This article is Part 3 in a four-part series from Gerald Torrence on The Truth About Racism.
Now that we’ve been publicly reminded that racism still exists, America must fight the temptation to continue to ignore it, or look the other way. Of course it’s much easier to label the racist comments of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling an anomaly, and shape the public perception of Sterling as simply a relic from the distant past. Those who live with the scourge of racism every day however know better. The intrinsic and insidious nature of institutionalized racism in this country is borne out by the fact that billionaire owner Sterling’s views can be actualized in the corporate boardrooms of the NBA, with acquiescence if not acceptance for over thirty years. It is only by accident or providence that Sterling’s words were made public. Ironically, those familiar with Sterling have known his thoughts for decades.
This public perception of racism is what the NBA is now so desperately trying to erase. In a league that is dominated by African Americans, the threat and risk of a boycott by the players would be an economic Armageddon. This is why NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could say with a high degree of certainty that he had the backing of the NBA owners, on the question of sentencing Sterling to the NBA equivalent of the death penalty. Of course he does, this is not rocket science. Better to sacrifice one of its own, then to risk the continued viability of a multi-billion dollar industry which is the NBA.
The problem with the honest acknowledgement and recognition of racism by the powerful entities capable of doing something about it is that an affirmative recognition requires an appropriate moral response. Once we honestly recognize racism as it is, we must then deal with the question that is begged by this acknowledgement: What is America willing to do to redress it? Once racism recognition has occurred, then society is morally compelled to redress it. This is precisely what America is afraid of … the moral and financial cost necessary to face and dismantle it. No small order! It is much easier to pretend it doesn’t exist, or to delude the public with hyperbole about progress, and disingenuous chatter about a post racial society. The reality remains however, that we are light years away from this ever elusive ideal. The critical question to be asked at this juncture, is whether racial equality is something that the power brokers and the political pundits in this country really want? The overwhelming evidence so far, suggests that the answer is a resounding no!
Unfortunately, America still lacks the willingness to face it, or the moral courage to change it.
Gerald Torrence is a lawyer, educator, writer, social and political activist, and motivational speaker living in Atlanta. You can find more insightful opinions from TheTruthTeller at the-truth-teller.com. You can follow Gerald on Twitter @tttspokentruth.