President Obama entered the firestorm over the racially inflammatory statements by Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers, stating at a news conference in Malaysia Sunday that Sterling’s remarks stemmed from America’s “legacy of race and slavery and segregation,” which continues to leave “vestiges of discrimination” despite the nation’s “enormous strides” in combating racism.
Speaking at a press conference alongside Malaysian leaders in Kuala Lumpur Sunday, Obama weighed in on the latest high-profile racially offensive comments, this time by the controversial owner of the LA Clippers. Obama called Sterling’s comments “incredibly offensive racist statements” adding, “When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk.”
I have confidence that the NBA commissioner, Adam Silver—a good man—will address this. Obviously the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country. It’s got an awful lot of African American players, it’s steeped in African American culture. And I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this.
Obama contextualized the statements as more evidence of the “vestiges of discrimination” left by America’s racist past:
I will make just one larger comment about this... The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation, that's still there, the vestiges of discrimination.
Though the president highlighted America’s legacy of racism, he also stated that the nation has made “enormous strides” in that area and that Americans should remain “hopeful” due the positive “shift in how we view ourselves”:
We've made enormous strides, but you're going to continue to see this percolate up every so often. And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why statements like this stand out some much is because there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.