Grassroots Commentary

Casting the First Stone in a Neighborhood of Glass Houses

Leigh Bravo · May 1, 2014

The news has been overwhelming in reporting on Donald Sterling and his lifetime banishment from the National Basketball Association. I must say, that I did not know Sterling or anything about him. I am not much of a basketball fan and therefore do not follow the NBA. When I heard he was banned from the NBA and asked to sell his team over racist remarks during a personal phone call with his girlfriend, I was appalled and intrigued. So, I decided to dig into his past and take a look at what Donald Sterling is all about! What a pandora’s box I opened.

Evidently, Sterling has been in lots of sticky situations regarding his belief system towards blacks, Koreans and women, old people and even general managers. He has been charged with civil rights violations, racial discrimination in business and blatant bigoted remarks. He has been sued for sexual harassment, race and age discrimination, and was described as having a “plantation mentality” by his former Clipper’s General Manager, Elgin Baylor. Evidently he has quite a reputation within the NBA family and among most who know him or who have had dealings with him. So, the fact that he is a racist or made racist remarks is no big surprise to most.

I don’t know about you, but he sounds like a horrible human being and someone I cannot even imagine wanting to sit next to, work for, associate with, much less date. However, is it right for him to be banned for life and forced to sell his NBA team, because of some racist remarks made during a private conversation?

I also found other interesting information regarding Sterling and his associations. Did you know that the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) honored Sterling in 2009 with a Lifetime Achievement Award? Did you know that the NAACP was planning on presenting him with another Lifetime Achievement Award in May of this year? The NAACP and Sterling have had an ongoing relationship for over 15 years. Mr. Sterling has evidently donated an unknown amount of money to the NAACP over this 15-20 year period. As a matter of fact, Al Sharpton, agreed to headline the dinner honoring Sterling in May of this year, but after Sterling’s comments with his girlfriend went public, Sharpton said, “No one should be allowed to own a team if they have in fact engaged in this kind of racial language.”

NAACP Interim President Lorraine Miller said, "If you are silent about this, then you’re accepting this. People have got to say that this is not good and do something about it.“

So, the $64,000 question is WHY would the NAACP honor Sterling, not once, but twice, with a lifetime achievement award, and WHY would Al Sharpton agree to host the upcoming award ceremony if they, in fact, knew about all of the racial discrimination lawsuits filed against Mr. Sterling? Why would the NBA now decide to ban Mr. Sterling over remarks made during a private conversation when they did nothing to punish him when he lost a major lawsuit with the Federal government involving discrimination and was required to pay a record amount in penalties?

In 2009, Mr. Sterling was sued twice by the federal government for refusing to rent apartments to blacks and Latinos as well as families with children under the Fair Housing Act. The government required him to pay $2.725 million in monetary damages in this suit. He was also sued by Elgin Baylor, a LA Laker's legend and his former general manager of the Los Angeles Clippers, claiming race and age discrimination and unlawful retaliation. Baylor lost this law suit.

On the business side, CarMax, Virgin America, Kia, State Farm, Red Bull and others are canceling or suspending their endorsements with the Clippers owned by Sterling. A sports business attorney with Foley & Lardner in New York said, "When sponsors are threatening or taking action to terminate their sponsorship agreements that’s detrimental to the league.”

The Clippers have sold out 140 home games at the Staples Center arena that they share with the Lakers. The remarks by Sterling could definitely have a negative effect on the NBA as well as the revenue realized by their popularity with fans. Again, why now? Why are sponsors pulling out now, when Sterling’s history with discrimination was common knowledge?

Is this a question of money? Is it okay to discriminate as long as you keep the donations flowing? Is it okay for someone to be honored by the very organization that represents the fair treatment of blacks, as long as they continue to receive donations to their cause? Is it okay to discriminate as long as it doesn’t affect the money made by sponsors, merchandise and games?

Is it okay to penalize someone, ban them from a National Sport and make them sell their business because of remarks made during a private conversation? Is it legal for Sterlings girlfriend to tape and release their conversation if he was not aware he was being recorded? Do his remarks fall under “free speech?” Can he be held personally and financially accountable for exercising his right to free speech? Are his rights to free speech negated when they effect the financial well being of others? Who will make decisions deciding whether comments are right, wrong, hurtful, discriminatory or just plain distasteful? Who will be the judge?

If we look back in recent history, there are multitudes of examples of racist remarks being made with no fanfare what-so-ever.

Jamie Foxx’s comments on Saturday Night Live about his new film, “Django Unchained”: “I get free. I save my wife and I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that?”

CNN contributor Roland Martin said, “The NRA is the new Ku Klux Klan and their arming of the so many black youths, and loading our community up with drugs and then having an open shooting gallery is the work of people who don’t have our best interests at heart." 

Democratic Governor, Pat Quinn, posted tweets condoning an article written in the Chicago Sun Times that compared black Republican supporters of Bruce Rauner (the Republican candidate) to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis against their brethren: "As a general rule, individuals will sell out the interests of their groups in return for personal benefit. It isn’t just a black thing. Jews collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping them to round up their own people in the hopes they’d be the last to go." 

Al Sharpton: "We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.”

Joe Biden: “You cannot go into a 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian Accent. I’m not joking.”

Joe Biden about then Senator Obama: “I mean you’ve got the first sort of mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking guy. I mean , that’s a storybook, man.”

Jesse Jackson: "Barack…he’s talking down to black people…telling niggers how to behave.“

"That’s all Hymie wants to talk about, is Isreal; every time you go to Hymietown, that’s all they want to talk about.”

Marion Barry: “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go.”

Then let’s not forget Paula Dean, taken down for allegedly using the “N” word over 30 years ago, but Senator Robert Byrd remained in office through 2010 even though he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and lead his local chapter in his younger years.

Who will be the judge and jury? Who will determine what is right and wrong? What is the timeline on offenses? Can the government monitor your private conversations and then use them to destroy you because they feel your comments were inappropriate or were not politically correct? These are all very interesting questions and will, no doubt, be the subject of much controversy over the coming days and months.

But wait, thanks to a new bill introduced, we might already have an answer to these questions. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) have introduced a bill known as the The Hate Crime Reporting Act of 2014. This bill would assign, as judge and duty, the Justice Department (Eric Holder) and the US Commission on Human Rights to decide what constitutes unacceptable speech. If this bill is approved, they will be monitoring the use of telecommunications, including the Internet, broadcast television and radio, cable television, public access television, commercial mobile services, and other electronic media, to find those who, in their opinion, promote hate crimes.

Are you comfortable with the government making these decisions? Does this infringe on your First Amendment Rights? Should they be your judge and jury? Have we entered into a time where political correctness, sensitive egos, and selective outrage take precedence over individual rights? Should those guilty of hate speech themselves, be allowed to sit in judgement?

 "Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones"

“Let him who is with our sin, cast the first stone.”

Click here to show comments

It's Right. It's Free.