Currently, the internet is all abuzz over racist (and plain stupid and regressive) comments allegedly made by Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers. I say allegedly because it is still to be determined whether the voices recorded on tape are in fact those of the 80 year old Sterling and his girlfriend. Apparently, the inflammatory comments are nothing new; only this time Sterling appears to have been caught through a covert recording for the entire world to hear. The NBA team owner is known to have “particular” views about black people. On the recording, Sterling purportedly asks his girlfriend (of mixed black and Mexican heritage) to refrain from broadcasting her association with black people, amongst other “requests”.
I’m not going to use this space though to focus solely on Sterling. If all the comments, past and present, are true they are without question disgusting. They are troublesome too as they colour Sterling’s ownership of an NBA franchise as he has become wealthy on the backs -or should I say via the 3-pointers? – of African-Americans. Hmm, it makes it sound like the NBA may be the new plantation, but that could be the subject of a different blog post.
While the world focuses on Sterling, I have a few thoughts to express about Sterling’s – young enough to be his daughter – girlfriend. I make a few assumptions here: 1) that Sterling’s girlfriend was well aware of his prejudiced outlook and chose to stay in a relationship with him regardless; 2) that she doesn’t care about his views; and 3) has the power to leave him if she so desired.
I believe in “girl power” in the non-Spice Girls sense of the term and the “sisterhood code”, i.e. supporting your fellow ladies or coming to the aid of another woman when she’s maltreated, etc. I’d prefer not to have to call his girlfriend out, but I cannot let this one slide. Frankly, her behaviour is embarrassing, alarming, and makes women, particularly minority women, look like gold-digging fools.
And a fool this woman certainly is. And, if I’m generous, perhaps naïve too. Some might say she’s the beneficiary or winner in the relationship. After all, her manfriend (boyfriend seems a bit juvenile given Sterling’s more advanced years) has likely bought her lavish gifts and offered her the “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” lifestyle that likely was her life’s goal, sans the drudgery and labour on her part. But, regardless, at the end of the day, if Sterling’s reputation is as bad as claimed, and if this young woman is aware, then she’s complicit in his behaviour and not much better than him.
Not only is he (allegedly of course) disrespecting other minorities, honey, he’s also disrespecting you too. Remember, you are the company you keep.