Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Manifesting leadership in strength

היום אחד ארבעה עשר יום שהם שני שבועות בעמר
Today is fourteen days, which is two weeks of the omer
מלכות שבגבורה
A day of nobility in a week of strength

Thank you, Adam Silver, on this day of nobility, of leadership, in a week of strength. For today you have exhibited those qualities.

There was lots of speculation as to how the NBA would react to the horribly racist views expressed by LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Would Commissioner Adam Silver try to walk a line of doing something without too much impact, something done as a stop-gap measure until the NBA playoffs were over? Would he be able to come down hard on a very rich owner, part of a group of very rich owners all who want to protect their investments--who might not take well to being told what they can and can't say, especially in private.

Adam Silver, just months into this extremely high profile position, faced a situation more more volatile than anything his predecessor David Stern had to face in the 30 years of his term. And while there is still much more to unfold in this story, Silver's decision to ban Donald Sterling for life, fine him the maximum allowed, and direct the owners cast a vote to force Donald Sterling to sell the team was strong and bold. His demeanor in the press conference was calm and firm, clearing acknowledging the issue, letting all know that there was no question about the solution. I applaud him.

I understand the point of those who wonder why it took so long for the NBA to do something about this man whose racism was well know, not just within the confines of the sport but out into the wider world where he engaged in egregious housing discrimination:
. . . in 2003, 19 plaintiffs sued Sterling for housing discrimination. In the suit, Sterling is accused of telling his staff that he did not like blacks and Hispanics, citing their behavior. “Hispanics smoke, drink, and just hang around the building,” he allegedly said. What’s more, the lawsuit said, Sterling told his staff that he only wanted to rent his apartments to Koreans and forced black tenants to sign in when they entered the building. “Is she one of those black people that stink?” he allegedly asked of an elderly black tenant who needed repairs to her apartment. “I am not going to do that. Just evict the bitch.”  (Slate.com)
I agree that something should have been done earlier, and maybe someone will ask David Stern why he remained silent and inactive. But this is now Adam Silver's league, and he did act. Also, although it may be sad that it's just because of words and not actions that Sterling, a large beam of light is focused on the specter of racism still hovers over this country. And bringing that awareness to light may help to remind us all, to teach us all that the fight for civil rights is not over.

1 comment:

tsiporah3 said...

I so wish that Sterling wasn't a Jew, but was glad to learn that the guy who directs action against his behavior is also a Jew. I hope everyone out there who made note of the first also makes note of the second. Sterling's racism is a shandah, a bushah not found frequently in the Jewish community.