CORBIN — John Ross is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For pro basketball fans, it has been a week for unexpected controversy.
Racist comments allegedly made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling landed the man in serious hot water — costing him $2.5 million and likely, the ownership of the team.
And while I agree those comments should never have been made, I wonder the motivation behind actually recording this conversation.
I’ve recorded conversations in my line of work — not often, because to me relying on a tape recorder is silly when I have a hand that works, a pen or pencil that writes, and paper to take notes on.
But I never have thought to record a conversation without the other person’s knowledge, particularly a private conversation.
Most everybody has, shall we say, negative thoughts that swirl in our heads. Sometimes we share these “unpopular” thoughts with our closest friends.
How many of us were in high school and sat around and talked about your fellow students? How many of those conversations would you have liked to have shared? Did someone ever betray a confidence you shared?
The married Sterling’s purported girlfriend, Vivian Stiviano, denies that she was the one who leaked the recorded conversation — so who did? And why? And, further, why was she recording the conversation at all?
Of course, the black population of this country is up in arms over his comments — and they should be upset.
They were racist. They were uncalled for. And they were offensive.
I am upset about Sterling’s comments as well, but I am also upset about the apparent imbalance of intolerance that exists.
The well-known Rev. Al Sharpton released a statement concerning the controversy: “The lifetime banning of Donald Sterling is a bold and appropriate action in this matter. This is a huge victory for those of us that stood against this ugly display of racism. We must continue to make unequivocal stands against bigotry and racism. I look forward to speaking to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and beginning the dialogue with other civil rights leaders right away to discuss putting in measures to make sure this never happens again.”
But yet, this same man said this during a 1994 speech given at Kean College in New Jersey: “White folks was in the caves while we [blacks] was building empires … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.”
Does that sound like he has a problem with racism?
Then, like a shadow, the Rev. Jesse Jackson made his opinion known to USA Today, saying that Sterling treated the team with a “slave master mentality,” and that it’s “no longer 12 years a slave — it’s 12 years a Clipper.” He called for a boycott of the Clippers games by “players, their families, black fans and by white people who view blacks and whites as equals.”
But yet, this same “reverend” was overheard on a Fox News microphone that “Barack…he’s talking down to black people…telling n*****rs how to behave.”
And aren’t there any black people who see white and black folks as equals? Aren’t there any white fans?
Jackson also used his slave master mentality moniker in another context — this time when LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers. The coach, Dan Gilbert, was upset that James left the team and said a lot of things that left him with a $100,000 fine. Jackson’s reaction: “His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality..(he) sees LeBron as a runaway slave.”
Really? You know that?
It happens with crimes as well — who could forget George Zimmerman in Florida? All kinds of leaders were calling for justice and hate crime prosecution and the like — but no one choked or uttered one single word about a hate crime when a white couple in Knoxville, Tenn. were brutally raped, tortured and murdered by four black people because they were white.
I’ve personally been a victim of racism. When I lived in eastern North Carolina, I searched and searched for an apartment. Flood waters from Hurricane Floyd damaged many of the structures there, so rental properties were few and far between.
I ended up in a nice little two bedroom place — and as it turned out, I was the only white person who lived there.
And I really didn’t realize I was a target until I came home from work at lunch on Martin Luther King Day. The parking lot to the apartment complex was packed with people, and they all seemed to be having a good time.
I walked to the mailbox, and noticed a 2- or 3-year-old girl running around. We all lived off of a very busy road — and suddenly this little girl started running at top speed for the road.
There was a puppy barking from a house across the road.
She was too far away for me to stop her physically, so I hollered at the people standing around that the baby was running into traffic.
“White boy, you better mind your own business.”
“Who are you talking to you stupid white cracker?”
“Get your honkey a** back inside and keep to yourself.”
Those were among the cleanest comments I was forced to listen to — just because I was trying to help. The near tragedy was the people were so busy yelling at me, they almost forgot the girl. Had she not tripped on gravel, I doubt she would have been stopped by her family.
So then I knew I was a problem — a problem with a lease.
I tolerated a great many racist comments from most of the people who lived there — even the children.
Once when I was in a particularly bad mood, I came home to vent a bit. I headed for the mailbox and start hearing “cracker gettin’ the mail, cracker gettin’ the mail — hurry up and get that mail, cracker.”
The source? An 8-year-old boy who was rooting through the dumpster where I dumped the cat litter box.
At the rate we’re going in this country, we’ll all be long dead before we can look at each other as Americans.
In our nationwide effort for forced political correctness, we’ve ended up isolating ourselves from everyone else.
If we continue on this path of hatred and intolerance, we’ll end up repeating the years 1861-1865 — and I’m afraid that’s more likely than simply looking at each other as what we are and should take pride in.