Just when you thought there was nothing else to make your head spin regarding those racist remarks by Donald T. Sterling, the owner of the L.A. Clippers basketball team, there is this:
Sterling, despite a long history of racism, has received two awards from the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP since 2008. He was scheduled to get a third on May 18 as part of the branch’s 100-year anniversary celebration. After the TMZ tape controversy broke this weekend, however, the folks running the La-La Land NAACP suddenly woke up and announced that Sterling will not be given his second Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sterling was awarded the first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, shortly after former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor filed an employment discrimination claim against him. Sterling also received the NAACP Presidents Award in 2008.
Sterling has settled several discrimination lawsuits, including one in 2005 that accused him of discriminating against black and Hispanic tenants at properties he owned. In 2009 he paid $2.725 million to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit that was brought by the U.S. Justice Department. Sterling denied wrongdoing and said the settlement wasn’t an admission of guilt, according to the L.A. Times.
Back in 2009, Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP, tried to explained why Sterling was worthy of recognition. “He has a unique history of giving to the children of L.A.,” said Jenkins at the time. Jenkins praised Sterling for giving 2,000 to 3,000 tickets a game to youth groups for nearly every Clippers home game.
Noting that the NAACP had made plans to honor Sterling before Baylor filed suit, Jenkins says, “We can’t speak to the allegations, but what we do know is that for the most part [Sterling] has been very, very kind to the minority youth community.”
Here is what Jenkins and the NAACP missed:
In the Justice Department lawsuit, Sterling was accused “…of systematically driving African-Amerians, Latinos and families with children out of the apartment buildings he owned,” according to the N.Y. Times.
Which boils down to: I’ll give you tickets to attend basketball games, just don’t live in my buildings.
Which is in line with what Sterling essentially said to his girlfriend on the audio tape obtained by TMZ: I’ll pay these guys to play on my team, just don’t bring them around me.
It boggles the mind that it took this scandal for the Los Angeles NAACP to back away from Sterling. As an ESPN commentator remarked the day the story broke, “People who watch Sterling are not surprised by his racist comments.”
Clearly, the Los Angeles NAACP does not watch what’s going on in their own community very well. Let’s hope they do a better job during their next 100 years.