Sunday, April 27, 2014

Donald Sterling: Surely we're not shocked?

Clippers players cover the team emblem
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Donald Sterling is capitalism and landlordism personified.  For readers that don’t follow basketball, Sterling is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.  He’s been in hot water in the past for his racism and was sued by the US Department of Justice in 2006 for his racism as a landlord. He is alleged to have said that he didn’t rent to Latinos because they "smoke, drink and just hang around the building," and that "Black tenants smell and attract vermin.".  According to reports in the media, Sterling paid a $2.3 million fine for that transgression.  But that’s no problem for a swine like Sterling who is worth about $2 billion according to Forbes.  His wealth has been made in real estate, a land pimp in other words.

Apart from the Dept. of Justice fine in 2012, a jury ordered Sterling to pay $17.3 million to actor, Robyn Cohen, a tenant of his, who lost most of her belongings in a fire her apartment that Sterling owned.

Sterling is back in the news as he has a rather attractive and younger girlfriend who apparently posted a pic of her and Magic Johnson on Instagram.  She has posted pics of other friends who happen to be people of color as well. She is Mexican and black.

This bothered Sterling who has, according to reports in the media,  been caught on tape trashing black folks after his girlfriend said she was simply taking pictures with herself and people she admires.  "And I'm just saying that it's too bad you can't admire him privately.” Sterling rants,  “And during your ENTIRE FUCKING LIFE, your whole life, admire him -- bring him here, feed him, fuck him, I don't care. You can do anything. But don't put him on an Instagram for the world to see so they have to call me. And don't bring him to my games. OK?"

There 's nothing that frightens a man like Sterling more than the black male.

Here’s some more:

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?" (3:30)

"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 on that ... and not to bring them to my games." (5:15)

"I’m just saying, in your lousy f******* Instagrams, you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people."

We might be surprised that someone would say such things about people upon whose backs his wealth is built.  Forbes describes his wealth as “self made” but there’s no such thing. If you could get rich working my mum would have been a billionaire. He is also a woman hater. Look how he talks to a partner.  All racists are woman haters.

Despite all his wealth Sterling is an insecure little man, most racists like him are. But we should not be surprised at all. The very people that are directing the savage assault on our social services, jobs, education and denying our youth a future are the Sterling’s of this world---so called “fellow Americans”. The entire global membership of the nebulous al Qaeda and every other “terrorist”,” militant”, “insurgent”, as described by the Pentagon’s mass media, couldn’t inflict the damage on us that our “fellow Americans” do. Sterling is a terrorist, a very efficient one.  Big capital cares about one thing and one thing only---profits. Sterling doesn’t own the LA Clippers because he loves basketball and wants to bring sport to the masses for our pleasure. Landlords don’t own apartment buildings to provide shelter for humans. Warren Buffet doesn’t own Burlington Northern because he cares about transportation.

Capitalists like Sterling (I’m not talking about a community business here) are aware they are a minority in society. They are aware that the rest of us, the people whose labor is the source of their wealth, the have not’s if you like, outnumber them and instinctively try to get more of the wealth we create on our side of the dividing line.  They use their media and other measures to confuse us on the issue and divert attention elsewhere against foreigners and immigrants for instance. They must divide us.

But the most successful approach in the US has been racism and in particular the war waged against black people and other people of color.  The civil rights movement put an end to some of the most blatant examples of their racism but in order to defend their wealth and position in society they have to divide us somehow and the most effective method is racism.  They are more subtle about it some of them. They have to be careful and I’m sure sterling thought his comments would never end up where they have.  But once in a while their real views slip out. They are all the same on this. In the event of a united multi-racial movement that threatens their wealth they will take the racism card from the middle of the pack to the top of the deck if necessary.

I was out of town for a day or two and just got back. The clippers played Golden Sate in a playoff game but they lost. The Clippers players protested Sterling’s remarks by putting their hands over the team emblem (see pic).  This is a good step. And I sympathize with the players wanting to play regardless, they are playing for themselves for their livelihoods and for what they have worked for all their lives, some 80% of NBA players are black.  But as in football, it is all players that must step forward especially white players and especially white fans.
We need more of this

It s the same when racism is exhibited in football (soccer) games in Europe.  When this occurs in a game, when a player or a fan(s) resort to it, the entire team must come together and give one warning that they will refuse to play if it continues. They must stand with their teammate.

Racism, sexism, religious sectarianism, we are not born with this.  It is a divide and rule tactic used by the ruling class to divide us, to weaken us in the struggle against their control, of society and appropriation of the wealth we create. The capitalist class will never eradicate it, it is in their toolbox.  Racism undermines worker power and only a united workers’ movement can begin to address it properly.  The tiny black bourgeois and other black millionaires will obviously be hurt and angry at Sterling’s comments and the pressure from the black working class especially will force them to condemn this publicly even if they don’t want to. Let’s remember, Michael Jordan earns more from advertising Nike footwear than all the Nike workers in Malaysia combined. The black capitalists that have prospered from the doors opened by the black youth and fighters that faced the sheriffs and the dogs during the Civil Rights movement will not risk losing their gains.

ESPN sports columnist Scoop Jackson commentedThe ‘issue’ of race and racism in sports is ever-present. And as much as this particular situation is about Donald Sterling, this really, comprehensively, is about all of us and what we continue to accept and allow.

But it’s more than that. Racism is a social issue, it is built in to the system of production we call capitalism; it is integral to it for the reasons I outline here.  Only the transformation of society will open the door to driving it from our consciousness, a democratic socialist alternative is the only answer. This might mean you’d miss game five but that’s life.

Malcolm X understood it very well when he said, “You can’t have capitalism without racism.”   He was right about that.  We should not be shocked by Sterling’s remarks, it’s just par for the course, he got caught that’s all.

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