For over one hundred years you were the pinnacle of black resistance to institutional racism in the United States of America. Since your founding in 1909, some of the most hallowed names in black civil resistance have blessed your roster. W.E.B. DuBois, Sammy Davis, Jr., Lena Horne, Ida B. Wells, Albert Einstein, Thurgood Marshall and a host of progressive individuals with grand reputations in their respective fields were often front and center in lending their intellect and celebrity status to the beautiful struggle for the respect and rights of all people of color in America. But for African Americans in particular, the fight was necessary to gain the rights and dignity of the descendants of former slaves in America who were most likely to be subjected to the practice of institutionalized racism and the ferocious prejudicial social practices on a day-to-day basis.
Things haven’t always been smooth. As is the case with any group of people who band together for a common cause, there will sometimes be a lack of consensus regarding what direction a group is to take one time or another. Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were diametrically opposed on the subject of non-violent protest. Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois’ philosophies ran counter to one another in many respects as well.
Fast-forward 115 years later, and we find a NAACP whose credibility and obsolescence has been called into question since the death throes of old Jim Crow shook the nation back in the 60s. Constant infighting within your leadership elite has been a media spectacle and your inability to evolve to tackle modern dangers to your constituency has been the source of great speculation since the deaths of Dr. King and President John F. Kennedy. But your roots within the beautiful struggle were sturdy enough that you remain as something less than an institution and more of a reminder of what was within the hearts and minds of those who care to remember your place in history.
Now, as the situation surrounding the racial belief system of Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling have come to light, we find that the LA Chapter of the NAACP, headed by president Leon Jenkins, has been latched to Sterling like a jheri-curl dripping leech.
Any and all associations relating to the NAACP and Donald Sterling had to have been well-researched. It bewilders me unceasingly to learn and believe that a lifetime achievement humanitarian award was bestowed upon this wretched individual based upon him allowing you to consume his financial scraps. He published ads celebrating his tax write offs in local Los Angeles newspapers. You are on that list.
A cursory investigation could have easily revealed the racism that Sterling exhibited within his various business structures. He was hit with a $2.7 million fine for housing discrimination in 2003, and was sued six years later on similar charges. He was also sued by former NBA great Elgin Baylor, who was general manager of the Clippers from 1986 to 2008, and had spoken of Sterling’s racism. Though the prejudiced component of the case were dropped in 2009, he still got an award from one of your chapters? Donald Sterling, a documented racist and defendant in a sexual harassment suit, was given a Lifetime Achievement Humanitarian award by the Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP in 2009.
Few knew but you. And despite the fact that the LA NAACP was fully aware of Sterling’s past, they were ready to give him yet another award, this month, until word of his racist tape asking that his girlfriend not bring black people to Clippers’ games was leaked. Sterling’s true slithering nature has now been revealed to the world.
"God teaches us to forgive,” said LA chapter president Leon Jenkins, during a press conference Monday where he unapologetically defended their choice in considering Sterling for an award. “And the way I look at it, after a sustained period of proof to the African American community that those words don't reflect his heart, I think there's room for forgiveness. I wouldn't be a Christian if I said there wasn't…. We are negotiating with him about giving more moneys to African American students at UCLA, and so we are in preliminary discussions.”
I cannot separate myself from the idea that this joke of a chapter is indicative of a greater problem, a cancer of impotence that has ravaged the NAACP’s ability to be anything but a pawn in the greater scheme of things. In the past, I have heard critics spit venom upon your very credibility. Today, we bear witness to a self-evident truth: The NAACP is a house of charlatans and fools. Yes, it’s the LA Chapter. But with LA being one of the largest cities in the country, it can’t be ignored that this branch is an arm of something larger and more at fault.
Isn’t the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People supposed to exist to counter the slave master mindset and philosophy that Donald Sterling espouses?
The Vision Statement at naacp.org reads: The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.
But many individuals and public speakers have spoken to your inability to truly stand up in a radical away against the white one percent, because you have been in their pockets from day one. And now, revelations that your LA Chapter accepted contributions for Sterling help make this point true.
One would think the Los Angeles NAACP has better things to do than suckling on a disgusting bigot for sustenance. Ongoing racism in Hollywood studios, joblessness in the community, the prison industrial complex, gun violence in the hood, and overtures toward building lasting coalitions between steadily dwindling African American and Hispanic communities in Los Angeles county are but a few of the many worthy causes they can been involved in. Yet we find they are as the Biblical whore of Babylon, drunk with things of Sterling’s world. Gorged to impotency on racist miasma.
Anyone whose inequities are laid bare for the consumption of the public will often fall back in shame. Following a statement that was released on the LA NAACP Facebook page on April 27 announcing that Sterling’s candidacy for his second award had been rescinded, people of a progressive uncompromised color are still angry and offended by you.
So, what say you NAACP? As I write this, there hasn’t been an official statement from your Baltimore, Maryland main headquarters on Sterling. Could it be that the slowness of a response from this grandfather of black institutions is indicative of other money-grabbing, symbiotic relationships? No, NAACP you just stay quiet and let clowns on strings dance in your stead.
One thing that remains prominent as a crying shame in my mind is the realization of a stark truth that black institutions are often pawns of one sort or another. The Sterling/NAACP fiasco is likely just one we know of. Pathetic. A great big joke on black civil rights workers everywhere, and throughout time. It’s not fair that I now call into question the true motives of all other NAACP chapters, many of whom are striving in the struggle. But your association by proxy of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP is a poison pill that further hastens the demise of your crumbling public façade as a champion of the people.