Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Donald Sterling: Clippers and NBA players should have shut down the playoffs

Sterling has not an ounce of decency in him
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Jubrieel Ahkile: from Oakland commented on the previous post about the Donald Sterling affair. He wrote:

“As a black working class man I see this time and time again . White rich folks and their multiracial agents of white supremacy step on the black working class like they ain't shit. It's bad just being a worker let alone a black one. They tell me don't go down south their the racist ones. I work in San Francisco, CA, and I'll tell you go to some areas as a black person and they will look at you with the crazies look like you don't belong. Sometimes I think I'm in a time machine and I'm back in the Jim Crow days! This owner just reopened the race question which this country is trying to avoid. They know if they talk about it open up questions of not just race but, class and gender and all other things that's wrong with the system. I never will trust the 1 percent they could try to please people by removing this fool from owner ship all they want. I think if the players had any self-respect they wouldn't coach or play in this years play offs.”

Jubrieel’s comments made me think a bit more about the role of the players.  Some 80% of the players are black, and we cannot assume white players or any of the remaining 20% are all a bunch of racists but sympathetic to their teammates feelings and put off by Sterling’s remarks.

But Jubrieel is right that turning their jerseys inside out was a pretty lame action. The comments were so nasty there was a golden opportunity here for the players in the NBA to shut the damn playoffs down. This would have had a very powerful effect and would have inspired millions of youth and workers. It would have also had a major financial effect on the other owners and all those wasters who control the sports industry from Murdoch’s Fox to ESPN that is owned by Disney and the Hearst Corporation, a den of thieves. 

The action by the Clippers players was also mild compared to that great moment in Mexico City in 1968 when Tommie Smith and John Carlos had decided to make a statement at the medal ceremony.  They raised their fists in the air, wore no shoes to protest poverty and beads to protest lynchings.   Imagine what a player stoppage could have done protesting mass incarceration, poverty, police violence, unemployment and all the other problems in society today.  On the podium with Smith and Carlos that day was Peter Norman, the Australian who won the silver.  I always assumed he was not involved in it and discovered only recently he was and for that he career was destroyed. (The 68 Olympics: remembering Peter Norman.

From another angle there have been sever assaults on the integrity of Sterling’s girlfriend. The pimp Donald Trump referred to her as the “girlfriend from hell.” Some have lumped them both together, they’re both money-grubbers devoid of moral fibre etc.

The problem is that Sterling has much more social power than this woman. If she set him up I don’t give a damn.  Knowing how he talks to her and how people like that view workers in general and the women or partners in their personal lives I can only imagine what she has had to listen to for months and months; I’m sure she got fed up with it.

Another critic raised freedom of speech. I agree with freedom of speech but some speech has consequences.  I do not believe the state should determine what can be said or not but a united workers movement can. Racist/misogynist speech hurts workers, makes building a united workers direct action movement all the harder.  Our movement can ensure that Nazis and racists are afraid to come out.  NAZI’s and racist speech has a purpose and that is to build a movement that will deny freedom of speech to the population as a whole.  It is to build a movement that is opposed to workers organizations, women’s rights and fights for the supremacy of one race or group over another.  This speech we can and must shut down.  We don’t support the capitalist state doing it, a united workers’ movement doing it is another matter.

In this sense the players of the NBA missed a golden opportunity to improve their working conditions, the nature of the sport and their relations with the fans and all workers. There is a lot of support out there for the players and hatred for Sterling, a slumlord.   

Sterling is in his seventies so the “lifetime” ban on owning a team he just received won’t hurt him too much nor will the $2 million fine.

But lets not make the case that Sterling and the woman who had to listen to his racist and misogynistic ranting for who knows how long are equals.  On the tape in the previous blog she is relatively decent to him, tries to help him you can see that in the way she counters his racism.

I’m glad he was outed. A brief moment of pleasure.

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