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Obama Calls Out Sterling for ‘Incredibly Offensive Racist Statements’

Obama Hosts Screening Of Cesar Chavez Film At The White HouseAmid the cacophony of condemnation raining down on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for the racist remarks attributed to him that were taped by his girlfriend, one voice stands out: President Barack Obama, who said they were “incredibly offensive racist statements.”

Obama said Sterling’s comments were a sign of how the U.S. continues to wrestle with its legacy of “slavery and segregation.”

But the president added that such remarks from “ignorant folks” draw outrage because they’re out of sync with the American self-concept.

“We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often,” Obama said.

He said Americans have to be “clear and steady in denouncing” such comments. But he said we should also “remain hopeful that part of why some statements like this stand out so much is because there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.”

In the audio recording released by TMZ, Sterling appears to be pulled into a conversation by his girlfriend V. Stiviano, who is half African-American and half Mexican, after she posted a picture on Instagram with NBA legend Magic Johnson that angered Sterling.

“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people,” the voice alleged to be Sterling’s is heard saying on the recording. Later in the recording, Sterling says “you don’t have to have yourself with, walking with black people.”

“Don’t put him on an Instagram for the world to have to see so they have to call me. And don’t bring him to my games. Yeah, it bothers me a lot that you want to promo, broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”

Stiviano was sued by Sterling’s wife, Shelly, last month who asking for the return of cash, property, cars and other items that Sterling had given to Stiviano. In response, Stiviano reportedly said she would “get even.”

 “Like Malaysia, we constantly have to be on guard against racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength,” Obama said. “We have to make sure that we stay on top of it.”

The president said he is confident that NBA commissioner Adam Silver will address the situation on behalf of a league that he said is “beloved by fans all across the country.” The league is also predominantly African-American, and players in the league didn’t hold back their outrage.

The Miami Heat’s LeBron James said, “There’s no room for Donald Sterling in our league.” On Twitter, Magic Johnson said he and his wife Cookie would not attend a Clippers game as long as Sterling remained the owner.

Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant tweeted that he would not play for Sterling.

For his part, Silver, who took over as commissioner from David Stern in February, said he would not speculate on what types of penalties might be handed down. But he did point out his office had broad powers. He said the league’s investigation would mainly focus on the authenticity of the recording and its context. He expected it to be completed in several days.

“All members of the NBA family should be afforded due process and a fair opportunity to present their side of any controversy,” Silver said, “which is why I’m not yet prepared to discuss any potential sanctions against Donald Sterling. We will, however, move extraordinarily quickly in our investigation.”

In a statement, the Clippers’ longtime president, Andy Roeser, said that he was not certain whether the recording was authentic and that the club was investigating.

“Mr. Sterling is emphatic that what is reflected on that recording is not consistent with, nor does it reflect, his views, beliefs or feelings,” Roeser said in the statement. “It is the antithesis of who he is, what he believes and how he has lived his life. He feels terrible that such sentiments are being attributed to him and apologizes to anyone who might have been hurt by them.”

To many, the comments don’t come as a surprise, considering Sterling’s history with accusations of racism. In 2009, he had to pay $2.725 million to settle a housing discrimination suit brought by the Justice Department, which accused him of systematically driving African-Americans, Latinos and families with children out of the apartment buildings he owned. He was also sued by the Clippers’ former longtime general manager, Elgin Baylor, over accusations of racial discrimination. Baylor, who lost the suit, said Sterling viewed his employees like they worked for a Southern plantation.

Ironically, despite that history, Sterling is scheduled to be honored by the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP on May 15 with a lifetime achievement award.

Some players around the league even suggested the Clippers protest by not playing. After a meeting, the team’s coach, Doc Rivers, said, “Our protest will be our play.”

Rivers, who is African-American, was hired during the off-season as the team’s executive vice president of basketball operations.

What people are saying

2 thoughts on “Obama Calls Out Sterling for ‘Incredibly Offensive Racist Statements’

  1. Why this matter is not headline news? Having said that, the Vice President of California NAACP, this woman is not very bright. Fisrt I need to ask why do you give someone a second Life Time Achievment Award? The name in itself, it seems to me, only one is needed. This racist for more than twenty years, has been charged with racism, from time to time, and the NAACP comes back after the fact, and hand him an award. On more than one occassion, but many instances, in housing, people who were employed by him, and still he passes under the rador, and get praised by African people. This is a no brainer, what is wrong with black people? Then the racist comes back, since the audio of him telling the woman not to bring black people to his games, and says he is responsible for blacks having food oh their families table. He got that backward, the players are responsible for him being a millionaire. Besides being a racist, he has the mentality of a slave holder. I like the president response. You go ahead with it, President Obama.

  2. Theresa 'Tammie' Parrott says:

    Rev. Wright, the presidents former minister in Chicago, was preparing to retire and Barack Obama was running for president, something happened that still is heavy on my heart and mind today.

    There were people in this country that did everything possible to prevent Barak Obama from becoming president. Corporate media, owned by Donald Sterling types, went after Rev. Wright, trying to destroy his credibility and character. This was done to try to smear Barack Obama. Rev. Wright, being standup man he is, wasn't having it. He knew what was going on. He stood up for himself while the massess of black people were angry at him because it was said if he didn't stop talking, white people wouldn't vote for Barack Obama.

    Rev. Wright was labeled a racist for a sermon he had given at his church. His sermon was about the history of America. The kind of history that is not in the history books we were all taught with. It was the raw truth about America. Because Barack Obama was poised to become the 1st black president of America, the truth was swept under the table because black people was so thirsty to put him into office, we forgot about TRUTH. The now president forgot or didnt care about truth, he's a politician.

    That moment in history could have let truth come alive, but instead, we settled for a lie. What did black people get for it, the first black president? Was it really worth it?

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