Tuesday, April 29, 2014

To Live and Love in L.A: Donald Sterling and Vanessa Stiviano

Every once in a while, the media delivers to us such a rich story involving people behaving badly, that not only reveals the weaknesses and shortcomings of the characters involved, but also reminds us of those of society, that one just can't help comment on it, delve into the lurid details, and laugh about it. Such is the case regarding the saga revolving around the racist sentiments attributed to 81 year billionaire Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

The first question that comes to my mind is how can a hot woman such as Vanessa Stiviano sleep with such a man? I realize that the answer is money, but what about the actual physical process? The body of a hot 31 year old woman, or 38 year old woman, whatever her age is, does not naturally gravitate towards the pudgy, wrinkled body of an 81 year old man. Can ol' Donald even get it up? Does he use Viagra? What is Vanessa Stiviano's psychological process at the moment of copulation?

Proceeding to the larger social issues, the vast ethnic diversity of Los Angeles county combined with its wealth(among the top twenty economies in the world in and of itself as of several years ago) make it a very unique place, with contradictions. I don't see how a hardcore racist could possibly live here. He or she would be driven absolutely crazy by observing vast and diverse communities of people living with and coexisting along side each other. The level of ethnic mixing, as in reproductive ethnic mixing, is phenomenal. And yet, most of us are aware of the regularity and casualness with which racist sentiments or ideas are expressed. Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, I was surprised when a woman of mixed heritage, she may have been part black or Hispanic, openly used the word "wetback" in a work environment in front of numerous Hispanics. Something which I would never imagine happening in a less ethnically diverse Northern California.

It's as if the very ethnic diversity that makes us organically more open minded, tolerant, and accepting, also presents greater opportunities for racist expressions to manifest themselves. For instance, if an Asian person were to nearly run you over and KILL you, would you get pissed off and pull on the edges of your eyes to make them almond shaped in mockery of him or her?

Los Angeles is one of the few places in the United States in which a black man can work for a Korean establishment as a door man, and not only violate the civil rights of his own people, but also violate the civil rights of white people, by denying them entry into the establishment solely based on their race.

Then there are the horrific problems of violence and racial hostility that exist within Los Angeles county jail, as well as among gangs composed of different races in some parts of L.A. county. The inhumane conditions within L.A. county jail cannot be blamed on the inmates, they are attributable to the administration of the jail as well as the society, which should provoke the question, how can an enlightened society allow inhumane conditions to exist within its jails?

Los Angeles has the largest homeless population in the entire country. I used to live within several blocks of the heart of skidrow, which is in a general area under rapid gentrification. There is one square block in particular, bounded by San Julian, 5th, Wall, and 6th, which is regarded as the busiest drug block on the entire west coast, which is ironically located right next to the heavily fortified and windowless central division of the Los Angeles police department. The vast majority of the people who mill around this area, about 85%, are black. I used to walk through there periodically. There are numerous aggressive drug dealers usually in the area. By aggressive, I mean, they'll approach one and pitch their product or offer their services. After the initial culture shock wore off, I realized that it was a reasonably safe area to walk through, albeit not pleasant. Most residents of Los Angeles will never walk through there and see the reality that our society creates, in fact, most people are afraid to walk through there, and I always hear people express their disgust with the area.

Then, there's the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP. According to the L.A. Times and the Daily Mail, the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP was about to honor Donald Sterling with a lifetime achievement award. For what? Has he been involved in civil rights? Has he donated millions of dollars to the NAACP, in which case, does this mitigate his behavior? Is he being honored for making hundreds of millions of dollars based on black labor, and in the process creating a few black millionaires?

Does the NAACP not investigate the background of people it honors? According to the Daily Mail, Donald Sterling has twice been sued by the federal government for refusing to rent to people based on race. Once for refusing to rent to non-Koreans regarding a property in Koreatown and another time for refusing to rent to African-Americans in Beverly Hills. The federal government does not go around suing people regarding civil rights unless it has good cause.

While the immensely hypocritical sentiment of a man who has made hundreds of millions of dollars off of the labor of black athletes, yet does not want his girlfriend to take pictures with blacks or bring them to his team's games is condemnable, is it not both hilariously and tragically ironic that if it were not for Ms. Stiviano, who according to the Daily Mail received a ferrari, two bentleys and a $1.4 million dollar apartment from Donald Sterling, the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP within a few days would be honoring the man that everyone is now condemning as a racist with a lifetime achievement award?