Donald Sterling was finally racist enough

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As we all have heard, seen and read by now, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught making comments about Black people in a conversation with his mistress. The fallout of which first resulted in the team staging a non-logo-black-armband-wearing protest before a loss to Golden State, and peaked with the Commissioner Adam Silver banning Sterling from the NBA for life and fining him $2.5 million. Silver also said that he will try to force Donald Sterling to sell the LA Clippers, with people like Magic Johnson, Floyd Mayweather and David Geffen.

There are so many talking points that this scandal has raised. Will he be forced to sell? Clearly Sterling deserves the sanctions imposed upon him and many will be hoping that the sale of the Clippers happens as soon as possible. Whether or not he will be forced to sell is another talking point. If the other NBA owners decide to vote against Sterling having to sell, then he won’t have to, which in turn will raise further questions. The fact that this conversation was private but was leaked to the press is another topic. Should he be sanctioned for the views he expressed in private? Should the players boycott the team even though they have a legitimate chance to win the title this season? What I want to focus on is the fact that maybe things shouldn’t have gotten this far in the first place.

When it comes to racism, there seems to be a grey area and a line. Is it racist when a comedian like Chris Rock makes jokes about White people? Racist when Russell Peters makes jokes about Asian people? Were we little racists growing up in school singing ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’? Is it racist that the only current black or mixed manager in the English Football League is caretaker manager/player Ryan Giggs? Is it racist when asked if Black people can get sunburnt? “You are Asian but you don’t wear a turban?”. Should Snoop Dogg have said what he said in response?

Donald Sterlings indiscretions started back in 2009 when he had to pay a settlement of over $2.7 million as he was accused of housing discrimination – not allowing Black and Hispanic people to rent out apartments he owned. Prior to that, in 2003, it is alleged that he tried to force out non-Koreans out of apartments he owned in Koreatown, LA. He had bought the then San Diego Clippers in 1981 but no-one had said anything. Neither the NBA nor players made any real protest about a man who had also been alleged to have made unsavory comments about Black people before the weekend. Great, the NBA, players, journalists and fans have reacted now, but what about back then? Does it really take hard evidence like a taped phone call for action to be taken?

Evidently it does. Maybe the NBA didn’t react because the housing scandal has nothing to do with basketball. Maybe the average fan turned a blind eye because they weren’t being forced out of their homes. Maybe the players said nothing because he was still signing their checks. There were no maybe about what Sterling said. I can own them, smile and like them professionally, but personally I don’t even want my girl on the side to be associated with them. It’s about the money. Btw this girl is mixed Black and Mexican. Go figure…
And then there is the Washington Redskins and Daniel Snyder. Many people feel as though the name Redskins is racist. Snyder continues to deny it is and the likelihood of the name being changed is very slim. Why? Why not change it? Because it’s going to cost millions. However, I’m sure if TMZ got hold of a recording of Snyder saying something negative about Native Americans, swift action would be taken. Fans and players are not boycotting the team because of this. There may be some action outside of the franchise, but inside they are preparing for the draft and skirting around the issue with some players referring to the team as “the Skins” to express passive displeasure.
Maybe its worth considering how being passive is ultimately rewarded. The peaceful protest leaders such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr have been praised while those who feel as though they need to be active are extremists. Malcolm X. Patrice Lumumba. It seems as though no-one wants to stand up like Muhammed Ali in 1967 and refuse to be a part of something they deem illegitimate.

Maybe we need to take a long look at what is happening around us and stop racist behaviours before they are allowed to go unchecked and understated. The NBA should have said something before. When Sterling was denying housing to minorities in 2009, the NBA was 82% black. The majority could have spoken but didn’t. The power ultimately rests with the fans. The majority. When the majority is united, then things can happen. Of course there were people clambering for Sterlings head back in 2003 and 2009 but they were in the minority. Maybe now when Blacks, Hispanics, Asians or even Whites; whenever a minority complains about institutional racism and we can’t see it, it’s up to us to listen. Institutionalised racism is a real thing guys. Burning crosses and Swastikas have been replaced by suits and smiles.

Racism still alive they just be concealing it – Kayne West

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Not infront of me please

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So the lesson is over, and I’m getting my stuff to go home after one of my weekly teaching appointments. The lesson could have gone better but hey, progress is being made even if it is sometimes painfully slow. Because it’s now evening, both parents are home and the dad takes this opportunity to ask how his son is doing. Gheeze what do I say?

“Really well!” I reply. “He really is doing well although if he just put a little more time into it, things would be even better” I say, smiling a tight-lipped-this-is-kinda-long-smile.
“Well the lazy part he gets from his mother.” replies the Dad. Cringe number 1. I force a laugh and glance at my bag hoping that he sees my intent to leave as soon as possible.
“Remember what I told you today Richard?” I ask, deflecting my attention to my begrudging student. “Practise with a metronome from now on. Can he use the internet or a phone when he practises until you get a metronome?” I ask his Dad.
“I can use your phone can’t I Mum?” Richard calls out to his Mum.
“Sure honey,” She replies.
“Tell me how to do it; she’s rubbish with technology,” the Dad says under his breath. Cringe number 2. I reply that there are many free metronomes online or available from the App Store or Google Play, hoping that someone in the house knows what I’m talking about. I’m going to miss the start of Eastenders. I don’t even watch Eastenders but right now the prospect of it is more exciting than this.
“Ok, so next week, same time?” I say.
“Yes,” calls the Mum from the kitchen, “I have a meeting I have to be at but Brian will be here.”
“You didn’t tell me that,” replies Brian, “I don’t know if i’ll be in the country next week.”
“Why didn’t you tell me that? When were you going to tell me?” asks the Mum. Cringe number 3. I want to go home. Now.
“You can call me when you know, the plan for next week” I say sheepishly. Did I just say that out loud? I hope so. Brian lets out a disgruntled sigh and seemingly braces himself for the inevitable verbal onslaught.
“You always do this,” the Mum scowls. “Why can’t you just tell me your plans? You can’t just make plans whenever you want to. We have children and responsibilities…”. Cringe number 4. She continues talking but I manage to block out her rant. Richard has left the ‘conversation’ and is now watching cartoons on TV. Why are they doing this in front of me? What did I do to deserve this? Are Ricky and Bianca still together?
“I’m sorry,” apologises Brian. “Give us a sec.” Cringe number 5.
“No it’s fine,” I reply “take your time.” Why did I say that? It’s not fine but what can I say? I’m still waiting to get paid too.
Brian retreats into the kitchen and shuts the door. I can hear raised voices but am not interested in whats being said. Should I just leave? Sit and watch cartoons? Call someone and ask whats happening in Eastenders?

Is it too much to ask not to argue in front of me? True I’m not a guest; I’m effectively hired help but it doesn’t mean I need to witness arguments like this. Maybe some of you out there have experienced being caught in the middle of a domestic before and I often wonder how other people deal with it. Sadly I’m getting used to it now, sometimes even feeling tension as soon as I step foot in the door. I guess part of teaching means that you do get more and more involved in the family life but at what point do those lines become blurred? When you become more of a family friend rather than a teacher, things that wouldn’t be acceptable for you to see and hear suddenly become routine. I’m sure there is a way to keep things separate but clearly I haven’t mastered that technique yet.

Finally after what seems to be an eternity consisting of me staring at the pictures in the hall, the Mum emerges, seemingly victorious and tells me that the same time next week will be fine, pays me and apologises for the delay.
“No It’s fine,” I reply, “see you next week”.
I exhale as I close the door behind me and walk to my bus stop. What have I learnt today?
1. I need to reconnect with my inner child and watch cartoons.
2. Mums always win

Congratulations to Jermain Jackman

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Last night Jermain Jackman beat Christina Marie and Sally Barker to the title of The Voice winner 2014. I’ve never been a big fan of shows like the Voice or X-factor so I didn’t even realise the final was last night until the channel was abruptly changed by a family member. I caught the announcement and left the house being told to take inspiration from the fact that there is nothing you can’t achieve if you work hard for it. Take inspiration from the Voice? A programme which seems to lack objective vocal advice and direction, promotes the all too British feeling of ‘you are great’ and ‘everyone is a winner’, and leaves the singers’ fate in the hands of the British public rather than musical professionals, who are not concerned about someone on their team winning?? Fat chance.

Jermain Jackman is 19 years old and is from Hackney in East London. There are many young black boys with aspirations of winning such shows and enjoying a lifelong career in music, but having the ambition to become Prime Minister is a different thing altogether. It was Will.I.Ams message to Jermain ‘you wanna be the first black Prime Minister – means a lot of people will giggle and dismiss you as being cute, but you can prove them wrong’ was multi-leveled and somewhat ominous statement. If Jermain is to become Prime Minister one day, he has a very long way to go. Unlike America, Britain does not have a track record of entertainers or sportsmen getting into mainstream politics. Ronald Reagan and Arnie have shown that you can make that transition (effectiveness is another story) and Presidents have indulged in the arts and media; Bill Clintons saxophone playing the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall show and George W Bush throwing the first baseball pitch after 9/11 at Yankee stadium. President Obama has sung, danced and acted during his tenure in the White House. But Obamas interview with Zach Galifianakis is the equivalent of David Cameron singing and politicizing ‘£1 Fish’ on the Graham Norton show. It’s just not going to happen.

Not only does Jermain have to become a successful artist, but he will have to bridge that political/media gap that only Boris Johnson can boast to having achieved (if indeed his activities are something to be boasted about). After all, what Black british male singer has had a fairly long, successful solo singing career? Seal is the notable standout. Craig David is still chugging away and Lemar has faded into obscurity. Labrinth?? (Forgive me if I’ve missed someone) Maybe Jermain has a chance to not only surpass their musical achievements, but take it a step further and in the hopes of becoming Britains first Black Prime Minister.

‘…Obamas interview with Zach Galifianakis is the equivalent of David Cameron singing and politicizing ‘£1 Fish’ on the Graham Norton show’

The fact that he has these ambitions and has made them public is another thing completely. He now has support all over the country from people who would vote for him regardless of his political views and from one of the most successful entrepreneurs around, Will.I.Am. That’s the important thing to remember. We rarely achieve our dreams by sheer hard work and determination. The most successful people in the world will tell you about random acts of strangers, family support, a partner, friend or simply the area they lived in which shaped their lives more than their achievements or failures at GCSE, A-Level, Bachelors degrees and/or higher levels of education. As trivial as it may sound, the Stephan Williams tailored £795 Donegal jacket he wore for the final, is a sign of the support he has, and ensures that if he does ever enter into a political career, he will probably if anything be the best dressed British Prime Minister ever seen.

So no, if you work hard at something I don’t think it means you will achieve that thing. Being chosen by Will.I.Am rather than any other judge and receiving Cheryl Coles 11th hour endorsement are examples that show that you need the right help and support at the right time in order to achieve something. Additionally, not only does he have the emotional support from an internationally respected Black musician, but from friends and family who as seen last night were so incredibly proud of him. There will be many people who will write and talk about how he can’t achieve his dreams, but I believe that if he works hard he will definitely achieve something. It might not be Prime Minister (although I do wish him all the best), and he may not release top albums for years to come, but it will be something. Like Will.I.Am said ‘This victory is more than just winning a competition. This will change your life.’ I think as Jermain woke up this morning, he realised that it already had.

Peace