The comments made by Clippers coach Donald Sterling are disgusting. Of course they are disgusting. But the self-righteous backlash is just as disgusting. In fact, our reaction to Sterling’s comments demonstrates a threat more dangerous than racism.
The Sterling fallout reminds me of when women find out one of their friends says something mean about them behind their back. Up in arms. Calling for boycott. Taking it personally. Hell hath no fury like a black person scorned.
The self-righteousness has become so out-of-hand that there have been threats on Sterling’s life and no one cares. Sterling’s privacy was breached and no one cares. Behind every self-righteous person or group is shame. It’s obvious to say this in reference to a patient in the clinic, but when dealing with millions of people on a national scale, it’s racist.
Blacks aren’t doing well—from single-parent homes to incarceration rates to violent crime rates, all you can do is think of them as black sheep but never say it. But we don’t even want to look at the problem, so it’s a good thing this rich white guy said something racist. Now we can all subconsciously blame the problems of the black community on Sterling and what he represents.
Blacks are becoming like that one guy you work with who still talks about how his ex-wife screwed him over. His complaint sounds legitimate except then you find out they’ve been divorced for 15 years. Perpetual grievance and narcissism are loser fuel. This guy is so radioactive, you don’t even make small talk with him in the break room anymore. What insignificant thing will you say that will set him off? Who knows, so it’s better to just not talk to him.
There’s nothing surprising in Sterling’s comments. Take a step back, and all he said, in essence, is he doesn’t like black people. We already knew some white people didn’t like black people. And some black people don’t like white people. If you cannot come to terms with the fact that some people aren’t going to like you because of your skin color, then you’re a child. Or a woman who just got her ego bruised. Same thing.
Sterling’s comments are the dark side of living in a multicultural society. I believe humans are capable of living in a multicultural society without having in-groups and out-groups. But philosophically, we are not there yet. We lack the consistent principles to see each person as an individual, and tribalism fills that vacuum.
Oh yes, Donald Sterling is a silly, racist man. But that’s his issue he needs to square with. The much more pernicious problem here is society treats Sterling like he is the problem. He is not the problem. The shame and protecting of the black community is the problem.
If Sterling was black and he was caught saying he doesn’t like white people, whitey wouldn’t care. In fact, nobody hates white people more than white people, so he may even be the media darling until the next cycle. Would whitey not care because he is doing well, or is whitey doing well because he wouldn’t care?
Saying all this makes me sick to my stomach. I feel like a doctor who has to tell his patient he has cancer. And the prognosis isn’t good. Especially since you probably think I just compared black people to cancer.