The allegations of racism against LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling are nothing new. The release of audio that reportedly captured Sterling spouting racist comments is just the most recent example of discrimination. USC professor and author of “Basketball Jones: America Above The Rim,” Todd Boyd talked to Which Way, LA? about how no one paid attention until now.
TODD BOYD: Well Donald Sterling was actually sued by the bush justice department back in 2005 2006 for the practices that were instituted in his many apartment buildings, People don’t read the paper so much as they used to, but you remember in the past when you would pick up the LA Times on Sunday you’d have a hard time finding articles to read because Donald Sterling had taken out so many large ads promoting his properties.
It came to light that he had, say, certain rules for dealing with African American and Latino tenants, Asian tenants, you know comments about the types of people he preferred in his buildings. Harassing people in essence and things even beyond that. when the Bush administration, the Bush Justice Department- not a liberal administration or a liberal justice department by any stretch of the imagination- charges Donald Sterling, this is something that has to be taken seriously, but it was not taken seriously. And there have been a number of other instances since that time. He eventually would settle, paying what was at the time the largest settlement in any housing discrimination case. There have been multiple instances and nobody seemed to really want to pay attention until this recording was released late Friday night. I’ve been commenting on this back as early as 2006 so it’s sort of an old story for me.
WWLA: What exactly did he do? These are really bad discriminatory business practices.
BOYD: The comments are the least of it, and this is way I’m different maybe from other people commenting on this. This didn’t just become a problem on Friday when the recording was released, this has been a problem for a long time, but now everybody wants to boycott and protest and everybody is all up in arms, but the evidence has been there for a long time.
WWLA: And tenants allege that he not only didn’t want to rent to Latinos and African Americans, they allege that their lives changed.
BOYD: There were accusations that the people working in their buildings should ask blacks and Latinos for their IDsas they came and went, there were other allegations that if something broke, for instance, in the apartment of an Asian person that they didn’t need to worry about fixing it because Asian people didn’t complain. There were other comments about families with children… There’s a whole list of things, a sort of racial practice that he forced his employees to enforce in the large number of buildings that he owns throughout LA.
WWLA: And he owns nearly 100 apartment buildings, how significant was this federal lawsuit that was filed by the housing rights center in 2003?
BOYD: The settlement was the largest when they settled in 2009, I don’t know if it’s been surpassed since then. The point is you have a person who owns an NBA team, who is being charged with housing discrimination in 2003/2004. You know if it had been the 1960s when there were a number of housing discrimination suits, that sort of fits with the time, but this was not the 1960s, this was rather recently.
Sterling’s known for heckling Baron Davis,one of the clipper players from court-side. This is not a crime , of course, but the owner of the team heckling one of the players, calling him names? Not to mention various other people who have sued him. If you add everything up, he’s a reprehensible person and has been unapologetic about this and so the people who have accommodated him in the NBA and otherwise in my mind are complicit in this for letting it go on until it became so obvious that now everybody wants to rush to do something
WWLA: The Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP was all set to give Sterling a lifetime achievement award…
They already gave him a lifetime achievement award, they were going to give him another lifetime achievement award. They gave him one a few years ago.
WWLA: Well they did withdraw the award.
BOYD: The NAACP has no credibility. You’ve given the guy an award, the evidence was there. Why did they not know? It’s not like I have access to some secret NSA files to find out all these allegations, they were in the paper. Why did the NAACP not know? Well, they weren’t concerned because Donald Sterling strategically gave them large sums of money as a way of protecting himself against perceptions around his reprehensible behavior. They took his money willingly. The information was available. If they didn’t know it, that’s their own fault. Now again that it’s a big deal, they are trying to separate themselves. Btu this is an organization that still identifies by the name “colored people” so their mind is also in the past and I think sterling effectively bought them off, and if they had been able to continue to accept his donations they wouldn’t have done anything. This has become so obvious that they feel as thought hey have no choice.