Donald Sterling

Truthfully I’d never heard of the man til earlier this week. Then I had the pleasure (sarcasm) of hearing his bigoted rant to his girlfriend – who’s what 30 years old?!

Clearly the statements caught on tape are made by someone who’s racist and bigoted. This person is the stereotypical racist who we all think of instead of acknowledging the subtle but harmful racism found in all of us thanks to institutional racism. While this blatant and aggressive, racism happens, it needs to be addressed, of course. But I feel like when someone makes such awful and hateful comments, and the media leeches on to it so much,it seems like it distracts from the larger issue of racism. What I mean is that focusing too much on any one ignorant individual’s horrific racism is to treat racism as an individual issue rather than an institutional and societal epidemic that lives on in everyone. Cuz that’s what racism really is and that’s why it’s so oppressive and toxic.

Anyways so I’ve been focusing on the parts of this conversation that to me were so obvious but were glaringly missing from the media discussions about this bigoted rant. That is, I’ve been focusing on the tone and attitude. Have you noticed how condescending he is? How he comes off so entitled as to believe he has the right to tell anyone, never mind his girlfriend, what to do. To me his rant is not only bigoted but also seems controlling and is full of all the mannerisms of a batterer. Look, the guy is obviously and terribly racist. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s using/emphasizing his racism in this instance as a means to control his girlfriend. I don’t mean that he’s not actually racist. What I mean is that he’s pulling this oh-so-lovely trait conveniently while he’s also telling his girlfriend what to do. Seriously, isn’t he telling her what to do and not do? What else is he telling her to do or not do? Granted, it’s peculiar he alludes to her sleeping w/men, that’s not the stereotypical possessive batterer. But he doesn’t exactly convey a pro-woman view either when he says this. His comment and tone seems degrading… And who knows? If he is abusive, people who are abusive often contradict themselves. So he may take that all back later and accuse her of cheating, or whatever. I mean, isn’t he the one who’s married? I’m sure he’s a real dream to be with… blah. Oh and a quick Google search reveals a record of Donald Sterling saying some pretty nasty things about women. Yuck.

I don’t know the guy (thank goodness!). So all I’m saying is that to me, his condescending demeanor makes me think of a batterer. And like racism, sexism is often misunderstood and the subtle ways it plays out are ignored while we focus on the overtly misogynistic behavior of a smaller percentage of society rather than the ways sexism exists in all of us.

How he’s degrading women in this interaction needs to be duly noted. I mean to me it’s obvious patriarchy in action. But it’s also clear to me that most of the US isn’t picking up on that. And less obvious acts of sexism and of racism need to be focused on just as much, if not more than the blatantly bigoted acts do. Again I’m not saying we shouldn’t discuss people’s blatant racism and make clear that this behavior is unacceptable. We absolutely should. But only focusing on these stories and blasting them all over the media isn’t going to help us end racism or any oppression, not with the way it currently infiltrates all of society in such an insidious manner.

Oooh, and I just found this article while searching the interwebs – case in point!

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