We need to grow up and stop being so insulted by the words of people we don’t know
Thanks to Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling, the 24 hour news cycle can stop reporting about the missing Malaysian airliner and the Ukraine. We have an old, but new issue to discuss again, that being racism and bigotry in the United States… Who knew? Donald Sterling, the 81 year-old billionaire who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, was finally outed as the racist bigot he’s always been. Stop the presses!
These sensationalist matters are nothing new, but do get viewers in an uproar along with the ratings. Most of these incidents stem from people, older white people, who come from a generation that isn’t used to being the minority. The minority being racists in general. People such as Cliven Bundy, Mel Gibson, Paula Deen and Sterling will always bring racism back to the forefront with their own words.
In this instance, even President Obama, who is on official duty in Malaysia, had to weigh in and comment on this one bigoted billionaire to appease the rest of us. Luckily for Mr. Sterling, the first Amendment allows him to say what he wants, even in private (albeit recorded), but it does not protect him from the consequences. He’s lucky not to live in a country where he could be taken out and shot.
Before I wrote this article, I spoke to as many people of all backgrounds and ages informally about what they think of racism and bigotry in the United States. All I had to do was walk outside my front door and I was absolutely shocked at what people said when they are not in front of a camera.
One person in particular stood out to me; a black gay man who is HIV positive and 53 years old. He has been at the receiving end of insults his entire life and his thoughts really opened my mind since I am a Caucasian female. He is not famous, he’s not an athlete with a multi-million dollar contract, nor does he employ servants, or have quasi-lovers that he can order around. I have to say I agreed with him and did not even realize it until he articulated his thoughts to me while I took notes. The following are the points he made that I would like to share in my own words:
1. First of all, get some thicker skin. Everyone has something to deal with and everyone receives their share of insults from family, friends, employers and so on. When the statements of Donald Sterling were made public last weekend, there were comments that Sterling was a “slave-master” who didn’t want his girlfriend, mistress, gold digger or whatever being photographed with black people on Instagram or bringing black people to Los Angeles Clippers games. So what? Donald Sterling did not make the Clippers who they are, the players and the fans did. If Sterling didn’t own the Clippers, someone else would.
2. Why did the Clippers considered boycotting the playoffs or decide to wear their jerseys inside out? What message were they sending to who? The best thing that team could have done was just ignore it, get out on the court and play to win. Many of these same players also have mistresses, use the same language that Sterling did, employee servants and have their own biases about other races including their own. It was embarrassing that the players even showed that they were affected by a well known bigot who happens to own the franchise all of a sudden. Were those uniforms and fancy shoes made in China by slave labor? Does that make the players sellouts as well?
3. The next point is that sponsors pulled out of supporting the Los Angeles Clippers. Why? What was the message there? The end result is utterly confusing since the fans are what make everyone money in the first place. The only thing those sponsors did was put pressure on Mr. Silver to ban Sterling from the NBA. However, Mr. Silver ultimately works for Donald Sterling who is quite litigious. This isn’t the end of this debacle.
Donald Sterling has already said he would not sell the team. If three-fourths of other NBA owners come together (as a team?) and vote for him to sell, then the NBA rules say he has to sell. But how many of those other white owners have their own skeletons in the closet? How many others are “slave-masters”?
4. The same goes with the Washington Redskins. If somebody famous says something insulting, ignore it and get on with your own business. The Washington Redskins name is not meant to be a personal insult and may even keep the lineage of Native Americans in the conscious of all of us. That team name is not meant to be hurtful or personal. Remember, these are multi-million dollar entities we are speaking of, who employ hundreds and entertain fans who are the same races they are talking about.
Remember Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson? That was just a few months ago and although ratings have dropped, initially, the ratings increased. The country went mad again for what? More Duck Dynasty junk that is made in China sold right before Christmas. All because we, yes we, were insulted by a man on a fake reality show about rednecks.
5. It is ridiculous that in 2014 we are hung up on words. Look at your birth certificate. Then look at your parents birth certificates and then your grandparents birth certificates. You may be shocked at the words used to describe you and your ancestors. Over time, the word used to describe your race has changed and evolved. It is sad that the birth certificate has to say what “color” or “race” a baby is in the first place. I think where they were born is good enough. What about mixed race babies?
As a woman, regardless of race, I could stay holed up in my home all day because I am insulted by the things that are being said about women by everyone. Politicians first come to mind, but then there are advertisers, pornographers, sex traffickers, inappropriate comments just made in day to day functions. God forbid I go out to a pub to watch a game at night and I’m verbally assaulted after being there 10 minutes.
I had sexually inappropriate comments made to me by every employer I’ve worked for. Did I ever report it or sue? No. I know that the victim is the one who pays the ultimate price and to my surprise, was even promoted because other people heard the comments and my silence was more intimidating than a formal complaint. Women insult other women, blame victims, and have obnoxious displays of what I like to call “Jealous Bitch Syndrome” or JBS.
Heck, I might as well get off of Facebook and Twitter since there are so many photographs of women, famous or not, in provocative positions. Come to think of it, I’m insulted every day and by no means do I have a fan base or am I in a multi-million dollar contract. I’m just an ordinary citizen who has had, for survival reasons, to deal with the hurt and pain that I may have experienced at the words or deeds of others.
The point is grow up. Stop being so insulted by the words of people you don’t know. I have to say that I agree with Kareem Abdul Jabar’s article in Time Magazine and Mark Cuban’s comments about this being “a very slippery slope”. The encouraging thought I have is that my own sons, who are in their 20’s, do not give a second thought about these high falutin remarks. Eventually, the generation that is so afraid of people who are different, whether race, sexual orientation, gender, or religion, will no longer matter. It’s just a waiting game.