Donald Sterling and Racism

The story that erupted this weekend regarding LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been brought to a head this afternoon by the NBA issuing a lifetime ban on Sterling and making sure he sells his portion of the team so he has nothing to do with the NBA ever again.

The audio tape that was leaked over the weekend was confirmed to be Sterling saying horrific racist things. (Which makes junk journalism entities like TMZ way better at investigative reporting than “true” journalism stalwarts like the LA Times, by the way.) But the more I try and read about this situation, the more confusing it gets. (And there is no way I am trying to get Donald Sterling off the hook, by they way.)

CBS Sportsline had a couple of columnists over the weekend reminisce over Sterling’s attitude in the past. Then, we read of lawsuits filed regarding Sterling’s business practices that were blatantly racist over the past several years. Then this report and along with it a video that talked about how the LA NAACP was about to give Sterling a lifetime achievement award.

A man that has a history of racist actions, where people heard him in private say racist things, and now a junk journalism group that exposes the guy to the point where the NBA finally moves to ban him. What a country.

We are outraged… and rightly so.. but think of this. We are outraged because a junk journalism group that cares nothing for morals exposes a guy so they can get better exposure for their business. They really have no moral high ground here.

We are outraged… and rightly so… but after years of other “journalists” letting Sterling get a pass when they apparently heard things out of his mouth… where they heard stories of coaches that no longer coached for this owner… the stories they told of Sterling’s attitudes… All those years… and it is a profit driven junk journalism group looking for a monetary edge that sends us into a fit.

What a country.

This is a place where we all can find ourselves. We are hopefully not a lot like Donald Sterling. But we may be like a sports journalist. We hear someone say something “off color” and we chalk it up as, “Did I hear that right?” or “Well, he’s getting up there in years…” or, “If I say something I won’t get asked back to the party.”

We all fear confrontation. It costs us. When we speak up and we’re the only ones, we risk. But what if one of those journalists had heard something, or interviewed a former coach, and found out these things and said, “You know what? I can’t just let it go. This guy is a piece of *#@! and deserves to be exposed.”

What if, along the way, someone had had some guts in the LA NAACP office to say, “You know what? This guy has a public record of treating people of color with disdain in his businesses. Why in the world are we awarding him this thing? Just to get his money?”

But we fear confrontation. At any level.

TMZ isn’t moral. TMZ is a capitalist driven machine that cares little for the subjects of their stories. They are paparazzi with a TV show. They didn’t confront. They made a buck.

We may not be Donald Sterling… and I pray to God we’re not…

But we may be more like dozens of people who really knew this guy in years past and refused to speak up because they thought it might cost them a job or an interview or an invitation to the party. Too often, that’s us.

It’s been me in some situations. I’ve been burned. I raised my voice and nothing happened. Know what I did the next time I had an opportunity to “speak up?”


I thought, “Hey, I learned my lesson. They don’t want to hear truth.”

Think of Jeremiah saying that same thing. He was called to a people God told him would NOT listen to truth… ever. Jeremiah tried to shut up a couple of times, but he knew he had to keep talking.

Somehow, we need more prophetic guts than the people surrounding Donald Sterling.

To stand up when we see abuse. To stand up when we see racism. To stand up when we see injustice.

And to stand, even if we’re ignored.

God help me.


Speaking the Truth Doesn’t Always Work Out

25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (2 Tim. 2:25-3:5, NIV)

There is a need to stand for truth. There is a need to understand the truth of the Kingdom of God and stand. But there are harsh realizations, and Paul is unafraid to state them. We may be bold in proclaiming what is right, but that doesn’t mean people will readily listen. There are times people respond to the Spirit… and there are times they do not.

It’s not our call. Our call is to keep speaking the truth in love and living out Kingdom rightness. Our task is to believe and proclaim. The Spirit is really good at sorting out the rest. Let him.

Rules for Writing in a Socially Unaware World

You’ve run into them. I’ve run into them. After several years of actually having cell phones, one would think some sort of etiquette would develop, but it doesn’t.

I can be preaching and someone’s cell phone will go off. Instead of scrambling to get the thing silenced, everyone keeps acting like it’s not theirs. Then, inevitably, someone realizes: “OH! That’s ME!”

Most of the time, they will then hit the button that sends the caller to voicemail, and then proceed to put the phone back without putting it on silent. The caller, who really wants to talk to them, calls again.

Occasionally there will be someone who will actually put the phone on silent.

Of course, you will still get the ones who finally realize it’s their phone… and answer it.

“Oh, hold on!”  they will say in world’s loudest whisper. Then, they will get up, climb over three people, and head for the exit, which is now about three football fields away. (All the while they will keep on whispering loudly into their phone, “Hold on!”)

One meeting I was at the phone rang, the guy picked it up, cupped his hand over the phone like it was a private conversation, and proceeded to talk while the guest speaker was still trying to present. The cupping motion only created a bit of a megaphone effect so we could perfectly hear what he was saying. It also didn’t help that the man was an older gentleman and hard of hearing himself.

It seems the more “socially connected” we are… the more socially unaware we have become. We just give so little regard for the surroundings.

Blogging is no different. Other social outlets are challenges. Someone makes us mad and we write away on our blog or Facebook page and scream at someone who will never read what we are upset about. I’ve done it.

It feels good. I’m not gonna lie.

Dealing with difficulties is always a tough deal. The best way to deal with a disagreement is privately.

I remember several years ago the editor of a local paper had written one of the worst editorials I had ever read. It was shamelessly one-sided and so out of balance I just couldn’t believe my friend had written it. I knew his viewpoints and knew I could disagree with him, but the tone of the editorial was over the top, even for him.

Instead of writing an editorial response, I called him. I let him know how it came across and we had a tough conversation. It helped him see how some things really do get blown out of proportion.

Most of the time, we don’t care. we let them get blown out of proportion. It makes for good press, as they say.

But tough matters need to be dealt with on a closer level. That’s what I notice with Paul and the Corinthians. While these letters are now public domain, it’s obvious Paul was writing privately to people. He had to be tough. They were tough on him in return. There are some tense moments in these letters.

And that’s how life is. We need to deal with tough issues, but the BEST forum is personally. In that context you get to hear each other, respond, and understand what words are really doing.

When Paul wrote, it was a dialogue. When he found out his letter had hurt them, he wrote to bring clarity. There is a need to keep talking.

In a day when we just want to yell in public, maybe our best move is to dialogue in private. Put the issues on the table, along with the feelings, and get things worked out. It may be cathartic to yell on a Twitter post, but it is healing to dialogue with someone and get things right.