On Saturday, recordings of a man spewing racist vitriol to his girlfriend, 38-year-old Vanessa Stiviano, made headlines. That man is reportedly Donald Sterling, the 81-year-old owner of the LA Clippers.
And his statements, made after Stiviano posted a picture to her Instagram account alongside Magic Johnson, were just the latest in Sterling’s attacks on people of color in America.
In the recordings, a man identified as Sterling scolded Stiviano for associating with black people.
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” the man said in the recording. “Do you have to?”
“You can sleep with them, you can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that and not to bring them to my games.”
And in an extended version of the recordings, Sterling even justifies his twisted view, telling Stiviano in a show of transparent Master/Slave mentality that he is aware that black men work for him and he supports them financially.
V: I don’t understand, I don’t see your views. I wasn’t raised the way you were raised.
DS: Well then, if you don’t feel—don’t come to my games. Don’t bring black people, and don’t come.
V: Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?
DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?
The comments, no doubt deplorable, aren’t the least bit shocking.
Frustration aside, it’s important to note that this isn’t the first time Sterling has been in hot water over his racially-loaded viewpoints. And to be honest, the NBA and organizations who boast the Sterling name or have given him awards have known this for quite some time.
- In 1983, a prospective Clippers coaching candidate said that Sterling used the N-word in an interview at LAX. “Here’s this guy, and he has this blonde bimbo with him, they have a bottle of champagne, they’re tanked. And Don looks at me and he says, ‘I wanna know why you think you can coach these n*****s.’” Read more about the incident here.
- In 2006, the U.S. Department of Justice sued Sterling for housing discrimination after he allegedly refused to rent to African-Americans at his residential complexes. Top property supervisor, Sumner Davenport, testified that Sterling made racist comments about black people residing in a building he had just bought. “That’s because of all the blacks in this building, they smell, they’re not clean. … And it’s because of all of the Mexicans that just sit around and smoke and drink all day.” He also said this about a black tenant who complained about water damage in the property. “Kandynce Jones’ refrigerator dripped, her dishwasher was broken, and her apartment was always cold. Now it had flooded. Davenport reported what she saw to Sterling, and according to her testimony, he asked: ‘Is she one of those black people that stink?’ When Davenport told Sterling that Jones wanted to be reimbursed for the water damage and compensated for her ruined property, he replied: ‘I am not going to do that. Just evict the b****.’” Read more about the incident here.
- Three years later, Sterling settled the lawsuit for a reported $2.75 million. Read more about the incident here.
- And that same year (2009), Sterling engaged in a wrongful-termination lawsuit brought forth by former Clippers general manager and NBA legend Elgin Baylor after he claimed the owner had a “plantation mentality.” According to Baylor’s lawsuit, Sterling said this: “Personally, I would like to have a white Southern coach coaching poor black players. Do you think that’s a racist statement?'” Baylor’s lawsuit also states that three top Clippers players complained that Sterling’s female friends, upon entering the locker room, would look at the players and remark, “Look at those beautiful black bodies.” The lawsuit was rejected by a jury. Read more about the incident here.
But even with these lawsuits (and many other gross and inconsiderate incidents that reveal Sterling’s sexist viewpoints), many aren’t ready to throw the long-time owner away, especially when he’s been protected by the courts. The NBA has remained fairly quiet amid an investigation and many blame Stiviano for allegedly releasing the tapings. And in a bizarre press conference, the L.A. NAACP (who were slated to give Sterling the lifetime achievement award a second time) announced that they wouldn’t take his first award away, which was given just before his housing discrimination lawsuit was settled in 2009.
You’d think they would have done their research.
But finger-pointing aside, one thing is clear — Sterling has been this way for a while and people know it. These recordings will no doubt make Sterling face his love for racial epithets and discrimination, but hopefully, it’ll make organizations and companies tied to his money open their eyes as well.
SOURCE: ESPN, TIME, Business Insider, LA Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty