Friday, February 13, 2009

Get It Straight

I'm going to jump right in to this one.

How many of y'all have heard about what's going between the Los Angeles Clippers and Elgin Baylor? For those unaware, Baylor is suing the Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the NBA because he says that he was fired recently because the team's owner discriminates based on race and age.

The reaction to his claims has been pretty standard. People are quickly pooh-poohing the idea that race had anything to do with Baylor's firing. They note that he worked for the team for 22 years, and he only managed to get the team to the playoffs three times. Why stick around so long if your boss is a racist, they ask. Besides, Barack Obama is the president.


I've argued about the topic until I had raw fingertips. I tried to explain that just because you stay in a bad situation doesn't mean you don't think the situation is bad. And, while I can't argue the fact that Baylor has been pretty bad as a GM, he's been bad for 22 YEARS! If they were going to fire him just for being bad, that should have come long ago. (Also, Baylor was probably the lowest paid GM in the league. In a profession where multi-million dollar contracts were the norm, Baylor made $350,000. That's not chump change, but it's a huge dropoff from his peers.)

The response to this incident has been telling. People are much more focused on finding reasons why Baylor must be lying, than examining why he might be right. After all, Sterling has been sued multiple times for housing discrimination. By the federal government. During the Bush era. Come on, if you were getting sued for discrimination while President Bush was in office, you had to have been fucking up big time.

I'm always shocked at how quickly people try to eliminate race as a possible reason for problems. What's really funny, is how these people quickly claim that anybody willing to consider the possibility that race was a factor, must have an ax to grind and be itching to blame white folks for all their problems.

That's just ridiculous. People are arguing that if I take into account one the most important issues in the history of this country, an issue that has started wars, riots and lynchings, then I must be looking for a white person to blame?

That's that nerve.

I mean, how can anyone who claims to be an intelligent and well-informed member of society not think that race affects pretty much every aspect of American life. Who you date, where you live, what kind of car you drive, how much money you make; all of these things are often affected by your race. That doesn't mean it's the sole determinant, but how many studies have to be done before people finally accept that the United States has never been colorblind? What is it going to take to prove this to people?

Anybody know?



Anonymous said...

BM, to me the housing discrimination issue is just HUGE... and should send some real red flags.

The thing is that baylor was a really bad GM, and Sterling would rather keep him around than pay more for someone else

Anonymous said...

The thing that it will take is something that's just not possible. The people who become irate with denial at even the suggestion of how deeply race affects those who aren't white are not ever, EVER going to grasp that simple truth. The only way they could is to wake up one morning and *poof* no longer be white.

Go for a job interview, after doing well on the phone, and puzzle over how the interviewer is .... a little bit different than when they were talking to you on the phone. Roll through a stop sign just a touch too casually and when the cop walks up and looks at you in your nice, average car, you're being asked to get out and if there is any contraband or weapons in your vehicle. Huh? But, you are a respectable, tax paying, average Joe. Why are you being treated as though you're a suspect? Go to a work related social function with your family, only to realize that not only does noone else share your skin color but that after a couple of cocktails, people ask you things like "do you ever sunburn?", "oh, you ski??" and awkwardly use words like "bling" and "we're so down with that".

But, don't ever wonder if people are .... different, a little less at ease with your success, due to your skin color. That would be insulting and suggesting that somehow these nice people are uncomfortable with your race, your ethnicity. How rude! How dare you perpetuate the endless reverting to the race card. How UNGRATEFUL and unappreciative of you. The nerve.


Never going to happen. Gotta pretend that they are so enlightened (no pun intended) and so transcending of race. Otherwise you are fucked, well and truly because the worst thing you can do is to point out the elephant in the room.

Mac Daddy Tribute Blog said...

A lot of the racism is unconscious now. Now white people hire burned out turncoat black people like Juan Williams and a host of other black people to say negative things about us. But if you ask them if they're racist, they'll say they feel insulted that you would ask.

You can some of these Black turncoats on Fox News.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, I'm with you 100%. Black folks have worked for racist mofo's for centuries. Come monday morning, many of us will head off to work to put up with racist co-workers, bosses and employers. Not because we like it but cause there are bills to pay and kids to put through college. The vast majority of employment opportunities are controlled by whites, so just by changing employers, will not necessarily remedy the problem.

I lived in L.A. during the time that Sterling was being sued for his racially discriminatory housing practices. So it's not far fetched that he could bring his racist ideology to his place of business. Just the pay disparity between Elgin and the other GM's makes you wonder, Elgin was making $350K when Jerry West was making $3 mil. Go figure.

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T.A.N. Man said...

Of course racism exists and is an active problem in America. But, I don't know the facts on the Elgin Baylor thing. Racism could be the impetus for his salary disparity with the other GMs, but him being suck ass is also a good reason to pay him less. You raised a good question, though, when you asked why'd they keep him around. But, I would assume that the Clippers have a built-in market with the price of Laker tickets being through the roof. They are like the knockoof designer bags of the NBA--the poor man's Gucci. So, why pay someone else more when the organization probably won't increase its profit margin by much, if at all. Pay him 350k and suck the bottom shelf b-ball fan market dry.

Who knows what actually happened here, but eliminating racism as a valid consideration is always ridiculous in this country.

Anonymous said...

@ Lolo 100% cosign. I was thinking that same thing when two seconds before I read your comment. Once again, Big Man, good post.

Raving Black Lunatic