Posts Tagged race

Zero Tolerance on racism? The NBA’s Adam Silver got it right on Donald Sterling

Adam Silver’s NBA media conference had that special kind of feeling. That same feeling I had when as a young boy  I saw Tommie Smith and John Carlos, U.S. Olympic sprinters, raise their fists from the medal stand in Mexico.

This was that kind of special moment for all people of color in society.

And, of course it had to happen first in the place too often dismissed by people as the toy store of life—in sports.

But where else would we see this sort of thing happen first?

Sports has always been the place for the truly gifted and exceptional athlete—many of whom are persons of color.

And when we see their excellence, it is hard for society to square up with all the ignorance that exists on race.  Sports people want to win. They want the best players. When the best players are people of color, it’s hard to harbor a racist thought.

Unless someone tape records you and releases it to the public.

And then, from there,  it really is up to the players, not the bosses.

Great leverage comes when 70 percent of the league’s  players are African American. The players’ recognition of their power made Commissioner Adam Silver’s job even easier.

Morally, and for business, it was just the right thing to do.

But Sterling is a professional litigant. Here’s a guy who wasn’t scared of the Fair Housing Act.

And he will no doubt challenge whether and if the NBA can force him to sell his business, or impose a lifetime ban.

That judgment will take place in the courts, where it always takes time, and money to get the kind of imperfect justice we usually end up with. I expect a long, protracted court fight.

But Silver really showed what an empowered executive, with the backing of the players, and a majority of fans can do—achieve a moral triumph.

It’s definitely “feel good” time. But this battle is far from over.

We still live in a society where soon we will hear from people who will question Silver and the NBA. These are the people who are against things like  affirmative action, who see eye to eye with Sterling, and believe that he was a man who enriched minorities,  bought them houses, cars, put food on their table. There will be people who will insist Sterling is some sort of humanitarian.

Hard to believe. But  remember, we live in a society where there are people who think you’re a racist if you fight for race-based admissions and fairness for people of color.

Enjoy the “feel good” of the moment.

When Sterling responds, it will be a new game, new fight. Already Rush Limbaugh has come to his defense. Surely, he will enlist his One Percent allies, the Kochs, Tea Partiers, et al.

Amid the noise, we will need the memory of the moment to remind us Silver got it right when it came to Sterling.

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New #SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action passes the buck and says let voters decide

The best possible spin on the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action in Michigan is that it doesn’t end affirmative action.

The decision did not say affirmative action was unconstitutional.

It merely narrowly decided that Prop.2, the Michigan initiative that voters passed to end race-based affirmative action in that state could be applied and that the equal protection clause was not violated.

It even sounds good. Let the voters decide, right?

OK, but why do we leave it to the voters to decide on that issue and that issue alone, and not on every single item that the University officials oversee?

Why take that power away from the professional educators?

As I went through the 6-2 opinion, I wasn’t that surprised that someone liberal like Breyer would vote with Kennedy, Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas.

Breyer stated he was for some forms of affirmative action, but didn’t see why the voters shouldn’t be allowed to weigh in.

But then there was Sotomayor’s lengthy dissent, which took the hardline, that this ruling indeed was setting up the situation where down the line we might  see the tyranny of the majority, and see the violation of minority rights under the equal protection clause.

That’s what was at stake here.

The majority of justices seemed happy enough to see the voters figure out where they stand on affirmative action.

After reading Sotomayor’s minority dissent, I’m not sure if that’s such a great thing.

We know how fair elections are now, with money driving everything.

That means we’ll probably see  a lot more SCA-5 style battles–until the court makes yet another ruling on the constitutionality of race based methods in university admissions.

UPDATE: 4/23/2014

It’s not surprising that the courts want to get out of the race business. Just like the legislatures have gotten out of legislating by relinquishing their role to the initiative process for the tough issues.

So if the elections are so important, why do electoral rights seem to be under attack? From the Voting Rights Act provisions, to campaign finance, has there been a more activist Supreme Court to reverse  the rights of minorities?

And now elections are the preferred way to settle racial fights? Sounds like SCOTUS just gave itself cover for its horrendous decisions, putting it all on the electorate.

 

 

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Oscars 2014: A turning point for diversity in the industry?

Like Hostess Ellen said, either “12 Years a slave” wins or we’re all racists. 

Good thing it won. But I don’t know if we’ve really turned a corner on diversity.  Under-representation and stereotypes still exist in Hollywood.  Asians are few and far between, and Native Americans?  In these times, Johnny Depp can still play Tonto.

But my goodness, the list of winners in the top categories this year is still  impressive:

Asian American of Filipino descent: Robert Lopez, composer, Best Original Song, “Let it Go,” from “Frozen.”

Mexican American: Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity.”

African American: John Ridley, Best Screenplay adaption, “12 Years a Slave.”

Mexican Kenyan: Lupita Nyong’o, Best Supporting Actress, “12 Years a Slave.”

Brit director Steve McQueen’s brutally honest telling of the Solomon Northup story is so disturbing, it’s hard to take.

But it needed to be told finally. Doesn’t put closure on the race issue by a long-shot. Don’t talk about post-racial America after a “Best Picture” Oscar.

But I think the industry is beginning to change as far as recognizing diverse audiences.

You can’t deny the winner’s list tonight.

I pretty much predicted how it would go.

“Gravity” was such a technical marvel, but didn’t quite get out of the planetarium for me.

I loved Amy Adams but knew she wouldn’t win. “American Hustle” was good but ABSCAM isn’t Watergate.  And for New Jersey folks, it’s not even Bridgegate.

So Cate Blanchett wins as she has most of the pre-shows.

Same with Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey in the  male actor categories.

Both of them gave great speeches.

I thought Leto’s mention of Ukraine and Venezuela, and AIDS victims brought things a little closer to reality. And McConaughey’s mention of God, was “all right, all right.”

But given the diversity wins of the night, Oscar folks still like things more  tactful than I would have wanted.

Never mind, Lupita Nyong’o’s acceptance speech struck the right chord. She recognized that her success was based on the pain of the past.(A show of humility there). And then after thanking colleagues, she chose to inspire:

“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid. Thank you.”

This was not a night or the time to beat anyone over the head apparently. Not with Ellen playing silly, ordering pizzas and doing selfies.  It was a fun, guilt free Oscars.

And the winners were among the most I can ever remember.

Leave it to Lupita Nyong’o  to help validate the night.

 

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PODCAST: Arthur Chu, “Jeopardy” Champ, On The Racist Twitter Reaction To His Success, And Racism in General, Part 1

Arthur Chu was in Ohio, still working as a compliance analyst for an insurance company, even though he could have many more appearances on “Jeopardy.”

At the time of our conversation he had amassed in excess of $235,000 in just two weeks of shows.

In Part 1 of our conversation, Chu talked frankly about his sudden fame, and how the initial reaction on the internet to his success was extremely racist.

He said the number of angry tweets actually surprised him. But he was most surprised that people tried to deny that race had anything to do with peoples’ response to him.

Play

 

Arthur Chu, "Jeopardy" Champ On The Racist Twitter Reaction To His Success, Part 1

 

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