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Kareem gets it right

Of course Donald Sterling is a racist asshole, but those suggesting the Clippers refuse to take the court or fans boycott their games are being ridiculous. Why should anyone but Sterling be held responsible for his ignorance?

Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar puts the Sterling imbroglio in the proper context:

He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years, preventing them from getting housing. It was public record. We did nothing. Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and rope. Shouldn’t we have all called for his resignation back then?

Shouldn’t we be equally angered by the fact that his private, intimate conversation was taped and then leaked to the media? … The making and release of this tape is so sleazy that just listening to it makes me feel like an accomplice to the crime. We didn’t steal the cake but we’re all gorging ourselves on it.

Make no mistake: Donald Sterling is the villain of this story. But he’s just a handmaiden to the bigger evil. In our quest for social justice, we shouldn’t lose sight that racism is the true enemy. He’s just another jerk with more money than brains.

So, if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.

The big question is “What should be done next?” I hope Sterling loses his franchise. I hope whoever made this illegal tape is sent to prison. I hope the Clippers continue to be unconditionally supported by their fans. I hope the Clippers realize that the ramblings of an 80-year-old man jealous of his young girlfriend don’t define who they are as individual players or as a team. They aren’t playing for Sterling—they’re playing for themselves, for the fans, for showing the world that neither basketball, nor our American ideals, are defined by a few pathetic men or women.

Rancher Cliven Bundy poses at his home in Bunkerville, Nevada

Shocked to hear racism from anti-government militant

Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, hero to the Hannity crowd, sticks his boot up his ass and into his mouth:

“I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” he said. Mr. Bundy recalled driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, “and in front of that government house the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do. They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do.

“And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do?” he asked. “They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.

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‘Bama greeks still unsure about desegregation

This might as well have been written in 1964. Welcome to Tuscaloosa, 2014:

A modest proposal encouraging Bama’s fraternities and sororities not to discriminate or segregate on the basis of race died in the student Senate last week—after it was sunk by senators with Greek sympathies, according to several of the bill’s sponsors. …

The proposed resolution was tame as hell; after decrying the school’s longtime “stigma… regarding its legacy of segregation,” it stated that “the Senate supports the complete integration of all Greek letter fraternities and sororities at the University of Alabama, with respect to social diversity among its membership.”

Opponents used a parliamentary procedure to table the resolution before the Senate adjourned from its final meeting. 27 senators voted to kill the bill; 5 voted for it, and 2 voted “present,” according to the Crimson White.

No doubt The Machine played a pivotal role in killing the resolution. For more on the all-white, secret society that wields tremendous influence at the University of Alabama, check out this Esquire article from 1992. Typically that would be considered a dated source, but look who I’m talking about.

The day I visit Kappa Alpha [Order], someone has a Confederate flag hanging in a back window, and there’s a nervous feeling in the air. That’s because fraternity leaders are holding strategy meetings to plan their defiance of the school administration. The university is trying to force integration and other reforms on the fraternities and sororities through a self-evaluation procedure called the accreditation plan. The university has no timetable; but the threat is that stubborn fraternities will lose official recognition — and be forced, some say, to rebuild their mansions off campus.

Christopher “Boo” Haughton, the Kappa Alpha president, can’t really talk for a couple of days, not till the fraternity has figured out its plan of action. He has tousled reddish-brown hair and big, heavy-lidded eyes. He wears boots and jeans and a T-shirt.

He does tell me a little about tradition. Greek life goes back to the time after the Civil War, he says, when the plantation owners sought a place closer than Europe for their boys to learn how to conduct themselves. Boo grew up in Haleyville, a town of five thousand. He’s from old money and says so openly.

“Southerners are a very proud people,” Boo says. “My grandmother tells stories of her mother being a child and throwing day-old biscuits at Union soldiers walking by their house in Pine Apple, Alabama.” He shakes his head. “That sends chills up my spine to think of that. Any association with that war — with what they wanted and what they went through.”

Southerners are not a monolith, Boo. Some of us are embarrassed our relatives were on the wrong side of history. Unfortunately, rednecks like you continue doing your best to keep us in the Dark, er, White Ages.

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The ‘accidental racist’ defense

Farmer Donnie Spell, who has driven his tractor in the Hope Mills (N.C.) parade for years, tacked a sign saying “White History Month – Hug Wht Ppl” to a trailer filled with watermelons that he pulled down Main Street during Thursday’s event.

Spell’s tractor also featured a Confederate flag, which officials said he’s flown before during the Independence Day parade.

He don’t mean no harm.

“I think, if you talk to him, you’re going to see it’s not anything meant to be vicious,” Mayor Jackie Warner said.

Of course, if you’re not a white person you might want to avoid conversating with Donnie.

Cue Brad Paisley.

RED SOX PARADE

Another reminder America’s most racist big city isn’t in the South

When I heard a black NHL player’s game-winning goal was greeted by a torrent of racist tweets it wasn’t hard to guess which city’s team lost.

Par for the course for Boston, where racist sports fans have always felt at home.

Sport and race always has been a combustible pairing in Boston. In the 1970s, when Russell was coaching the NBA‘s Seattle Supersonics, he said that as an African-American he’d rather be a lamp post in Seattle than the mayor of Boston.

Perhaps reflecting the racial attitudes of owner Tom Yawkey, the Red Sox were the last major league team to sign a black player (Pumpsie Green, in 1959). Years earlier, the team held a tryout at Fenway Park for Jackie Robinson and other black players, a charade designed to placate a liberal member of the city council. …

Darnell McDonald, an African-American outfielder in his third year with the Red Sox, said: “I’ve had the n-word written on my car, in Boston. It’s individuals, man. Racism is everywhere; I’m not just going to say Boston. It’s just unfortunate that people are that ignorant.”

He’s right, it’s not just Boston. But somehow Beantown always manages to find its way into any conversation involving racism and sports.