Donald Sterling’s recent remarks offer a glimpse into the thinking of one of the “one percent.” It reveals that capitalism and racism are indeed joined at the hip and how employers really see the folks who make them rich. It also shows just how Black athletes are really seen by those who depend on them to make their fortunes.
Some of this has been coming for a while. College athletes have long been on a legal plantation codified by the plantation owners, the NCAA, which gets to make the rules about whether college athletes (employees/slaves) should get paid. The NFL Combine along with the NFL’s very intrusive interview process is starting to look more and more like a slave auction.
When LeBron James left Cleveland and chose to decide his own fate rather than have the owners deciding it for him, Dan Gilbert treated him like he was an ungrateful runaway slave. And some of us were foolish enough to side with the owners against the players, who were simply trying to decide their own fate.
However, Sterling’s comments go a little further. By saying that he feeds, clothes and houses his players, he was saying that “he makes the game.” He is wrong and has turned the narrative on its head. In actuality it is the players who feed, clothe and house him and allow him to have expensive girlfriends.
The same is true on our jobs. The bosses try to convince us that they are so-called “job creators,” when the truth is they can’t produce a thing without the workers. Somebody has to flip the burger, work the assembly line, or turn on the switch.
But people like Sterling say these kinds of things to make us think we ought to be grateful just feel “lucky to have a job,” and thus we should put up with their disrespectful, racist crap.
Thankfully, the LA Clipper players sent a message that this is not okay. And in doing so they showed solidarity with their fellow Black brothers and sisters that we haven’t seen in a while but has been long overdue, because their small protest opposed not just what he implied about them but also his view of folks that look like them. And kudos to their White teammates that stood with them.
But the players protest didn’t go far enough, especially if you want to send the message that racism will not be tolerated. They should have forced the league’s hand and said that they simply could not play under the circumstances. And they would have had a legitimate complaint. Who could really concentrate on their job after hearing that their boss sees them the same a way an owner sees a prized racehorse?
That has got to be an excuse to miss work — extreme trauma. The NBA would have been forced to go on record condemning the remarks and would have had to sanction Sterling. Because as we all know, when you mess with these folks’ money you get their attention, and they will do nearly anything to keep the money flowing.
Sterling’s remarks paint him as a White supremacist, not just a racist. In his conversation with his girlfriend he said that Blacks are seen as inferior and that’s the way it is and that’s as it ought to be. But why is Sterling a White supremacist, especially since as a Jew he would have qualified for the ovens in Nazi Germany? It shows again how crazy racism is. White supremacists don’t even count him or his Israeli brothers as part of the brotherhood.
He does have something in common with the racist state of Israel, which he says — and it is true — discriminates against Black Israelis. In fact, it discriminates against Africans, Arabs and the Palestinians and has the Palestinians in an apartheid-like grip while, similar to the U.S., continuing to claim it is a democratic nation. Why would a nation made of the descendants of victims of the Holocaust, driven by race hatred, turn around and practice racism?
The answer is simple. The state of Israel is a capitalist country, and you can’t have capitalism — you can’t make maximum profit — without dividing the workers. And the best way to do that is to divide them along racial lines.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader response to firstname.lastname@example.org.