In response to Kevin Palmer’s letter to the editor (Metro Spirit, May 1), racism is much broader than open acts of hatred or intolerance towards another race. Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. That belief can express itself in many ways. It can be explicit, subtle or anything in between.
“Preference of association” can be one expression of racist beliefs. We are free to choose whom we associate with; however, if our preferences hinge on a person’s race, then that is a racist view. Mr. Sterling’s comments seem to suggest that he is of the opinion that there is a social hierarchy based on race and that he resides above blacks in it.
Furthermore, simply because Mr. Sterling employs talented coaches and players that happen to be black does not necessarily mean that he is not a racist. It could mean that his racist views are held in check by his business acumen. (Even slave owners recognized the benefit of “employing” the most qualified blacks.)
That said, I do not know for certain if Mr. Sterling is a racist or a bigot. He has had a few documented race-related incidents in the past, but I am not convinced that those incidents are enough to condemn his overall character. To me, he sounded more like a confused, jealous boyfriend than anything else. I believe that Mr. Sterling’s privacy was violated and his words should have never been publicized.
I agree with you that people are overreacting.
Perhaps Mr. Sterling is not a bigot or a racist, but to listen to him speak about blacks and assert that “he is not a racist by any stretch of the imagination” is naive at best.