by Dr Boyce Watkins
The Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP now has the dubious distinction of being the civil rights organization that was insistent upon giving a Lifetime Achievement Award to Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Most astonishing about the award was that it was set to be offered even after Sterling had paid millions to settle a federal discrimination suit in which he said that he doesn’t rent to black people because “they smell.”
Anyone with an IQ over 12 could also smell something fishy about the NAACP’s decision to grant the award, even before it was revealed that Sterling told his girlfriend that he didn’t want black people coming to his games. Did the NAACP choose to give the Lifetime Achievement Award to a black community activist who’d been fighting for civil rights for 50 years? No. Did they choose someone who marched and nearly died with Dr. King? No. Instead, they chose the old white guy who’d just paid the biggest housing discrimination penalty in history.
If you want to understand the motivations of those who don’t have the backbone to do the right thing, all you have to do is follow the money. In fact, most shucking and jiving in the black community typically comes down to money.
This week, the Los Angeles Times has reported that Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP, is willing to forgive Sterling for his latest set of racial sins, all for a modest fee. Using God, Christianity and the bible as cover, Jenkins goes back to the foundations of why black people were fed religious beliefs that teach us to bend in fear in the midst of battle, even if others have declared war on us.
“God teaches us to forgive, and the way I look at it, after a sustained period of proof to the African American community that those words don’t reflect his heart, I think there’s room for forgiveness. I wouldn’t be a Christian if I said there wasn’t,” Jenkins said.
“We are negotiating with him about giving more moneys to African American students at UCLA, and so we are in preliminary discussions,” he also said.
The team released a statement saying, “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.”
Here’s more from the NAACP:
“The mission of the NAACP is to eradicate discrimination and racial hatred in all its forms, and each year our executive board votes on who we decide that we are going to honor,” Jenkins said. “Mr. Sterling has given out a tremendous amount of scholarships, he has invited numerous African American kids to summer camps, and his donations are bigger than other sports franchises.”
Here’s the concern about the NAACP’s sudden burst of “forgiveness” for Sterling and his track record of denying thousands of minorities a chance to live a normal life. Effectively, this statement is communicating clearly to Donald Sterling and others like him that the NAACP can always be bought. So, if you rip a billion dollars worth of opportunity, wealth or well-being from the black community, it can all be settled for a donation of a few thousand bucks.
Donald Sterling is worth $1.9 billion dollars. So, he could finance a thousand full scholarships with the interest he earns in just a few weeks. This money means almost nothing to him. So, for the NAACP to fight for Sterling’s redemption over a tiny bit of chump change is like allowing a man to kidnap 30 children and avoid punishment by saying that he’s purchased a few big wheels and lollippops in the past.
The NAACP’s national office should step up and admonish the Los Angeles chapter for exhibiting behavior that is in direct contradiction to the sentiments and desires of millions of people who are offended by Sterling’s record of racist behavior. Unfortunately, the national office also has a policy of taking money from the highest bidder, which makes the NAACP an effective clearing house for anyone wishing to cleanse themselves of the worst forms of harm committed against people of color. If I were a bigot, I’d simply terrorize the entire black community without remorse, and then use the NAACP as my financial police force. Their job is not to protect the black community: It is to manage the black community…those are two different things.
The only word that comes to mind when I read this statement is “pathetic.” There may be room for forgiveness for Donald Sterling, but not for several years, and about $200 million in restitution toward those who have been harmed. He certainly should NEVER have been considered for any kind of NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award. There are real heroes in the black community who deserve it and the organization should be ashamed.