The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Commentary: Structural racism unveiled in aftermath of Donald Sterling fiasco

If you listen to the recording on YouTube by typing in the queue “Donald Sterling Racist,” you can hear the infamous discussion between the 80-year-old Sterling and his 32-year-old girlfriend V. Stiviano.

And to sum it up, he is a racist in the most old-school of ways, harkening the days of slavery and ignorance that could only have been fixed by civil war.

Sterling and Stiviano did not blow up virally because of ethics and morals. They blew up virally because they are the quintessential faces of America – hypocritical, materialistic and lazy. A nation filled with ideals and no actions.

John Schlichtman of the DePaul Sociology Department said: “It went viral because it is an easy way for a person to take a stand by taking a shot at Sterling through Twitter or Facebook. Any thinking person would be against the kind of statements made by Sterling; they didn’t require any particular insight or perspective to grasp their injustice.”

Stiviano and Sterling argue for about 10 minutes. Borne from that snippet is a national epidemic.

A Hollywood script couldn’t have paired two more opposite people together. Even the Lone Ranger and Tonto are scratching their heads.

To be clear, neither of those names are their real names. Sterling was born Donald Tokowitz in Chicago in 1934. And 48 years later, V. Stiviano was born Maria Vanessa Perez in Los Angeles.

Sterling is upset that his mistress is broadcasting her black heritage by surrounding herself with black people. He says he would rather her be Latina and white, without her black race being known. She several times asks him how an educated man, a leader of the community, could harbor hatred in his heart against minorities?

It doesn’t matter. He does and he’s in a powerful position.

A paradox to consider, as Americans digest this delicious story, is how racism can exist at a time of such sweeping progression?

The answer is that, sweeping progression is not at the level it should be. Racism like this exists. Sexual assault exists. Homophobia exists. These discriminations exist and they are horrifying, jagged scars across our country. While the rest of us are trying to evolve, to become all-inclusive, tolerant lovers, it’s people like Sterling who drag our culture back down into the gesticulating ooze at the bottom of the well of humanity with the rest of the racists, bigots, woman-beaters and homophobes, perpetrators of crimes that rape the beauty of the first amendment.

Sterling, on a grand level, exposed the ugliness of those kind of people.

Plot conflict: How does a racist man find himself in a business where 75 percent of his employees are black?

How does a self-proclaimed racist who was slapped several times, for millions of dollars in fines, with federal housing discrimination lawsuits abounding, win a “Man of the Year” award from the NAACP?

That’s like Mel Gibson playing the part of Moses in “The Ten Commandments.”

Plot twist: The NAACP gave him a lifetime achievement award. They planned to bestow him with another lifetime achievement award in May, until this confusing social abscess popped and his true bile spilled all over the nation.

Forget Sterling, it’s golden. It’s a made-for-TV movie.

Broken open, with all its juicy guts out, this thing could only have been made in Hollywood. Or maybe Chicago. Think of morally bankrupt locations and start shooting.

No, Chicago, not that kind of shooting.

Sterling called Stiviano a fighter for arguing with him. Then he told her, “You’re supposed to be a delicate white or a delicate Latina girl.”

And she explains back to him, pleading, “I’m a mixed girl! And you love me! I’m black and Mexican, whether you like it or not!”

Stiviano posted a photograph of her with Magic Johnson on her Instagram account.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to…broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” Sterling said.

Well, Sterling, enjoy your permanent vacation from the NBA. You bought the team for $12 million and could sell it for more than $700 million. Justice? Probably not.

But that’s America: institutionalized and methodically structured. Ethics and decency have little value in the land of business and money. So long as the prizes are monetary, human decency will remain irrelevant. And why shouldn’t it?

“The complexities of the issue require understanding the details, so it is not as easy to deem a person guilty at the end of a 30-second news story,” Schlichman said. “But racism is structural; it is embedded in society in complex ways. This, I think, was very clear in the fact that Sterling was to be honored for the second time by the (Los Angeles Chapter) NAACP.”

Yes, professor, in America we will tolerate decades of housing discrimination and systemic racial oppression, just don’t talk about it around a running recorder. You might wake some people up.

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