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.