Because the Idiot’s Guide to Race Relations isn’t always as cut-and-dried as the confused and woefully privileged would like it to be, damage control can get pretty dicey when hate-speech and racist behavior perpetrated by prominent personalities goes viral, and there’s really no place to hide and find solace once the large moist rock from whence they came has been kicked over, and they’re left scurrying with no clear direction or plan of action. Couple their shame with the fact that, the cult of personality is immersed in an ever evolving digital age and netizens neva4get, especially when you’re a noted figure of stature or celebrity.
While the big bad bogeyracists get to stomp around and hate on ‘the Negro‘ all footloose and fancy-free, other people (whose livelihoods depend on treading lightly… at least in public) tend to reserve their intolerant conversations for kitchen table talk. But even though some folks have painstakingly conducted themselves as upstanding pillars of society, they inevitably slip-up, because there’s only so many years a person can put on a charade, and their folly becomes fodder for the public to dissect. Social media has made it babytown frolics to expose racism from seemingly unlikely (but not particularly surprising) people. All it takes is for one wily sugar baby or aggrieved party to pull the curtain back, and once it’s been signal boosted online or reported by TMZ, it’s a wrap; and as you can imagine, it doesn’t bode well for a well-orchestrated image and when millions of dollars are at stake. Fumbling towards an apology when a person’s deeply-rooted ignominy is exposed isn’t easy, because unpacking years of entitlement and smug authority is excruciating work… Ask Paula Deen and Michael Richards.
High-profile offenders will often have their PR machine working overtime, crafting together a canned statement for them to power through; halfheartedly outlining their colorblindness and how their exposed racism has suddenly taught them how to respect ‘the blacks’. If they follow the Idiot’s Guide… script to the letter, they’ll dig up the ubiquitous black friend (usually a bodyguard) and pay goad them into some awkward public declaration about how ‘very not racist’ their employer embattled friend is; and it’s often pure comedy fit for a Chappelle Show sketch.
Some accidental racists will attend a closed-door meeting with a self-appointed Emperor of Black People; who’ll usually try to place the onus of compassion and ‘getting over it’ on the black community instead of challenging the offending party and the insidiousness of their behavior.
And if the transgressor is a particularly noxious brand of repugnant or your run-of-the mill colossal (but rich) piece of hate-mongering shit, they’ll con some gullible black pastor into inviting him into his church to disingenuously mingle among the bewildered, predominantly black congregants, to thin-lip smile uncomfortably in people’s faces, give them limp-noodle handshakes, and sit amid them as if he’s part of a twisted ‘One of These Things’ guessing game … which is what happened this past Sunday, when former L.A. Clippers owner and billionaire slumlord extraordinaire Donald Tokowitz Sterling ambled into the Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church in South L.A., as if it was the most natural thing for him to do… Actually, it didn’t look natural at all. It was gauche and his dead-fish eyes looked on vacantly (probably low-key flitting towards the exit) as he sat, flanked by his bodyguards.
If pictures could talk, they’d probably tell a rather interesting story not unlike that of one church going family, who wisely paid the stunt-and-show dust and walked out. Other skeptical looking churchgoers were photographed casting leery side-glares at Sterling as he feigned a show of solidarity. According to NY Magazine one member of the congregation said, “I feel sorry for him because, first of all he’s a slumlord. And second of all, I don’t think he really cares for people as he should.”
Because it was only mere weeks ago, when Sterling and his spray-on hair squinted and squawked his way through a bizarre Anderson Cooper interview where he accused Cooper of being the ‘bigger racist’ and of having “more of a plantation mentality” than he does, and insisted that black folks should forgive him for his recorded ‘mistake’, yet could barely keep himself from puking out the bigotry the public has come to expect from him, during an erratic ‘I’m so jelly!’ tirade against NBA Hall of Famer and businessman Magic Johnson; who he erroneously accused of not doing anything for the black community and during which he also made disparaging remarks about Johnson’s HIV status, and the lack of commitment black folks have to their own communities compared to wealthy Jewish Americans to theirs.
But Sterling insists that he isn’t racist, and black folks are just supposed to erase his documented history of race-related lawsuits, churlish antiblack, anti-Asian, and anti-Latino ideology, affinity for trying to run his NBA acquisition like a modern-day southern plantation, discriminatory workplace practices, housing discrimination, and a recent suit by another alleged mistress claiming racio-misogyny because he faked the funk inside of a black church that, undoubtedly, accepted a large financial
bribe gift from him for a photo-op. I get that many Christians (especially black Christians) are big on forgiveness and eschewing the desire to hold a grudge, but I find it insulting to my person-hood when marginalized groups (again, read: black Americans) are constantly burdened with the task of coddling, negotiating with, and extending hospitality to unrepentant racists who wouldn’t courtesy-pee on a black person if any of us got stung by a jellyfish, and who have no real desire to unpack their privilege and rehab their behavior.
I’m also disappointed that the pastor of Praises of Zion Missionary Baptist Church didn’t remember the first rule of thumb when dealing with a vampire: you do NOT, under any circumstances, invite them into your home or safe spaces, duh. Break out the sage.