Last week, racist comments in a recorded conversation with his then partner, V. Stiviano, were attributed to Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. Their conversation was sparked by an Instagram post of Stiviano and Magic Johnson. Following the release of these recordings, the players of the Clippers staged a silent protest in which they warmed up with their shirts inside-out, concealing the team’s logo. In response to the controversy, Commissioner Adam Silver placed a lifetime ban and a $2.5 million fine on Sterling, as well as a request to sell the team away from Sterling’s ownership.
While some have lauded these punishments, others have seen them as a temporary solution to a fundamental problem within our society. The National Basketball Association and society in general have condemned Sterling’s comments and punished him for them; yet, Sterling has not changed his racist views, evidenced by the fact that he has neither denied nor apologized for these comments. The issues of identity-based hate that Sterling’s comments have brought up are not solved. Although we, as a society, have condemned and punished, we have not solved nor challenged to the extent we need to.
Among the incredibly painful and disturbing comments was this justification of his racism: “It isn’t a question—we don’t evaluate what’s right and wrong, we live in a society. We live in a culture. We have to live within that culture.”
We do live in a culture. We do live in a society. But that society and culture are shaped socioculturally by many different forms of oppression and identity-based hate rooted in our shared history. Racism, sexism, homophobia, and ableism (to list a few) are still alive and prevalent in society. They still exist and that cannot be denied. There is no excusing behavior like this.
If we choose not to evaluate what we as a society deem to be right and wrong, we will never take steps to dismantle oppression within our society. If we are too afraid to look deep within the roots of society and ourselves, and we choose to remain ignorant, we will never make positive social change.
Because oppression and identity-based hate are ingrained in our society, they are also intrinsic to Chapman’s culture, as evidenced by the following incidents and developments this year at Chapman:
As global citizens, we must challenge ourselves and others to be aware and active in our everyday lives. Let’s take strides in the direction of greater equity, empathy and inclusion. Let’s educate ourselves and stay curious throughout our lives about our collective differences in experience and identity, not just pausing to educate ourselves as a fleeting goal during our time in college. Let’s fight against systems of oppression through greater awareness, activism, advocacy and institutional change efforts. Let’s be on the right side of history—the one that agitates and does not tolerate hate.
Read this to learn more about different resources available to the campus community, including Hate Incident and Hate Crime reporting procedure.