It would appear Black History Month ended with February’s conclusion.
Not so for Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling.
In last Sunday’s edition of the Los Angeles Times, a full-page ad pictured Sterling next to Blake Griffin with a “Clippers Celebrate Black History Month” headline. The ad’s short blurb describes an event, a March 2 Clippers game, where “In honor of Black History Month, the Clippers will admit 1,000 underprivileged children free.”
Maybe Sterling thought 2011 is a leap year, which could explain the ad’s Sunday publication.
In any case, Sterling does deserve a small measure of credit for deciding to give consideration to Black History Month. After all, he could have decided not to do anything at all.
However, the timing and nature of the “honor” falls completely flat and reeks of insincerity.
The Clippers had 11 away games and only played two games at home the entire month of February, on the 2nd and 26th.
Still, an unaccommodating game schedule alone does not excuse the mistiming of an honorary occasion.
Furthermore, choosing to belatedly mark Black History Month by freely admitting underprivileged children appears highly insensitive and problematic, as it easily equates black with underprivileged, and consequently, generalizes an entire race.
How exactly does Sterling determine a child’s underprivileged status? One can only guess.
More damaging, however, is that it reinforces Sterling’s allegedly notorious insensitivity towards racial issues.
In January, former Clippers general manager Elgin Baylor filed a lawsuit against Sterling. Baylor’s lawsuit claims that Sterling brought women into the locker room to watch players shower as he made comments such as, “Look at those beautiful black bodies.”
As recently as last December, Sterling heckled and taunted a player on his team, point guard Baron Davis.
According to the lawsuit, Sterling also refused to “fairly compensate African-American players.”
Besides the lawsuit, Sports Illustrated has reported Sterling’s problems included refusing to add players to the roster even after injuries depleted the list to the league minimum of eight and proposed dramatically slashing the team budget.
If nothing else, the ad proves that the Clippers, under Sterling’s direction, put very little thought into organizing an appropriate celebration at the appropriate time.
Based on his own history and unresolved past, it would have been wiser for Sterling to let things alone rather than embark on a half-hearted honor that has digressed into a humiliating public relations flop.
March has just started and signaled the beginning of Women’s History Month.
Perhaps Sterling will have better luck celebrating and honoring women.