We Are The Los Angeles Clippers (And That’s Not Necessarily A Good Thing)
When the Donald Sterling mess dropped, it obviously lit a firestorm, even beyond the NBA and basketball. And it just continued as folks debated whether the Clippers’ players’ protest of wearing their warm-up shirts inside out and black socks was sufficient, as many were calling for the team to boycott the game. Of course, by now, you’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with restaurants, sustainability or food politics. Let us try to explain, because it truly does relate to the goals and change that SWICH is trying to achieve. Because, in reality, this situation is bigger than Donald Sterling or the subsequent player protest.
And that is the inability by all of us to truly understand our power to affect change.
Of all (Black) employees in the world, NBA players may actually hold the most power…ever? More than the owners that employ them. Certainly more than the coaches that coach them. If every NBA player decided to stop playing until this guy was removed, forced to sell, suspended, is there any doubt that he would be? And do we really think the NBA suits wouldn’t just suspend the season until this all was resolved instead of letting the entire season go down the drain? If there ever was a no-lose situation to take a stand, this surely seemed like one, and yet…
At the same time though, this is an isolated incident which fits into a societal pattern that all of us are implicated in. How many of us vowed to stop watching the NBA playoffs (and will actually follow through)? How many of us take actions on the daily which uphold an unjust system that ultimately benefits people that don’t have our best interests at heart for the very same reasons the Clippers did – namely that it would require sacrificing something personally in order to so?
How many of us work for bosses or buy stuff from companies that do a lot worse than say insulting things to their mistresses, solely because the former pays the most or because the latter costs the least?
That’s not a judgment on how people choose to navigate this crazy world and calling people “cowards” probably goes too far. It’s just that if we’re interested in making this crazy world a little more sane, we would all benefit from doing some mirror work, figuring out how we contribute to the very issues we raise our voices against, realize our power, both individually and collectively…and use it.