By ALEASA M. WORD
There’s been a buzz going on for days and social media has been set ablaze with commentary about IT. Office workers have spoken of IT in disgust. Penalties were imposed and now all of America sits and waits wondering what’s next as it pertains to Donald Sterling, owner of the Clippers Basketball team and what I affectionately call “The Race Factor 101″.
Racism is something people have continued to say has been alive and thriving long past the civil rights movement. Everything from workplace imaginary ceilings for minority men to racial profiling by the authorities and community at large of minority boys has been complained about over and over. Yet even with this in mind, affirmative action requirements are being relaxed or even abolished because….we’re all treating people equally right?
Donald Sterling’s blatantly rude and racist comments about not wanting blacks at his games and not wanting Magic Johnson around being heard on a recording was the shot heard round the world this week. This shot, however, has come with the hard lessons that if people don’t get their heads out of the sand and talk about sensitive topics, it will continue to get worse until the days of modern peaceful protests are nothing but noise in a history book.
Because I believe there is a lesson in every mess and a silver lining (buried deep) inside of every cloud I found it interesting to put down thoughts on what this has taught us or should be teaching us. Life is full of “isms” and though what he did was awful, there are equally awful things we aren’t as enraged about and could look at more deeply. In addition to racism, the practice of things like sexism, ageism, classism, anti-Semitism, heterosexism and as one person called discrimination against the handicapped, able-bodysim simply need to stop.
As people continue to ponder the most current “ism” concern adults should really take a hard look at ourselves and think about the conversations we ARE having and NOT having with children. Some conversations are merely the ones they see us engage in through our actions. And though this affects both sexes, it is more often than not we see stories break in media about our men being the ones displaying discriminatory practice. The only way to combat such behaviors is to start early with our children and learn the lessons we all should learn from Mr. Sterling’s recently taught lesson on racism. Things to consider as we move forward include these and many more:
- Ad-hoc or selective outrage on issues of discrimination is not productive in the fight against them especially when we only choose high profile situations to act on. Allowing people including the entertainment industry to continue objectifying women by giving a pass to those calling them bit*hes and hoes should anger us to action just as much as race concerns do.
- Discriminatory practice and hate speech against people because of religion and sexuality should be looked at as equally offensive as any other practice. We should teach our children through “specific” examples and not assumption about why certain things aren’t acceptable to do or say.
- Using the cop out that people are “too sensitive” is not passable in a world that is as diverse as the 21st century but defining sensitivity and its usage is a better route take.
- Diversity and inclusion efforts begin at home and THEN spread to schools and the workplace – not the opposite. When thinking of diversity and inclusion, there is a fine line between having beliefs that we personally value and beliefs that we force upon others to value.
- We must recognize the feeling that many of us have “we can do and say what we want when we want because it’s who we are and no one can judge us” is one that comes with price we all pay in the end. For those of us who are older, many things have to be unlearned to understand the pain others feel because of what we do knowingly or unknowingly.
As much as people were angry about what Sterling said, he was “just being who he is” and expected the world to accept that. The same can be said about any of us who say and do things that we truly believe to be ok in our own minds without regard for how hurtful they are to others. Like anything else, it is ok to grow once you see the impact of the action or inaction and govern yourself accordingly without feeling like you’re compromising.
My hope is that this event is one of learning and not yet another here today gone tomorrow event that happens in the news. The Donald Sterlings of the world were once someone’s children who ended up in the adult world with you and I, and their lack of change doesn’t give them a pass when it comes to hurting others.
Aleasa M. Word is an Editor for Raising Boys on The Good Men Project. She is a internationally certified professional life coach and small business consultant specializing in Chapter II Living through emotional intelligence modeling. Ms. Word is a motivational speaker and workshop facilitator with specialties in various programs including Chapter II Coaching for Men. Find her at www.allergywords.com or on twitter @adub4spirit
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Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.