ESPN’s Jason Whitlock: Sterling Was Adhering to Standards of White-Supremacy Culture

“White people should be wearing black socks, turning their T-shirts inside out, protesting outside the Staples Center. This is their culture, their Frankenstein. Or maybe they agree with Donald T. Sterling.”

Jason Whitlock

ESPN writer and analyst Jason Whitlock said that banning Donald Sterling was a quick fix to a much larger problem, arguing that the real issue was “white-supremacy culture” which he contends is “maintained and run by rich white men” and should be most fervently combated by white people:

White people should be wearing black socks, turning their T-shirts inside out, protesting outside the Staples Center. This is their culture, their Frankenstein. Or maybe they agree with Donald T. Sterling.

Whitlock begins his ESPN opinion piece published Tuesday by arguing that giving into “TV-baited mob rule” is always “dangerous,” inevitably leading to unintended long-term consequences. The removal of Sterling, he argues, was “a simple-minded, instant-gratification approach to justice rather than a strategic one.”

Whitlock maintains that Sterling’s lifetime ban and forced selling of his team “solves nothing” that sets a precedent “that will likely boomerang and harm the black players and coaches.”

Let's be careful here. From the owner's box to the locker room, professional sports are overrun with wealthy men in complicated, volatile sexual relationships. If TMZ plans to make "pillow talk" public and the standard is set that "pillow talk" is actionable, it won't be long before a parade of athletes joins Sterling on Ignorance Island.

A right to privacy is at the very foundation of American freedoms. It's a core value. It's a mistake to undermine a core value because we don't like the way a billionaire exercises it. What happens when a disgruntled lover gives TMZ a tape of a millionaire athlete expressing a homophobic or anti-Semitic or anti-white perspective?

After highlighting some of the ways this privacy-violating thought-police precedent might “boomerang” to do great damage to coaches and players, Whitlock moves into the heart of his argument: the deeper issue at hand is “white-supremacy culture,” a culture which whites are obligated to fight.

Whitlock states that the “substantive meat” of Sterling’s tape is that he is simply adhering to the standards of a racist culture maintained by his white peers:

White-supremacy culture is created, maintained and run by rich white men, Sterling's peers. He is the longest-tenured owner in the NBA. Former commissioner David Stern had multiple opportunities to run Sterling out of the league for his bigoted actions. Sterling's peers have always protected him ... until he had the audacity and stupidity to be caught on tape explaining the culture they maintain.  

Whitlock highlights the "comical" actions of the "well-intentioned mob,” which he argues is attempting to isolate Sterling “as if his unintended transparency says nothing about his peer group.”

Whitlock makes clear that this is ultimately a white issue, not a black issue, and thus requires the action of white people to correct:

It's equally comical seeing this issue framed as a "black issue," with black people running to suggest ways to clean up Sterling's mess.

White people should be wearing black socks, turning their T-shirts inside out, protesting outside the Staples Center. This is their culture, their Frankenstein. Or maybe they agree with Donald T. Sterling. 

Echoing the sentiments expressed by the NAACP, Al Sharpton's NAN, and two other civil rights organizations, Whitlock concludes by calling for a restructuring of the NBA to cede more power to minorities:

Well-intentioned white people should be holding nationally televised panel discussions focusing on ways to lessen the damaging impact of white-supremacy culture. Well-intentioned white people who work within or support the NBA should be demanding that the NBA power structure cede some of its governing power to men and women who look like the overwhelming majority of the league's players.

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