Donald Sterling’s shocking views on African Americans were revealed by a recording of a conversation he had with his girlfriend V. Stiviano over the weekend, and the ripples are being felt around the country. The tape, leaked by TMZ, is another sad example of America’s fraught history of racial tension, showing yet again that the issue is far from over.
While there’s clearly not much going on upstairs other than a relentless drive to get more money and power, it’s worth examining what goes on in Sterling’s head. How could someone in 2014 ask his mixed race girlfriend (who is half Mexican and half black) not to associate with other black men for fear of making him look bad?
Sterling, who is Jewish, is clearly a racist asshole. But he’s such a racist asshole that he doesn’t even understand that he’s a racist asshole.
Here are some excerpts of the recently updated conversation Sterling had with Stiviano, with our translation beneath:
DS: “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?”
Translation: My understanding of black men boils down to a 19th century stereotype of extreme virility and masculinity. I am intimidated by this.
DS: “You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want. The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”
Translation: I’m old and can’t get it up any more, so understand that you’re going to do what you want. Just don’t promote that shit on Instagram or make it apparent that you’re sleeping with ultra virile black men in public.
V: Do you know that you have a whole team that’s black, that plays for you?
DS: You just, do I know? I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them? Do I know that I have—Who makes the game? Do I make the game, or do they make the game? Is there 30 owners, that created the league?
Translation: Without rich white people like myself, lowly negroes wouldn’t be able to feed themselves, despite multi-million dollar sponsorship deals with giant brands, and salaries that 99.99% of the world’s population could never dream of. Plus, it is well known people pay their money to see senile old white men watching basketball, rather than the supremely skilled athletes playing it.
DS: It’s the world! You go to Israel, the blacks are just treated like dogs.
V: So do you have to treat them like that too?
DS: The white Jews, there’s white Jews and black Jews, do you understand?
V: And are the black Jews less than the white Jews?
DS: A hundred percent, fifty, a hundred percent.
V: And is that right?
DS: 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.
Translation: I can’t be bothered to think about complicated issues, and I don’t have to because I’m old and rich. Blacks are lower than whites, and that’s all there is to it!
V: But shouldn’t we take a stand for what’s wrong? And be the change and the difference?
DS: I don’t want to change the culture, because I can’t. It’s too big and too [unknown].
V: But you can change yourself.
DS: I don’t want to change. If my girl can’t do what I want, I don’t want the girl. I’ll find a girl that will do what I want! Believe me. I thought you were that girl—because I tried to do what you want. But you’re not that girl.
Translation: You are (part) black, and a woman. I’m rich and white. Therefore you should do whatever I say, because men are better than women, and whites are better than blacks. In short, I win.
V: It’s like saying, “Let’s just persecute and kill all of the Jews.”
DS: Oh, it’s the same thing, right?
V: Isn’t it wrong? Wasn’t it wrong then? With the Holocaust? And you’re Jewish, you understand discrimination.
DS: You’re a mental case, you’re really a mental case. The Holocaust, we’re comparing with—
V: Racism! Discrimination.
DS: There’s no racism here. If you don’t want to be… walking… into a basketball game with a certain… person, is that racism?
Translation: Racism and discrimination is wrong when done to Jews, but not when done to blacks, because Jews are white (for the most part) and blacks are, well, black.
Where does Donald Sterling go from here? Given the reaction from pretty much everyone, it is safe to say he’ll be doing a lot more apologizing. But it isn’t clear whether he’ll be forced to sell the Clippers and disappear completely – which is a shame because had he been an employee, we would have been dismissed immediately. But as public pressure mounts, Sterling may be shamed into selling his team and learning the hard way just how irrelevant he really is.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.