Now that the spectacle of Donald Sterling is somewhat behind us, where do we go from here?
Every time something like this happens many people get all bent out of shape, up in arms and outraged.
They hoop and holler, stomp their feet and yell at the television.
Then they simmer down and ease back into their normal lives until the next time, until the next outrage opportunity presents itself.
While it is true that Donald Sterling’s words were disgusting and vile, he’s not the only one.
He’s just the one who got caught, the one who gets the attention.
CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill says, “The Sterling controversy resonates with black people because it speaks to a bigger problem in their everyday lives. The sentiments expressed by Sterling play out in the daily racial micro-aggressions experienced by black people at work, school, and public space. He unwittingly confirmed what we intuitively knew to be true: many people still hold on to anti-black racism.”
He hit the nail on the head, especially with the micro-aggression part.
Those micro-aggressions are the thousand little pin pricks that happen on a daily bases which cause many of us to sometimes overreact and blow up over the smallest transgression.
How many times have you witnessed a friend or co-worker losing their cool over something that most of the white people around you didn’t understand but you did?
How many times have a friend or co-worker pulled you aside and said, “Hey man or hey girl, chill. You’re scaring the white people?”
It’s funny but it happens.
And when it does, it does shake you back into reality.
But back to my opening line, where do we go from here?
Here’s what I think.
Americans have to stop assuaging their own guilt about racism by thinking that if they condemn someone like Donald Sterling or Paula Deen loud enough or forcefully enough that they’re free and clear and are no longer racist.
That is not so.
When it comes to racism it’s the everyday things that matter the most to the most people.
Everyday things like having few if any black friends in your circle, like associating with or hiring mostly people who look just like you, like moving to a black neighborhood because it’s cheaper but not socializing with your neighbors because you secretly fear them, like not being able to tell black people apart, like not being able to appreciate black beauty, like thinking every black person in a store works there.
I could go on and on and on but I’ll stop there and just let you think about it.