NBA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been the center of a recent media storm after TMZ posted a video of his racially insensitive remarks. NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who became commissioner in February, issued a lifetime ban to Sterling earlier this month. His bold stance on the incident has spoken volumes about the public and racial justice.
In cases where the public becomes involved in racial injustices through the media, many tend to value the most seemingly moral outcome, usually on the side of a marginalized group. The most obvious and recent example is the Trayvon Martin case in which a jury found his killer, George Zimmerman, not guilty last year. The case set off a national movement of “hoodie marches” and campaigns for racial justice, including one on our very own campus last year.
On one hand, Silver has brought that much more comfort and peace to our nation by reinforcing how unacceptable racist attitudes are. While this particular situation took place within the context of the NBA, his decision and attitude is relevant in the broader context of our nation.
On the other hand, having the opportunity to hear Sterling’s racist mindset so boldly and completely has shed light on the fact that true, discriminatory racism based solely on the color of people’s skin is still alive and well within people of power.
Silver’s stance has proven to be both firm and revolutionary, being the only ban for racist behavior. Lifetime bans in the NBA have historically involved substance abuse, not racist behavior.
Silver’s attitude toward this case not only reveals his work toward the goodwill of the NBA, but also racial justice. The ban is important for a sport in which 70 percent of players are black but a majority of team owners are white. The decision also pressures other team owners to support Silver and an egalitarian attitude in the NBA.
It is my hope that this attitude continues to preside and that we all use the platforms we have to support racial justice.