Everyone from NBA colleagues to the NAACP to President Obama is outraged over Donald Sterling's alleged racist comments—but this is a man who made the millions that allowed him to buy the LA Clippers in the first place through decades of racist rental policies, writes Kevin B Blackistone in the Guardian. In 2003, he paid $5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging he tried to force non-Korean tenants out of apartments in LA's Koreatown; in 2006, he was sued by the Justice Department for housing discrimination including allegedly telling his employees "that black and Hispanic families were not desirable tenants" and refusing to rent to them. Where was the NBA investigation and the widespread condemnation then?
The New Yorker's Ben Greenman agrees, tweeting yesterday, "It's not just Donald Sterling's ignorance that's the problem. It's the decades that ignorance has been tolerated because of wealth." And on Slate, Josh Levin takes it further, delving into what he sees as a troubling truth: "Pro basketball is a business in which most of the employees are black and the vast majority of the owners are white," he writes. And that dynamic is celebrated, with NFL announcers treating owners "like royalty." Sure, most of them probably treat their players well, "but there’s something creepy about celebrating their beneficence, as if money necessarily buys virtue." In fact, that's why Sterling "has remained ensconced in the NBA penthouse" for so long despite his racism. Click for Levin's full column, or Blackistone's.