I woke up this morning, and sadness was the first story I heard on the news. Donald Sterling, the owner of the L.A. Clippers, made some outrageous statements to his “girlfriend” concerning Black People in her sphere of influence. His recordings included statements like:
It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?…How about your life everyday you can do whatever you want. You can sleep with [Black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it… and not to bring them to my games.
I can’t believe we live in 2014 and a prominent NBA owner can even think these things, let alone say them out loud to another person.
The outrage included a part of the conversation he shared with his “girlfriend” about a certain Instagram picture she posted on her profile including her with arms around the legendary Magic Johnson.
People feel certain things Hispanics feel certain things towards Blacks. Blacks feel certain things toward other groups. It’s been that way historically and it will always be… Don’t put him [Magic] on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games.
The media will have a field day with this story, especially in light of the Supreme Court case upholding a Michigan voter approved measure to allow Affirmative Action to fade into history. Throw in the recent bumbling Nevada Rancher, Cliven Bundy, who some paraded on the news as the new stantion of individual rights in America, and after his most recent racial rant, America is heading toward a tender box. It’s crazy how race relations are heating up in America, and Mr. Sterling’s comments, Mr. Bundy’s comments, and the Supreme Court Ruling serve as a mirror to our continued problem of the US vs. THEM narrative we live in today.
Many of my friends say, “I don’t get it. Racism continues because of the segregation imposed by the government in the public square. They are the one’s who are creating this mess. We should see people as people, not in lieu of their color. Why don’t we just have a system where we can see people as people?” (Of course He’s white.)
There are several problems with trying to see racism eradication in America from a viewpoint of privilege. Even I didn’t understand the division between races until our family adopted multi racial kids into our family. I can attest, Racism is ALIVE AND WELL in America today; and we need to take a long look at our own individual behaviors to eradicate this awful practice in our culture.
1. The US. vs. THEM story
This division of humanity is widely seen around the world. Go to China, and you see a massive group of homogenous people living together. The ‘US’ group serves as a way of ancient protectionism, economic trade, and social security often present reasons why a tribe often finds similarities equate to safety. In France, you can find people who don’t like Americans. In England, you can find people who don’t like Irish. In Africa, tribalism is a way of doing life, arguably to advance a particular culture of power, prestige, and position. But that’s them, NOT ‘US.’
Our founding documents include statements like “All men are created equal,” and by ALL I interpret that as ALL. America is supposed to be a different place, a place of hope and prosperity for ALL who come to the table of Freedom. So how in the world can this type of differentiation exist in a country over 250 years old. Haven’t we come past this.
Unless there’s a deeper spirit at play.
The selfish pride existing inside all of us may not be simply economic or social; MAYBE, the heart of mankind is the same no matter what country or time period we live in. Man is by his very nature a self preservationists, and if we want to live in a culture of acceptance, we need to fight that urge EVERY DAY to be people of inclusion, rather than exclusion.
2. Life’s is a REAL player
Look, I know it’s been almost 150 years since Slavery was actually legal in America. Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and many American Leaders introduced the 14th amendment in 1868 which was supposed to begin the slow process of healing us and bringing us back to “All Men are Created Equal.” But let’s be honest, we’re still trying to figure out how to live together in a place where we see All Men.
Justice Judge Sonia Sotomayor, wrote a 58 page decent to the most recent Supreme Court ruling on the Affirmative Action case in Michigan. Her comments were especially poignant when she wrote, ““The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination…”
She went on to write about how life’s starting line is as important as its present achievement. If you start life behind the 8 ball of economy, social justice, education, or even a home of racial hatred, it’s really hard to be someone else and see other’s as all Created Equal.
3. God is not a respecter of persons
And if you employ a theological view of racism, you must include Acts 10:34-35. “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.”
Unfortunately, many Christians are still holding on to this US vs. THEM narrative driving racism deeper into the conscience of America. Sure, no one would ever say it out loud, but deep within all of us is a place where we hold certain attributes toward other groups of people, either positive or negative. Just think about the person who wears a different set of clothes that you do, worships a different way than you do, goes to a different church than you go to, or participates in a different ministry than you do.
And that’s just within the tribe supposedly called US.
What if someone lives in a difference economic place than you do.
Or comes from a different area of the country than you do.
What about someone who comes from a different country than you do.
Or what about someone who behaves in a way that you don’t find acceptable?
The beauty of Justice Sotomayor is that she calls on all of us to do a critical inventory about race in our own life. We need to ask deep questions about why we think the way we do about certain people, and then remember…
THIS IS AMERICA, where we believe at the core of our law founding documents, ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL, no matter the color of skin.
We can do better.
Take an inventory today of your own life and begin eradicating this hatred for THE OTHER in your community, all based on race.