrome is still in full effect. Our people continue to perish for a “lack of knowledge”. For these reasons, among many others, “Black People” have no “Collective Purpose” . We have yet to collectively learn and internalize three of the most fundamentally important lessons that the Creator has mandated for our survival; 1) we must continue to eat of the “Tree of Knowledge”, 2)we must be our “Brother’s Keeper”, 3) we must “Honor our Elders (ancestors) that our days may be long upon the earth”. We need to hit the reset button and get back to basics and focus within, starting with Love.

    The truth, despite the propaganda and false images, is that from a socioeconomic point of view “Black People” today control barely more than 1.5 % of the wealth in America, compared to 1% during the height of the North American days of Slavery. The “greatest ” among us are no more secure, as long as the least of us continue to suffer.It is time for us to define our own reality instead of allowing others to do it for us.We must free ourselves from mental slavery and no one can free our minds but ourselves.

  2. Ive recently filed civil rights complaints with labor crc, human rights commission, cause a former employer had violated my civil rights by taking my job as a whitsleblower, the crc did away with my complaint and refused a complaint form, all of these agencies hold on to your complaints for months and years trying to do away with them,
    while claiming to be of assistance if your civil rights are violated,.this is farthest from the truth.the fbi supposenly oversee your civil rights, some of them can be just as discriminatory.ive read your views and like your honesty of not holding back, but your views are the truth.white folk been pimping black folks in sports, as agents, owners and so forth.we have longed been pimped for profits in this country for years.why they want increase minimum wage, its american slavery in 2014.

    • Joy on said:

      Jiggy my comments are for other people on this blog because it’s very clear that you are an antagonist (if you don’t know what it means…..look it up). Sounds like you need to get a life, and a job. At any rate your comment is a moot point because (not all) but most businesses in this country are owned by caucasians; so most of us work for a caucasian owned businesses whether we are white, black, yellow, or brown. The point is no matter who we work for we shouldn’t be disrespected.

  3. Donna Pierson on said:

    I challenged the corporate racism today at my local supermarket “Bottom Dollar” in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia on why the lines in the market were always under staffed with only three lines open and at least 15 people in each. She stated because in our community the store had more business and that must people who shopped here used food stamps . More business, more jobs,more lanes , better service, more business. However what really upset me was a African American women who said that I should go shop in the White community instead of speaking up. I responded that there are jobs at “mister’s house” Donald Sterling, that are open if she would like to apply. Entry level slave..
    In the words of Spike Lee ” WAKE UP “

  4. Jiggy5 on said:

    Are you suggesting boycotting the NBA? Oh double Hell to the Naw. Ain’t gonna happen, that is our shyt. Whites can’t touch us on the court. Maybe we start our own league.

  5. americanize. on said:

    Yes we have to start somewhere,an that is start doing for ourselves.Whether you want to belived it or not,we are the most hated people on the planet.we have to unite,an don,t listen to the bullsh*t that we are separatist,we are already separated.Every other culture in this country looks out for its people,not us.Until we do that,the band will play on. GOD BLESS BLACK AMERICA.

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