Clippers owner Donald Sterling is gone, but the problem is not

Clippers owner Donald Sterling

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life from the NBA on Tuesday. (Getty Images / April 21, 2014)

An 80-year-old man who was recorded expressing controversial thoughts about race got banned for life from his job Tuesday. L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling got shoved out and the world celebrates.

You shouldn't be cheering. Keep your eyes on the prize.

See, there's a greasy film around this whole thing. A sense of "OK, you got your guy. Can we get back to normal now?" that makes me sick to my stomach. We're going to talk about this less and less and in a few months, save for occasional updates about who will buy the team. And soon it'll be business as usual.

That's BS. Keep your eyes on the prize.

There are affluent people in positions of power who advised Sterling that the pictures his girlfriend was posting weren't the type that should be widely spread. We should discuss that. The mountains of evidence that Sterling and his wife used discriminatory housing practices for decades is way more important than whether the man's mistress "set him up."

Keep your eyes on the prize.

Sterling is a sacrificial lamb. A follower of social mores and attitudes that have been here longer than he has, Sterling was operating under the normalcy of the situation he was in and just happened to get caught. The people who make bucks off things like NBA teams, sponsorship rights and athletic shoes don't want their money flow interrupted because of some audio being leaked to TMZ. Those people are going to give us Sterling's head on a platter so we don't dare disturb the order of things.

Real change doesn't happen until money gets involved. Keep your eyes on the prize.

What does it say about us that we don't address the systemic issues that lead to these attitudes? Rather than facing the factors that lead to people like Sterling creating systems of housing discrimination or the overall affect of essentially abandoning large swaths of the population to financially (and sometimes literally) starve, we just keep on keeping on. Watching our playoffs. Biting our tongues.

It's disgusting and should be attacked with the fury with which people pursued this case. While I'm sure this is the move that gets Sterling out of the paint forever, it's not going to make me happy.

That day will come when we truly acknowledge the factors that lead to these mentalities and work to change them. Until then, don't get distracted with stuff like this.

Keep your eyes on the prize.

Ernest Wilkins is Chicago's wingman.


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