Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NAACP complicit in Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racism

NAACP complicit in Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racism

by Rashard Zanders, Twin Cites, MN, April 29, 2014

Note: As I am writing this reports have emerged online that new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has handed down a $2.5 million fine and more importantly, a lifetime ban from the NBA. Kudos Commissioner Silver for acting swiftly and decisively in your first league crisis.

Like most fans of the NBA I too was stunned by the visceral racist rant, first revealed by, made by Donald Sterling, the billionaire owner of the LA Clippers basketball team. Perhaps some form of social amnesia made us forget that this person has a long and prolific history of discrimination and racist behaviors.

However, I was blown away to learn, that not only did the recidivist bigot earn a LifeTime Achievement Award from the LA NAACP back in 2009, he was on the verge, through various charitable donations to the “civil rights” organization's youth programs, of receiving another one at an upcoming banquet.. TWO LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS despite a long track record of denying person's of color housing apartments he owns. As the LA Times reported:

Sterling and his wife, Rochelle, agreed to pay a record settlement of $2.7 million in 2009 regarding allegations that they discriminated against African Americans, Latinos and families with children at scores of apartment buildings they own around Los Angeles.

The settlement was the largest ever obtained by the Justice Department in a housing discrimination case involving apartment rentals, officials said. Under the agreement, the Sterlings' insurers would pay $2.625 million to a fund for people who were allegedly harmed by their discriminatory practices, officials said. Sterling's attorney at the time said his client denied any wrongdoing and didn't discriminate.”
The same article makes mention of NBA Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor's suit discrimination suit against Sterling a few years ago:
A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury rejected NBA great Elgin Baylor's termination lawsuit against the Clippers.
Baylor claimed he was harassed and subjected to age discrimination leading to his 2008 departure after 22 years as a Clippers executive. When Baylor filed the suit in February 2009, he alleged that a racist culture existed at the Clippers. Baylor called it a "plantation mentality" in a deposition and said that Sterling rejected a coaching candidate, Jim Brewer, because he was [B]lack.”
On April 28th I sent the following email to the NAACP's LA chapter:

This is addressed to anyone willing to answer a question for a freelance writer (me) and my blog My question is concerning the LA NAACP's relationship with Mr. Donald Sterling -- he of recent racist comments and the LA Clippers owner --and how, or why, was he going to receive a lifetime achievement award despite a long and well-documented history as a racist? As one of the watchdogs and defenders of civil rights, I assume there is at least some rigor and due diligence in selecting NAACP award members. Can anyone speak on this? An email will suffice.

That is all I want to ask. I hope an answer is forthcoming

Yours in the struggle,”

I waited patiently for a response to come to my inbox. None came. Maybe they were busy preparing their tepid excuses for helping to obscure Sterling's bigotry while greedily gobbling up his donations. How could such a perverse bigot as Sterling, with his record, qualify for not one but TWO Lifetime Achievement Awards? As Luwie wrote on the

If you are not working towards the advancement and freedom of [B]lack people, why would you be receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award? Donald definitely wasn’t with us shooting in the freedom gym. If you’re going to give a white man an NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, he better be out on these front lines preaching equality right next to Al and Jesse. He better be taking down the bricks of the house of white supremacy one by one with his bare hands. He better be doing real concrete things that are dismantling the system of racism that his skinfolk work tirelessly to keep in place.”

Earlier that morning while watching CNN I listened as the president of the LA NAACP chapter, Leon Jenkins thronged by other members of his organization address the Donald Sterling controversy and the NAACP's relationship with him. What he blathered encapsulates one of the unfortunate realities of groups like the NAACP – they are beholden to money over principles of justice. Remember, this is the same organization that shrank away from Dr. ML King Jr after his historic Riverside Church address which addressed the criminality of poverty and the Vietnam War, the latter being a topic many civil rights leaders promised the government they wouldn't touch. Their acquiescence to the deep pockets of a racist billionaire points to a crisis of leadership within what was alleged to be the most venerable civil rights organization in the United States. Actually my vote would go to the Southern Poverty Law Center if I had a say.

What the people of LA and the nation needed from that chapter of the NAACP was dynamic leadership. It's one thing to say you won't bestow an award, or will return donated money; but without disclosing how much money they've actually received from him they continue to trade in civil rights advocacy and the cause of social justice to the highest bidder. Kinda like some auctions from the 19th century.

What the people got was a civil rights organization that is a shell of it's former self.

If the NAACP didn’t know of Donald Sterling’s past, then they're proving that they're incredibly out of the loop. In fact, it’ll mean that they’re so out of the loop that they must have ended up in a square by way of Apple Maps. And if they did know about his discriminatory deeds and they chose to honor him anyway just because he dropped some coins in a bucket, then they put a price on our people’s worth.”
Perhaps now that the Commissioner of the NBA has dealt swiftly and decisively against Sterling by instituting a lifetime ban against him, the members who make up the rank and file of LA's NAACP chapter will be motivated to critically reexamine the quality of leadership they elected, and move just as swiftly to change it.

Rashard Zanders is a freelance writer from Chicago currently living in the TCs, MN. He can be reached at 872-228-4179 or via email at

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