Their views are vile, despicable, shameful, pathetic and hurtful, but we should all be thankful that Cliven Bundy and Donald Sterling didn’t hide their true feelings about race.
See, many Americans are good at faking the funk. We smile in one another’s face, get along at work, fake congratulate each other, yet when we are in the privacy of our homes, the real us comes rushing out like a mighty river.
Instead of being cowards, let’s just be honest: Many of us have negative views when it comes to race. We build on assumptions about blacks, whites, Hispanics, Asians and Native-Americans. We hide it well, but don’t see a need to do so at home.
Bundy didn’t care. He said it to a reporter and didn’t think twice. He got a little politically correct when the news broke about his views on the black family and slavery, but he later junked that and stood by his views.
In many ways, Sterling did the same. Oh, I know he offered a somewhat weak statement that was put out by the Clippers and signed by team President Andy Roeser, but we all saw through that. In fact, it didn’t even come from Sterling!
“Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect his views, beliefs or feelings. It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them,” said Roeser. “He is also upset and apologizes for sentiments attributed to him about Earvin Johnson. He has long considered Magic a friend and has only the utmost respect and admiration for him — both in terms of who he is and what he has achieved. We are investigating this matter.”
This is laughable because Sterling didn’t even bother to issue a statement in his own words, and has yet to even respond to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to ban him from the NBA.
Race is deeply embedded in the DNA of America. It has been with us from the beginning. It shaped the founding of the country. It was at the heart of our most deadly war. Even when slavery was declared illegal, America continued to subjugate black people to heinous treatment. Race permeates our criminal justice system, the legal system, the educational system, the financial system, the housing system and the health system.
Does it mean that we abide by “whites only” and “coloreds only” signs today? No. But we are still facing the remnants of race. Lawyers continue to go to court, filing lawsuits and trying to end racial discrimination. Disparities abound. Does this mean every negative consequence in America is due to race? No. But if we’re honest, we would realize that what took place beginning in 1619 still impacts us. Legacy matters, both good and bad.
Why is this important? Because it’s not just about having a diverse hiring workforce. It’s what you think about them while they work for you. It’s how you treat them and promote them. It boils down to simple respect.
White supremacy is real. It has everlasting impact. A law doesn’t eradicate it. It has to be removed from our hearts.
He may have written the following words in 1967, but the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was profound in “Chaos or Community: Where Do We Go From Here”:
“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they so little to learn.”
People of conscience who are white were stunned to hear of Bundy and Sterling’s comments. Folks like me simply heard and said, “Welcome to my world.”
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Roland S. Martin is senior political analyst for TV One and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.”