An Open Letter to My Kids About Donald Sterling and Racism

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After hearing about Donald Sterling's latest issues with people of another race and the disgusting comments he made that followed, I decided to write a letter to my future kids and use this as a teaching point.

Kids, if you're reading this letter, it could mean one of three things has happened. Either you stumbled across it during a game of hide and seek, in which case, put it down and focus on the game like a champion. Or possibly you were looking for some sort of hidden porn collection and instead uncovered this, in which case, we need to have a serious talk. But the most likely reason that you're reading this letter is because your old man has passed away.

You see kids; I've always liked the idea of endings not being finales. It's why I have to click on every Internet link I see that has the words "reunion" and "Friends" or "Dawson's Creek." And I love the idea that my presence can still be felt even after I'm gone. In fact, that idea led to the night we first started the Bestbians Game Show, but more on that later.

Right now, kids, I want to talk about the issues. I realize that you guys struggle with different things than other kids struggle with, because you kids aren't real. Now that doesn't mean you don't have issues, things like rogue unicorns and people not taking you seriously. But if the day should come that I actually do settle down, be it because that waitress from that one restaurant fell for me or because Nasim Pedrad called me up and said, "Come and get it, Big Daddy" I wanted to have something prepared to talk about real world issues.

You see kids; people have this uncanny ability to simultaneously be the best and the worst things in the world. The same species that gave us waffles and roller coasters is also directly responsible for suicide bombings, racial profiling, and the word "swag." It's been that way throughout history. Ignorant people causing wars, hate causing death, life taking life.

One place we are supposed to be free from all of that insanity is the world of sports. As you know, your Pops was a bit of a sports nut back in his day, and even though I stopped being a crazy fan shortly after they changed the name to "Kia Motors Presents the National Basketball Association" and started making athletes wear logos on their jersey's that are bigger than their numbers, there is still a good chance a sporting event is directly responsible for you being able to read this letter. (It was a Grizzly game, wasn't it? I knew it.) I loved everything about sports, for many reasons, but one was because once you stepped onto a field or court, nothing outside mattered. Not your race, not your gender, your religious or political views, nothing. When people were playing sports together, that's all there was; sports.

Of course it wasn't always like this. Good men like Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron endured years of slurs and harassment by foolish men taught to be ignorant in order to pave the way for others. Their bravery and sacrifice, and others like them, shaped the sporting world as we know it, and I'm eternally grateful to them. Because of these men, people of all different skin colors from all different areas of the world can come together and compete on the same field with each other, share the same locker room as each other, and drink from the same water fountain as each other. They made the world of sports an incredible place.

Not everyone liked it that way though. In the spring of 2014, Donald Sterling made some pretty lousy comments. Kids, you remember Donald Sterling, as one of sports history's greatest buffoons, but you may not know exactly what got him to that point.

Donald Sterling had a long history of ignorance and racism, but most people simply looked the other way because he was the owner of a team and nothing could really be done. But in the spring of 2014, a series of taped phone calls got released by his ex-girlfriend that revealed him saying truly awful things. (Sub-lesson here, kids. Don't piss off crazy girls whose fury Hell hath nothing like.) While talking to his mix-raced girlfriend, he instructed her not to promote walking with or being around black people. He didn't want black people coming to his games. None of them. Not even Magic Johnson.

Now kids, there are several things about these comments that make me want to dry heave. Firstly, he speaks to his girlfriend like she's his property, not, you know, another human being with a beating heart and blood running through her veins. Secondly, the man employed a team of basketball players and coaches who were predominately of the same race he didn't want attending his games. So basically, when he says black people aren't good enough to enter his arena, but they are just fine to work for him, he's making some pretty big parallels back to slavery. But the most sickening thing about his comments is that a person can be that ignorant and full of hate.

I'll never understand hating an entire group of people based on one physical attribute that they cannot control.[1] There are plenty of reasons to think lowly of another human being. Maybe they're a racist prick, maybe they treat everyone else around them like garbage, maybe they're the lead singer of Nickelback, but hating someone simply because of the color of their skin is the highest level of ignorance I have ever known.

When Donald Sterling made those comments, aside from being gross and sickening on a human level, it showed us that the world of sports still had a long way to go. Our arenas and stadiums are not safe from prejudice and hate. It was a very dark day for the world of sports. But we've responded before, and we'll do it again. Every once in a while it is necessary for good people to prove that love is stronger than hate. It happened with Jackie Robinson. It will happen with the Clipper's players and fans. And in a couple months from now, it will happen when Michael Sam takes the field for an NFL team.

Kids, you may want to hate Donald Sterling, and as easy as that may be, I don't think that's the answer. As tempting as it is to fight fire with fire, there's a reason you never see firemen carrying flamethrowers. Good people don't want to watch the world burn. They want to nurture it, save it, and preserve it.

I feel sorry for Donald Sterling. After 80 years of life, a person's brain still functions that poorly and their life is still dominated by foolishness.

In the end, kids, some people are always going to be idiots. There are always going to be people who let their ignorance breed hatred and let that hatred control their lives. All you can hope to do is not be one of them, and focus more of your time and energy on the things you love rather than the things you hate.

There are all kinds of people I don't want you to be, kids. Don't be a liar. Don't be the kind of person that waits to merge at the last possible second even though he sees the signs that say "Left Lane Ends" for the previous three miles. But most importantly, don't be ignorant. Don't let hatred fill your heart. Don't ever be Donald Sterling.



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[1] And I know what you're thinking, but this is nothing like how redheaded dudes give me the creeps.

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