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April 29, 2014

Why Was the LA Chapter of the NAACP Set to Give Donald Sterling His Second NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award?

In case you haven't read, Sterling has had a bad reputation on matters of race for a long time -- some of it court-documented, actually.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's interesting piece notes some of this, but there's been a welter of reporting on it in the past week.

2006: U.S. Dept. of Justice sued Sterling for housing discrimination. Allegedly, he said, “Black tenants smell and attract vermin.”

2009: He reportedly paid $2.73 million in a Justice Dept. suit alleging he discriminated against blacks, Hispanics, and families with children in his rentals. (He also had to pay an additional nearly $5 million in attorneys fees and costs due to his counsel’s “sometimes outrageous conduct.”)

2009: Clippers executive (and one of the greatest NBA players in history) sued for employment discrimination based on age and race.

By the way, Abdul-Jabbar starts his piece with this:

Moral outrage is exhausting. And dangerous. The whole country has gotten a severe case of carpal tunnel syndrome from the newest popular sport of Extreme Finger Wagging. Not to mention the neck strain from Olympic tryouts for Morally Superior Head Shaking.

But the point is, Sterling has long been the kind of guy the NAACP should be protesting, not giving two lifetime achievement awards to, for God's sake.

So what the hell gives?

I wonder if this had anything to do with anything.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) accepted multiple grants over a period of several years from Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and publicly defended Sterling even after some in the African-American community complained about his alleged racism.

...

NAACP’s LA chapter was financially supported by Sterling’s foundation, records reveal. Jenkins, representing the NAACP, received a grant from Sterling’s foundation at the 2013 Donald T. Sterling Charitable Foundation Gala just four months ago..

Jenkins also accepted a grant from Sterling’s foundation in 2010 at Sterling’s foundation’s charity summit at the Sterling World Plaza. The Los Angeles NAACP was listed as one of the 25 charities supported by Sterling in promotional material for the event.

...

The LA NAACP went ahead with giving him awards despite the nasty racial stuff alleged against Sterling. At the time, Jenkins explained:

“We can’t speak to the allegations, but what we do know is that for the most part [Sterling] has been very, very kind to the minority youth community,” Jenkins said in May 2009. “Over the last ten years or so, 1000 to 2000 at risk youth have been able to come to live Clippers games, those who have never seen a pro basketball game before,” Jenkins said.

It is incredible to me that the guy gives out 100-200 free tickets over the course of a season (and of course there are that many unsold tickets) for ten years and Jenkins cites this as a compelling reason to honor the guy, despite reports of racism.

The exact thing the organization supposedly stands against.

I get it, I get why: Because, of course, Sterling had compromised himself on numerous occasions, which of course then gives the NAACP a way to wheedle money out of him for itself and for causes it approves of, and Sterling is himself interested in buying some latitude from the NAACP.

So both parties enter a mutually beneficial transaction: The NAACP gets money, which it needs, and Sterling gets a pass, and maybe even two Lifetime Achievement awards, which he needs.

But while I understand it, I also understand it's a very shady transaction, and it sure the hell makes the NAACP seem less than principled.



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posted by Ace at 06:11 PM

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