Genma Speaks

Entrepreneur/ Writer/ Radio-Host

Monday, May 19, 2014

5 Lessons Learned From Donald Sterling's Horrible Interview

By now, Donald Sterling’s picture can be found as two references in the dictionary; racist and fool. Last week, Sterling’s mea culpa failed its mission. His interview on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 left no doubt he was indeed as racists as the lawsuits said he was from years ago. He confirmed more than the public ever imagined. He solidified his entry into the Fools' Hall of Fame.

Sterling has made millions. If he sell the Clippers, he will make nearly a billion. If he does not sell the Clippers, he will still make nearly a billion. But his despicable words in the taped conversation with V. Stiviano actually paled in comparison to what was said on camera. Surely, he was prepped in some way as to what would be asked of him. But instead of rehashing his failed industry standard “I am sorry you found out I was racist misspeak”, let us looked at five lessons we can learned from the Donald Sterling’s debacle:

5.  Character Should Count

Donald Sterling was taped by his girlfriend. Sterling is married. Sterling had no shame showing the world he had a girlfriend. He didnot sneak around; he openly dated her. I know in the age of I am engaged but I am not yet divorced world, there are many who believe in marriage. If Sterling walks around with his girlfriend on his arms at games while still married to his wife who he also takes to the Clipper games, one can only imagine how well he would honor a contractual agreement with a business client. Or the NBA. Or the community. Even if one can overlook his personal life, the list of lawsuits that Sterling has won and lost over the years reveals he does not care about how business is conducted, just so long as he is making money.  

4. Ignorance is Bliss and Jealously is Obvious

Donald Sterling’s spouted pure ignorance about Magic Johnson’s HIV status. Sterling’s judgment of Magic being with ‘women in every city with AIDS” is said as if his affair with V. Stiviano was blessed by the Pope. Sterling’s disapproval of Magic’s conduct has got to be one of the best examples of pot meet kettle to date. But not only was Sterling ignorant about Magic but asking Anderson Cooper about dating girls sealed the deal that he must live in a gigantic bubble. Cooper is gay…and proud.  If you recall, Sterling requested Anderson Cooper to interview him.  Besides Donald Sterling being ignorant of other people lives and lifestyles, his jealously of Magic Johnson was front and center. The question, “Who is Magic Johnson?” was nothing but a veiled, I do not know why everyone loves Magic so much and not me. It is a classic case of a student of the game is now a teacher and can actually can enter the teachers’ lounge without permission. When one look at the culture of LA, hanging out with Magic Johnson sounds far more exciting than hanging out with old crusty Sterling.  But let us dig even deeper. Sterling’s teeth were kicked out when he needed to play “I am a good white man” race card and trout out a “my best friend is Black” to stand next to him during interviews and Magic refused to be that best Black friend. That knife seem to cut Sterling more than the betrayal of his girlfriend. Who says no to Donald Sterling? Sterling retaliated by reminding the public about Magic’s HIV. Good for magic being willing to set the record straight.  

3. You Are Known By the Company You Keep

In the number of interviews that followed Donald Sterling's disastrous foot in mouth sit down, the one that received much scrutiny was the escort service owner turned rapper named Maseratiet on CNN. Maseratiet shared with millions that he and Donald Sterling had been friends for years. And it was Maseratiet who actually introduced Sterling to V. Stiviano. Whenever a pimp, I mean an escort service owner introduces a man to a woman; there is rarely anything wholesome about that relationship. Pay to play get much emphasis here. The fact that Maseratiet was someone that Sterling considered a good friend who he called to share his version of truth is more than troubling. What type of person has an escort service provider as a confidante? Where was his lawyer or PR people? Surely, he had someone on his payroll to talk this through instead of a pimp. According to Maseratiet, he was the seller of the tapes not his friend, V. Stiviano. Now, a blind man can see Maseratiet and V. Stiviano conspiring to set up Sterling and they are on their way to making millions. There are hours of tapes and they have only sold the first few hours. Someone who sells women for money will sell his friend's taped secrets for money. Stay tune, more to come.

2. White Privilege is Golden 

In his CNN interview, Donald Sterling showed us that white privilege lives and breathes. And it is lined with gold. Sterling is one of the wealthiest men in the country and he says on national TV what he really thinks without any true consequences. Donald Sterling did not have to mount a legislative agenda to take away voting rights, he did not have to back a campaign to get his will done, nor did he have to form a PAC that is meant to raise billions to elect puppets who will make less $200,000 a year to send to Washington to look after his interests. No, Donald Sterling only has to own an NBA Team with mostly Black players, sell them homes from his real estate company, let them play  a few rounds of golf with him, and have them deposit their money (that he negotiated for them) in the bank where he sits on the board. With white privilege, he can proudly tell you “I is what I is” and fuel the passion of those who are longing to bring back the Old South in every way. Donald Sterling makes the Koch Brothers seem like toddlers crying in their crib.

1    1. The Truth Can Set You Free

      Donald Sterling’s words about Magic Johnson seem to catch all the heat, but very few are addressing his statements about the Black Community. Donald Sterling does not believe the Black Community takes care of its own. He did not pull that out of the air. He has been around more Black people than most and is sharing his observations whether Black folks want to accept it or not. The fact that someone as lewd and racist as Donald Sterling has been given an NAACP Image Award is not lost on anyone. Especially, those who rather send a little cash than make significant changes in how business is done in the community of color. Sterling knew if he bought enough tables at events and gave away enough ‘free’ tickets, those actions would buy him clout in a community that has become more event centric than solution oriented. More galas, balls, and luncheons are held by civic groups, fraternities and sororities, and social organizations in the Black community than any other community. Yet, the Black community continues to have higher disparities in healthcare, consume more than is produced economically, and is lagging behind in education than any other group.  Sterling was not held accountable by the NBA but nor was he held accountable by the Black community.

Let the lessons from Donald Sterling’s confessions of a wealthy racist be a driver of what needs to change as a whole. One person can be toxic to an entire community and our country, but one person can also be a change agent in their community. If one can be a change agent, imagine what can be done if several groups came together to do and be. Sterling should be a reason for the Black Community to examine itself more closely and be willing to address and change what can be done from within. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

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