American sports has long been a vehicle for racism. Paul Robeson, once the lone black at Rutgers, had to fight other football players, the coach standing by, to become one of the greatest college football players ever.
Sterling, a rich man with a fake name who owns the Los Angeles Clippers, runs a professional basketball team, said the great Elgin Baylor, his general manager, in a lawsuit some years ago, like a plantation. Sterling oozes racism. He is not the kind of person, save if he, like Scrooge, comes to himself, with whom one would like to be on the same planet.
Could the other owners have failed to observe this point about him for thirty-three years?
Sterling likes to buy favor. But with all the publicity about his saying that his mixed race girlfriend should not be in photos with Magic Johnson or bring blacks to Clippers' games, the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP just cancelled a farcical "lifetime achievement award" - Sterling's third...- and returned a “contribution.” In thinking he can buy favor, he is like Dan Snyder, the sad Jewish owner of an explicitly named racist team in Washington, who now has set up “The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation,” and claims, more depravedly and amusingly yet, that he “really gets it.”
Congress passed NAGPRA - the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act in 1996 - an act for the returning of severed body parts of several million people still held onto by racists because stealing of indigenous body parts is as American as apple pie. See here. The Smithsonian still has the better part of 20,000 skulls. It has recently returned some from the Sand Creek Massacre, executed by Colonel John Chivington and made possible by Governor John Evans, to Otto Braided Hair and David Halaas last year.
Because of student protest in 1974, the Iliff School of Theology returned a book wrapped in human skin which had been put at the front of its Library for burial.
Lampshades made of human skin, Mr. Snyder – do you “get that”?
But Adam Silver, the new head of the NBA, has just banned Sterling for life and will ask the owners to force him to sell the team. It will take a three-fourths vote, but the mood seems promising (see below). That is a jolt. It is decisive, and the opposite of racism. That is an example for the NFL with regard to Mr. Snyder and at least changing the Washington name.
There has been a great movement from below for gradual emancipation during the American Revolution - see my Black Patriots and Loyalists here - which resulted in freedom in the North by 1804. There has been a Civil War in which the South was defeated mainly by black soldiers (80% of those recruited after the Emancipation Proclamation) and slave uprisings (the burning of plantations during Sherman's March through Georgia). There have been a civil rights movement and rebellions in American cities to fight legal segregation. And finally, there has been a powerful movement from below to elect President, against the odds, Barack Obama.
Genocide against blacks, real enough to this day, has at last been at least partially defeated.
In contrast, the American Revolution was partly unified by opposition to indigenous Americans - see Peter Silver, Our Savage Neighbors (2012). The ethnic cleansing from Coast to Coast was far more sweeping even than for blacks: from many millions of indigenous people when Columbus arrived to under a million today.
Now there is a powerful modern indigenous movement centered on Wounded Knee in 1973 and led by AIM with many diverse offshoots and disseminating an increasingly widespread understanding that the demonization of "savages" or the gut "anti-Indian sublime" which Peter Silver speaks of is evil and inconsistent with a decent society.
And there is now a big and diverse movement to change the horrific name of the Washington team though no demand, so far, to remove its horrific owner (along with Sterling, a kind of prize booby - excuse the speciesism...).
Jordan Farrar, my student and friend, also recently sent me a report below of a campaign among Cleveland baseball fans against the team’s symbol removing it from the fan jackets. This is a rank and file effort among fans to do something against racism. They have received threats of beatings over email. And the team ownership has done nothing. Racism is, unfortunately, as American as apple pie.
Since 1998, Chancellors at the University of Denver have taken notable steps against the racism identified with the Denver Boone University symbol. Many at the University have pushed for this and agree – we need an honorable, welcoming/encompassing atmosphere for every student at the University of Denver and so, idolatry about indian-killers and racist symbols need to be renounced.
Like the protests about the Clippers or against the Washington team or against the Cleveland "Chief Wahoo," however, removing the symbol is but a start. For given what I have named founding amnesias about American murderousness toward indigenous people and slavery, an irrendentist movement exists among DU hockey fans to revive it. The father of an owner of a local store even made a statue of Boone.
Notably, however, young people in America, for instance, those who worked for Obama (and are often now rightly critical of him in major respects), aren’t buying it. As with bigotry toward gays and lesbians, racism is no longer at home here. There is now a big movement for democracy from below.
Even wealthy players - Miami joined the Clippers last night in discarding their jackets face down and wearing their undershirts inside out at the shoot around before the game - say: No more! to Sterling. Virgin Airlines, State Farm, Red Bull, KIA and Carmax abruptly pulled their advertising for the Clippers.
And now Commissioner Adam Silver has acted decisively.
This is a new thing, the level of protest and the fear by sponsors of being associated with the odium of racism. It is a step in a democratic direction, one worth recognizing.
But the racist whites who threaten decent Cleveland fans are – in addition to depravity toward indigenous people – fools. For the ever more unequal rule of the rich grows apace – see Thomas Piketty, Capital in the 21st Century - and the facts are glaring. Romney insults his own followers about the “47%” - those pensioners on social security voted disproportionately against Obama... - and got millions of votes. Among Democrats, Jaime Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein (not to mention Jacob Lew and Robert Rubin) strut the stage while decent people who would make very different decisions – put millions of people back to work, for example, rebuilding America’s crumbling bridges or have a jubilee for student debt and put a little of the trillion dollar military/intelligence budget/1280 military bases abroad/exorbitantly paid Blackwater/Xe and other mercenaries into democratic education – often make little headway (A coalition from below however, in England and here, brought Obama’s plan to fire missiles into Syria to a crashing halt…). But under American capitalism with its often intense racism, poor whites lose out more and more. See Michael Reich, Racial Inequality: a Political-Economic Analysis (Princeton University Press, 1984).
For white people are today still a majority even in prison. And poor whites often are still thrown away because of the prosecutor/police oriented judicial system, hamstrung with mandatory sentences by Congress which jails 2.3 million and has 5.1 on probation. 2.3 million is 25% of all the prisoners in the world (more than China and Russia combined...).
In addition, for poor young blacks and Chicanos, a whole generation is being thrown away (this is a result of capitalist accumulation, the removal of a need to hire inside the United States and what Marx called the “reserve army of the unemployed.") That the remedy for this is known in Keynsian programs to put people back to work – see two paragraphs above – is being blocked by a politics saturated by the ultra-rich (Sterling & Co…)
With regard to drug arrests, blacks report smoking marijuana less than whites. But police stops of blacks, jailing of blacks, and unequal sentencing of blacks, permitted by the Supreme "Court," have been far more severe (according to the Justice Department, a male black child born this year has a 1 in 3 chance of being involved with the prison-industrial complex over a lifetime, a Chicano child a 1 in 6 chance, a white child a 1 in 17 chance (compare Sweden; even the last is way too high).
The Supreme “Court” foolishly speaks of this regime – I have just been describing a little of it – “as post-racial” as does the “Republican” Party, while striving to disenfranchise blacks, the elderly, students and the poor in 21 states where they control the legislatures and the Governorship.
If this is post-racial, what is racist?
The NBA, however, is dealing decisively with Sterling.
And as with the elections of Obama, the protest against racism, welling up from below and deservedly humbling Sterling and soon perhaps Snyder, is something new and hopeful.
Democracy is the equal right to vote. People, including my friend Andy Goodman and Michael Schwerner and James Cheney, have given their lives for this.
We need a public square where racist mottos and names are eschewed, and where the history of American racism – both about original Americans and about blacks (“cleansed,” enslaved) - is acknowledged and taught.
The democratic protest against this after thirty-three years and culminating in a swift NBA decision is something new and hopeful.
Now about Mr. Snyder...
"#DeChiefing Is the Anti-Racist Protest That Pro Sports Badly Needs
By Zak Cheney-Rice April 5, 2014
In the past few months, debate surrounding the use of racial caricatures as pro sports mascots has reached a fever pitch. Just ask the Washington Redskins, who've endured significant backlash for both their refusal to change their name and their half-assed attempts to placate their critics.
But a few miles west, fans of the MLB's Cleveland Indians are taking a stand. In a motion of solidarity, a small but growing number have been "de-Chiefing" their paraphernalia by removing the offensive "Chief Wahoo" mascot from caps and jerseys that bear its likeness.
For photos, see here.
Image Credit: Clevescene
ESPN's Paul Lukas noted that while this practice has been around for years, it underwent a resurgence when Indians fan Dennis Brown posted this photo to his Twitter account last month:
"I'm a die-hard [fan]," says Brown. "I've owned a ton of Wahoo paraphernalia over the years, and it's only the last five or six years that I've started to move from being pro-Wahoo to ambivalent to anti-Wahoo."
He adds: "It's been mostly a slow evolution, but there was this one thing in 2012, when I was reading an interview with the Native American author Sherman Alexie in TIME magazine, and at one point he said, 'Put images of Chief Wahoo and Sambo next to each other.' Once I saw it in that light, I decided I wasn't going to wear that anymore."
The photo received the expected ripples of backlash, but many fans copied Brown's lead, marking their posts using the #DeChief hashtag.
The movement even spawned its own Twitter account:
Ohio lawyer Michael Kaus is one of a growing number of conscientious fans drawn to the "de-Chiefing" movement: "When I saw that other fan [Dennis Brown] being attacked for removing his patch, I decided to show my support for him by tweeting my photo," says the self-proclaimed "die-hard."
"When I was a more casual fan, I didn't care so much," he explains. "But since coming back to the game after college, I've always been anti-Wahoo. I'm ashamed that it's part of the face of my team. It's embarrassing that we're holding on to this. If it had any other context, it would clearly be viewed as racist. But because it's part of a tradition, people think that makes it OK. I don't think it does."
The conflation of racism with tradition is nothing new, but Lukas reports that this case is unique because of the conflict it's stirring among fans of the same team. The Wahoo situation "has become a proxy battle for a series of larger culture wars," he writes. "[Liberal] versus conservative, red state versus blue state, even jock versus nerd. Under normal circumstances, these are precisely the kinds of cultural differences that melt away when we root for a team."
But not here: One telling response to the #DeChief photos reads, "If I go to a game and see defaced gear ... I WILL smack you in front of everyone." So much for fan camaraderie.
Cleveland Indians fan in "red face" meets an American Indian/Image Credit: Cleveland Frowns
It's also not helping that the Indians organization has been mostly silent on the issue. They've made encouraging steps toward gradually replacing Wahoo with a simpler "C" logo, but their refusal to acknowledge that anything was wrong with Wahoo in the first place leaves a distinct void in leadership on the topic. In lieu of taking a stand, they're letting the fans battle it out — which doesn't speak well for fostering a friendly ballpark dynamic.
Nevertheless, an organic fan-based intervention like "de-Chiefing" is exactly what pro teams need in order to finally realize that issues like these are important and matter to fans. If the rest of sports fans follow suit, we may have a lasting and impactful movement on our hands.
Zak is a Live News writer for PolicyMic covering race, hip-hop, sports and pop culture. He's currently earning a M.A. in Media Studies from New York University, and graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Critical ..."
Snyder Tells ‘Redskins’ Critics ‘We're Not an Issue’
Dan Snyder, the owner of Washington’s NFL team, made brief remarks to an Associated Press reporter on Tuesday arguing that it’s time for people to “focus on reality” concerning Native American issues instead of criticizing the team’s nickname.
"We understand the issues out there, and we're not an issue," Snyder said. "The real issues are real-life issues, real-life needs, and I think it's time that people focus on reality."
Snyder’s remarks came after his football team donated 100,000 to a high school athletic field in a Virginia suburb of D.C. The donation was based on a letter he wrote last month to announce his Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. "I wrote a letter to the fans and it speaks for itself," Snyder told reporters. "It tells you we did our homework, unlike a lot of people, and we understand the issues out there.”
But many say that Snyder needs a serious dose of reality himself. In a statement, the National Congress of American Indians said, "Dan Snyder lives in a world where he can get his way throwing his money around. The reality is that he is stubbornly defending the use of a slur."
"Here's a reality check: The longer [Snyder] insists on slurring Native Americans, the more damage he will keep doing to Native American communities," Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation representative, said in a statement.
Snyder has insisted that he will never change the team’s' name, calling it a "badge of honor," and he did not respond to reporters’ questions that his new foundation is a way of throwing money around to silence his critics. Instead, he asserted that the foundation is on the right track. "I think it tells you that we did our homework — unlike a lot of people," he said.
But the foundation is receiving a failing grade from many leaders in the Native community, including Notah Begay III a four-time winner on the PGA Tour. Begay, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports before Snyder made his comments, said that the foundation was "a gimmick” and that Snyder was trying to “offset some of the public disdain for the name of his football team. The Washington football team's front office has tried to make the issue about them and it's really not about them. It's about, unfortunately, the NFL and its owners and its corporate partners condoning use of that word.
"I don't think if a similar racially offensive word was used for the Hispanic, African American or Jewish communities that it would be tolerated,” Begay told USA Today. “But because the American Indian people historically have not had much political leverage, or because we don't represent a great amount of buying power from a retail standpoint, we don't get the same level of treatment that everyone else in this country gets."
Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/23/snyder-tells-redskins-critics-we-are-not-issue-154566?page=0%2C1
"The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST
New York Times
Sterling’s Racial Honors
APRIL 28, 2014
Exactly 50 years ago, the Beatles declared that money can’t buy you love.
They hadn’t met Donald Sterling.
Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, just did the impossible. He wrested the racist-of-the-moment mantle from Cliven Bundy, thanks to an audiotape that seems to capture remarks of his to a female acquaintance, who is being berated for publicly associating with black people and, worse yet, appearing in a photo with one. A lady can really ruin her reputation that way.
It’s a jaw-dropping snit, attended by this mind-bending fact: The Los Angeles chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. was about to bestow upon Sterling a lifetime achievement award, which would have been his third honor from the N.A.A.C.P. over recent years.
If you’re thinking that his recurring lionization is explained by an unblemished history until the audiotape, well, you’re as naïve as those adorable lads from Liverpool. He’s been sued repeatedly for racial discrimination, and he put an end to one case, which accused him of trying to eject minority tenants from apartments that he owned, with a multimillion-dollar settlement that was among the largest payouts ever of its kind. (He admitted no wrongdoing.) A former property supervisor of his, in sworn testimony, said that Sterling even fumed that black tenants were smelly and dirty, and that Mexican ones were lazy and drunk.
He has contested these accounts, but has also, perversely, joked about them, exhibiting amusement about his ability to sail above the rap against him. In a profile of him that appeared in ESPN’s magazine in 2009, the writer Peter Keating describes Sterling’s arrival at an N.A.A.C.P. event that year. Sterling, referring to reporters’ interest in him, reportedly says, “They want to know why the N.A.A.C.P. would give an award to someone with my track record.”
The answer’s no mystery: money, which most certainly buys you love, in the form of encomiums, endorsements, acclaim. Just as you can purchase an ambassadorship, you can purchase an image of altruism, and if you want inoculation from, or forgiveness for, the bad you’ve done or may yet do, there are few strategies wiser than taking out your checkbook. Put enough commas and zeros in the amount you’re scribbling and the love will be all the larger. It will wash over you. It will cleanse you.
Sterling surely appreciated this. He placed newspaper ads celebrating Black History Month. He gave minority children free seats at Clippers games.
“He also has, over the years we looked at, contributed to a lot of minority charities, including the N.A.A.C.P.,” said Leon Jenkins, president of the organization’s Los Angeles chapter, at a transcendently awkward news conference on Monday. Jenkins was rationalizing the latest lifetime achievement award — which the N.A.A.C.P. has now rescinded — and its coddling of Sterling over time.
Jenkins dismissed the ugliness attributed to Sterling even before the audiotape as mere “rumors about someone’s character” that were best ignored. They simply didn’t receive as much publicity as the audiotape, which isn’t ignorable.
I don’t mean to single out the N.A.A.C.P. Among many advocacy groups, there’s a cynically transactional ethic: cash for karma. You fund me, I’ll friend you. Advance my cause and I’ll absolve your sins.
In March 2013, the gay advocacy group Glaad invented a whole new honor — the Ally Award — for the Hollywood moviemaker Brett Ratner. This happened little more than a year after he publicly used a homophobic slur and was forced to resign a role as producer of the 2012 Oscar telecast.
What rehabilitated him from devil to angel? Well, he devoted his time — and money — to public service announcements for Glaad. He also raised funds for Christine Quinn, an openly lesbian candidate for mayor of New York City.
In a 2010 story in The New Yorker, Jane Mayer noted that David Koch had given tens of millions to cancer research and had also, unsurprisingly, received a seat on the National Cancer Advisory Board and the Excellence in Corporate Leadership Award from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Meanwhile, Koch Industries was involved in aggressive lobbying to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from classifying formaldehyde, which the company produces, as a known carcinogen.
Some philanthropy is purely generous. Some is prophylactic or penitential: The polluter supports environmentalists, while the peddler of sugary soft drinks contributes to campaigns against obesity.
And some stems from simple vanity, as givers chase glory. Charitable groups play the game, essentially selling seats on their boards and having well-publicized dinners with well-publicized accolades for bigwigs who are hardly the backbones of the cause.
No, these honorees are pathways to whole networks of potential donors. So they’re given seals of approval. They bathe in applause. It’s a strange kind of love. And it’s definitely for sale."
"Clippers Owner Donald Sterling Banned for Life from NBA for Racist Remarks
By Joseph Zucker , Featured Columnist Apr 29, 2014
Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling has been banned for life from the NBA and fined $2.5 million following an investigation into alleged racist comments he made to his ex-girlfriend, V. Stiviano.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced the penalties at a press conference on Tuesday, via Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News:
The fine levied against Silver is the maximum allowed under the league's constitution, via Ken Berger of CBS Sports:
Silver said he will urge the NBA Board of Governors to force a sale of the Clippers, which would require a 3/4 vote, via Berger:
Silver announced that the NBA concluded its investigation with the belief that it was Sterling's voice on the audio tape, via Berger.
Sterling confirmed it was his voice on the tape, via ABC news.
Silver said the league stood together in opposition of the owner.
Finally, Silver expressed the hope that no long-term damage would come to the league or the Clippers organization, via Adam Zagoria of SNY.com and Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders:
Following the announcement, messages of support came in from around the league:
On April 25, TMZ Sports reported that it had Sterling on tape chastising Stiviano for "associating with black people" in public settings including Instagram. He was particularly upset that she would invite Magic Johnson to Clippers games.
Johnson reacted swiftly to Sterling's comments.
The league opened an investigation shortly thereafter, per ESPN.com. At the time, NBA spokesman Mike Bass said:
We are in the process of conducting a full investigation into the audio recording obtained by TMZ. The remarks heard on the recording are disturbing and offensive, but at this time we have no further information.
Since then, multiple companies have disassociated with the organization, including Red Bull, Kia, Virgin America and Adidas.
Kevin Johnson, who is the mayor of Sacramento and National Basketball Players Association search committee chairman, released a full statement on Facebook and described the situation as "a defining moment in the NBA."
I do not think about the racist comments of a wealthy white man who happens to own a sports franchise and who, until this week, the vast majority of Americans had never heard of.
But this much is true: how we choose to deal with Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling will absolutely be a defining moment in the NBA. [...]
Mr. Sterling’s comments represent the worst of ignorance and intolerance. Despite that, we cannot sit idly by and watch him implode. While some would argue that we should watch with glee as this racist business owner destroys himself, for the sake of the NBA, we must intervene and engage to bring this to resolution swiftly.
Sterling's remarks have been met with universal scorn, especially considering this isn't the first time his insular and outdated beliefs have come to light. Deadspin's Timothy Burke compiled the racist comments the Clippers owner has made in the years leading up to this incident.
Former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor said that he had to endure over two decades of Sterling's racism, per ESPN's Max Bretos.
ESPN's Chris Broussard compared Sterling to an "antebellum slave master."
Head coach Doc Rivers admitted on Monday that he declined to speak with Sterling about the situation, per ESPN's Arash Markazi.
Rivers voiced how upset he was with Sterling and indicated that some of the players discussed—albeit briefly—boycotting games, per Yahoo Sports' Marc J. Spears.
Chris Paul, who is the president of the National Basketball Players Association, released a statement on the NBPA's official website:
On behalf of the National Basketball Players Association, this is a very serious issue which we will address aggressively. We have asked Mayor Kevin Johnson to expand his responsibilities with the NBPA, to determine our response and our next steps. As players, we owe it to our teams and our fans to keep our focus on our game, the playoffs, and a drive to the Finals.
The Clippers changed their team website following the news, issuing a statement of unity before Game 5 vs. Golden State (via ESPN's SportsCenter).
The organization also refused to issue a statement (via Markazi):
What to do with Sterling presented Silver with a particularly tricky decision barely three months into his new job. His disciplinary action sets the tone for the rest of his time as commissioner and will undoubtedly be a part of his larger legacy.
CSNBayArea.com's Ray Ratto was among many who compared this situation to what former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott faced back in 1996:
In an interview on ESPN, via the Chicago Tribune, Schott said of Adolf Hitler, "Everybody knows he was good at the beginning but he just went too far."
That was four years after a similar incident in which she admitted to having a swastika armband at her home.
Political analyst Jeff Greenfield pointed out that Major League Baseball didn't take the Reds from Schott outright, but it made her position so untenable that she had no other recourse but to relinquish control, which she did in 1999:
Nate Jones of Goodwin Sports wondered if the NBA will ultimately try the same tactic with Sterling:
Ultimately, Silver went for removing Sterling permanently, and Zach Lowe of Grantland had more on how the sale of the Clippers may work:
Had Sterling been allowed to keep the team by the league, there was a chance he wouldn't have a head coach and players to play the games. Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Rivers and some of the team's biggest stars may refuse to be members of the Clippers organization as long as Sterling is the owner:
Rivers will never return as president and coach under Sterling, sources told Yahoo Sports, and that'll start the beginning of a player mutiny that could result with several top Clippers also demanding out of the franchise.
Clippers fans, and sports fans in general, will be pleased to move on from this ugly incident. All things considered, it's likely just a matter of time before Sterling relinquishes ownership of the Clippers."
"Daniel Snyder: Change the Name
Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington NFL team recently called on people to “focus on reality” and in discussing his Original Americans Foundation said “I think it tells you that we did our homework – unlike a lot of people.” Snyder further stated “We understand the issues out there, and we’re not an issue” referring to the NFL team’s name, the Redskins.
Daniel Snyder, exactly, who are these people who didn’t do their homework and what homework didn’t they do?
What you are stating is that I, as a Lakota and Diné woman, do not have the experience or knowledge to speak about the racism I have encountered that is a result of stereotypes, which your team’s name contributes towards.
What you are stating is that I and Native People don’t have the right to be a part of the conversation that involves our identity as indigenous people.
What you are stating is that Native People are incapable of identifying the issues that affect our own communities.
You have stated that people need to focus on reality.
Daniel Snyder. The reality is you continue to minimize the knowledge and experience that Native people have by inferring we don’t know what we are talking about and that we don’t know what issues our communities face. The reality is that Native people are the best source for identifying the issues that concern their own communities[!!!]. One such person, Amanda Blackhorse, a Dine woman, is taking lead to void your team’s trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on behalf of countless others who identify racial slurs of Native people as contributing towards the societal issues our people face.
The reality is that racism exists. The reality is the term redskins perpetrates negative stereotypes, is demeaning to Native people’s cultures, and the continued use of the term is disrespectful and outdated. The continued use of caricatures and racial slurs of Native people undermine our unique, distinct cultures and identify. The reality is that a multitude of national organizations, such as the National Congress of American Indians and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, support you changing the team’s name.
There does need to be a focus on reality and this starts with you realizing the reality at hand is there is an increasing voice supporting you to change the name.
Nicholet Deschine, Hunkpapa Sioux/Diné, holds a Master of Social Work and is currently studying public administration. Nicholet is a member of the grassroots organization Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry.
Read more here."