April 29, 2014

What Bundy and Sterling tell us

The paternalism of rich white men aka the 1%:

Donald Sterling’s disgusting 1 percent ramblings: Let’s pity the racist billionaire

Donald Sterling's racism is cut from the GOP playbook--a classic case of "makers vs. takers" delusion

By Paul Rosenberg
DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league? (emphasis added)

Excuse me. Donald Sterling gives the players on his team food? Clothes? Cars? Houses? They don’t work their asses off earning what they buy for themselves, building on a lifetime of hard work and practice, and years of unmitigated exploitation as unpaid athletes along the way?

Does anyone other than Sterling have the slightest difficulty in hearing how much he sounds like a classic 19th century slave owner, talking about everything he’s done for his ungrateful slaves?

Certainly his question, “Who makes the game?” recalls the slaveholders’ delusion that they alone created the enormous wealth they enjoyed. It was a believable fiction, I suppose, if first you absolutely convinced yourself that the slaves who did all the actual work were not people at all, but mere property, nothing more than livestock, really. One has to wonder: Is that what Sterling thinks of the men who play on his team today?
Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy’s ignorant paternalism: Angry old white men gone wild, again!

Donald Sterling’s racial views are worse than Cliven Bundy’s, yet some on the right defend the racist billionaire

By Joan Walsh
It’s just another episode of “Angry Old White Men Gone Wild,” but the two men’s sins aren’t the same. Racism wasn’t entirely shocking coming from the not-too-sharp Nevada cattleman who seems to have marinated in the paranoid anti-government thinking that’s taken hold in marginal white communities. Its crude expression was much more disturbing coming from the powerful, wealthy Sterling.

But there’s more than simple anti-black racism linking the views of Bundy and Sterling. They share an ignorant, self-serving paternalism.
And:Comparing the situation of Sterling’s players—talented, wealthy athletes with agents and contracts—to slavery is silly. Still, a twisted and racist paternalism links Cliven Bundy’s slavery rant with Sterling’s talk about his players. “I give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses” is only a few bad leaps of logic away from slavery being good for black people because it gave them “homes with their chickens and their gardens and their children around them, and their man having something to do.” In both cases, black people are simple, passive and not entirely capable of caring for themselves. They should be grateful for the good will of the men who exploit their labor and accept their position at the bottom of society, because they’re not meant for more than that.

Of course I’d say it’s the players who give Sterling food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Without their labor, their talent and their extraordinary dedication to do everything it takes to win, Donald Sterling wouldn’t have a basketball team. Now, he’d still have food and clothes and cars and houses, because he’s a predatory real estate mogul who paid $2.725 million to settle a Justice Department suit that accused him of driving African-Americans, Latinos and families with children out of his apartment complexes.

Systemic racism

White racism won’t just die off: No utopia awaits when retrograde attitudes like Donald Sterling and Cliven Bundy’s are gone

Sterling and Bundy belong to a different generation, but Paul Ryan and the Supreme Court are enshrining white power

By Brittney Cooper
The staggering political and historical amnesia that allowed six justices to co-sign such a policy caused Justice Sonia Sotomayor to both write and read a 58-page dissent before the court. Sotomayor rightfully suggested that those, like Chief Justice John Roberts, who believe racial discrimination will end by restricting the right of race to be a consideration hold a “sentiment out of touch with reality.” Such a view reminds me of my academic colleagues who put the term “race” in scare quotations, and tell themselves that because race is a social construction–a biological fiction–that they no longer have to think about the real material impact that centuries of race-based discourse have had on constructing a racist world.

“Race matters,” Sotomayor wrote. And “the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”

The dangerous, backward and wrongheaded thinking of Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling represent just two of the most obvious iterations of these kinds of “unfortunate effects.” And we are powerless to advocate for ourselves against systemic expressions of such thinking because the Supreme Court has chosen a “see no evil, hear no evil” approach to the problem.

Though the racial views of Bundy/Sterling on one hand and the Supreme Court on the other exist rhetorically at opposite ends of the spectrum, both point to an insidious and unchecked march of continued racism that disadvantages and harms black people, in particular. Bundy/Sterling vocally promote the kind of racial thinking that makes even the most conservative white person cringe, while Chief Justice John Roberts and five other justices promote the kind of colorblind view that seems to represent the highest expression of our national understandings of liberty and justice for all.

However, what Sterling’s and Bundy’s views demonstrate is the extent to which retrograde racial attitudes are alive and well among white men with money, power and control over the livelihoods of black people. And what the Supreme Court’s abdication of responsibility suggests is that the government has no responsibility to remedy the discrimination that clearly still exists in institutions that are run largely by white men who belong to the same generation and school of thought as Bundy and Sterling.
Donald Sterling was more than just a “painful episode”

The Clippers owner has been publicly shamed and banned from the NBA. But that won't fix the root of the problem

By Roxane Gay
For now, the NBA’s punishment is, like the security theater to which we are subjected at airports, an elaborate performance. “Look,” the NBA is saying, “look how quickly we have dispatched with this racist aberration in our midst.” Unfortunately, it is not a new revelation that Donald Sterling is racist (and sexist). He is not an aberration. He has been made to pay for his racism twice before—in 2003 and 2009—in housing discrimination lawsuits, which are far graver infractions than his racist comments and behavior over the years. The NBA simply remained silent in 2003 and 2009 because there wasn’t yet enough public outrage for them to have to perform some kind of response. It took a splashy gossip spill from TMZ (and what an unexpected meter of justice that site is) for Sterling to face any kind of comeuppance that is not really comeuppance.

There has been and there will continue to be vigorous discussions about race in America. I worry that little will come of these discussions because we aren’t addressing what must be done to change the current racial climate. Donald Sterling’s lack of interest in having black people at Clippers’ games is on par with rancher Cliven Bundy’s nostalgia for slavery as a means of giving black folk something to do. These men’s racial attitudes are troubling and indicative of the racist beliefs far too many people hold. More important, these men and their ilk are propped up by a system for which the consequences for extolling such beliefs are painfully inadequate. They are propped up by a system that enables voter suppression, segregation, the retrenchment of affirmative action supported by even the Supreme Court, a glass ceiling in far too many industries, and the list goes on.

What truly worries me, though, is that far too many people seem surprised when racists like Sterling or Bundy are revealed, as if these men are closer to the exception than the rule. What worries me is that I am not at all surprised when these men are revealed for who they truly are. What worries me is that “post-racial” America is not that different from the Americas that have preceded us, and it might not ever be.
Comment:  Bundy and Sterling have been rich and racist most of their lives. They've been acting on their racist beliefs all this time. Sterling even had a record of housing discrimination. Yet most of us are just learning about this racism, just reacting to it now.

Both cases are great examples of how systemic racism surrounds us. People like Bundy and Sterling are in charge of the large powerful entities--government, business, the military, churches, the media--that dominate our lives. And this power is mostly invisible to the naked eye.

What matters isn't whether our next-door neighbor is considerate or not. What matters is who's in charge of things such as defense, finance, taxation, health, welfare, education, and the environment. And the answer is generally rich white men who support the military-industrial complex run by other rich white men. They decide who gets most of society's benefits, and it's them, not us.

For more on systemic racism, see Whites Think They're Losing to Blacks and Educating DMarks About Systemic Racism.

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