News of Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling’s racism has opened up an interesting line of conversation.
While most people wondered whether or not Clippers players would suit up for Sunday’s game, and if African-American fans would stage a boycott, very few people wondered what other communities should—and would—do.
At first, I was content to have this conversation on Facebook, but then Gawker ran an article calling Black people punks, and I kind of got in my feelings.
The article, provocatively titled “Black People Are Cowards,” argues that modern African-Americans readily accept subpar treatment because we’ve lost the will to fight.
In all the history I’ve ever studied, in all the fiction I’ve ever read, I am hard pressed to find an example of cowardice to rival the modern day black American, and nobody wants to be surrounded by cowards right?
… If you’re black, or white, and you go back to work after finding out that your boss is grossed out at the idea of being in the same vicinity with any black person except for the cutie he’s sugar daddy to, I’m pretty sure you’re not who I want in my corner during crunch time. Real crunch time. Life crunch time.
… I call us cowards.
It’s almost as if people have forgotten that struggle includes struggling. You might have to lose your job. You might have to lose your life. That’s what it takes for change to happen. There’s no easy way to do this. If you’re scared to stand up for yourself, for whatever reason, all I ask is that you stop pretending. Stop with the Facebook posts. Stop with the meaningless conversations. Just stop. Be honest. About how you behave. About your part in all this madness. About what you are. A coward. Just a coward. No need to put on an act for the rest of us. We can all see right through each other.
Listen, I understand Homeboy Sandman’s frustration. When it comes to issues of voting rights, police brutality, education, income inequality, wage equality, healthcare—African-Americans as a whole could stand to do a better job of organizing and advocating for our community. But this doesn’t mean people aren’t already doing this work, or Black people have a monopoly on complacency.
From coast to coast, African-Americans like Rev. William Barber and the Moral Monday movement are pushing back against institutionalized inequality in America, but when it comes to fighting racism and bigotry, why are African-Americans always expected to fight alone?
Many were upset the Black Clippers’ players chose to play in Sunday’s playoff game, but very few wondered if their White/Latino counterparts—or fans or Clippers employees—would follow suit.
Why are Black people—who are often the most economically and socially vulnerable—always expected to risk our lives, livelihoods, and futures to protest racism (that affects more than just Black folk) when we are but one part of the system?
Though I understand their frustration, I hope those calling the Clippers’ players cowards are also directing their criticism toward everyone in the organization who claim to abhor racism.
At the end of the day, expecting Black people to carry the anti-racism torch, while refusing to require others to join in the fight, lets everyone else off the hook and does little to foster equality.