Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lessons from the Donald Sterling Case: Cultivate Stronger Diversity Working Culture


For his racist comments about African Americans, Donald Sterling's professional career ends in disgrace. His less than sterling reputation has finally caught up with him through his latest offensive remarks captured on tape, and he pays the price: banishment from the NBA for life and the maximum fine of $2.5 million.

Deplorable that incident be, yet it is agreed by most, this issue is bigger than Sterling himself and his personal racial prejudices. Importantly, greater efforts are needed to cultivate a stronger diversity working culture, and deeper tolerance for the growing diversity of the American people.

In the following views, some important lessons can be gleaned.

Firstly, this is how NBA Commisioner Adam Silver view Sterling's remarks:
“The central findings of the investigation are that the man’s voice heard on the recording…is Mr. Sterling, and that the hateful opinions voiced by that man are those of Mr. Sterling,” Silver said. The views expressed by Mr. Sterling are deeply offensive and harmful. That they came from an NBA owner only heightens the damage and my personal outrage. Sentiments of this kind are contrary to the principles of inclusion and respect that form the foundation of our diverse, multicultural, and multi-ethnic league.” See here

The swift justice rendered by Silver is described as a victory for both women and minorities:
Racism and sexism aren't competitors -- both are terrible things -- but there is a certain justice to Sterling finally being humbled by his connection to a young, bi-racial woman. It's almost as if his indulgences smashed headfirst into his supposed belief structure, and the result was his own professional demise. Regardless of how you view this whole situation -- through what prism or specific context -- it should be viewed as a victory for both women and minorities everywhere. Read more at

Another opinion in praise of Silver's decisive action goes:
What Silver did was a great lesson in crisis management. He made a bold decision, expanding his broad powers as commissioner to right an obvious wrong.....Bigots have no place in society.
Read more

From hopeful Clippers fans:
"But now, in retrospect, I'm actually glad that those comments were made because it exposes the prejudices that we have to deal with in today's society."
In the eyes of Clippers fans, the crisis Sterling caused may well be an opportunity for bigger and better things in the future of the team and the city. Read more here

A pragmatic analysis by Kathleen Parker of Washington Post:
Making racist remarks can do great harm to the public trust and damage hard-won gains toward racial harmony. Consolation can be found in evidence that Americans on the whole have no tolerance for racism or discriminatory behavior. Read more

Finally, here are two more views worth pondering in the hope these help formulate more affirming inclusive and equal opportunity policies for a more authentic culture of diversity in society to thrive.
  • Racism is a real problem that has survived through generations and generations in this country. It is time to use the opportunity to further the race discussion. - from NBA Hall of Famer, Hawks exec Dominique Wilkins See here

  • It is time to also look at the other dimension of racism: the policies and procedures that sustain our system of racial inequality, writes Jamelle Bouie of Slate. The outrage that comes when a state representative says something stupid about professional basketball players is absent when we learn that black children are punished at dramatically higher rates than their white peers, even as preschoolers. Likewise, it’s absent when we learn that banks targeted minorities—regardless of income—for the worst possible mortgage loans, destroying their wealth in the process. In turn, this blinds us to the racial implications of actions that seem colorblind. In a world where racism looks like cartoonish bigotry, it’s hard to build broad outrage for unfair voter identification laws or huge disparities in health care access. See here


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