Former Laker Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who served as a special assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2000, takes issue with our collective response to the alleged racist comments made by Clippers owner Donald Sterling over the weekend.
In an opinion piece for Time, Abdul-Jabbar writes that Sterling is “the latest in a long line of rich white celebrities to come out of the racist closet’’ and takes the public and the media to task for their emphatic response to some racial indignities and not others. He cites three lawsuits against Sterling over the years as stories we should have been more outraged at in the first place.
What bothers me about this whole Donald Sterling affair isn't just his racism. I'm bothered that everyone acts as if it's a huge surprise. Now there's all this dramatic and very public rending of clothing about whether they should keep their expensive Clippers season tickets. Really? All this other stuff I listed above has been going on for years and this ridiculous conversation with his girlfriend is what puts you over the edge? That's the smoking gun?
Abdul-Jabaar’s main takeway is that we shouldn’t let the sensational dictate our beliefs on what should be core human issues.
Let's use this tawdry incident to remind ourselves of the old saying: "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom." Instead of being content to punish Sterling and go back to sleep, we need to be inspired to vigilantly seek out, expose, and eliminate racism at its first signs.