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Donald Sterling: Team Owner or Slave Owner?

"12 Years a Slave" earned nine Oscar nominations.

There is so much that can be said about the disgustingly racist and hateful comments that reportedly dribbled from the lips of LA Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling.

If the recording acquired by TMZ and then extended by Deadspin is to be believed, Sterling is definitely in the running for “Caught on Tape: Ranting Racist of the Decade.”  (Move over, Mel Gibson.)

How Sterling could fix his crypt keeper lips to disparage African Americans, including NBA and entrepreneurial icon Magic Johnson, is galling in itself, but it certainly stands to reason the audio is legit given past charges that he attempted ethnic cleansing in his real estate ventures as documented HERE.

One would have thought his career would have ended back then, but clearly the gods of Karmageddon were not ready for him yet.  They seem to be now.

The wrath of the sports world and beyond are coming down on Sterling, and rightfully so, but there is a particularly disturbing aspect of his words that keep sticking with me.

He seemingly suggests to his girlfriend, who oddly is not White, that he is forced to be “in the culture” (presumably Black) and that she is not.  Further, unlike him, she doesn’t have to broadcast her affiliation with minorities and he is deeply wounded that she chooses to do so on Instagram.  The bottom line is: Why do you need to be around Blacks if they aren’t making you any money?

This attitude sounded like that a slave owner might have, and in fact, it echoes the sentiments in the biographical film, “12 Years a Slave” when Patsey’s cruel (ahem) owner Edwin Epps dotes on her, but simultaneously sees her and other Blacks as no better than cattle and little other than cash or collateral.

Yes, Sterling is forced– due to his desire for wealth and power– to be seen around, or near, Blacks but he doesn’t want the same for his girlfriend whom he believes he is complimenting by telling her that she could pass for something else.  In fact, he is pained when she asserts her Black and Mexican heritage.

The institution of organized sports is already fraught with polarizing racial issues, from attempting to ban the n-word among players to a seeming apathy toward compensating college players who clearly get the short end of the stick when it comes to making money off of their athleticism.

Though there are many entertainers and athletes who have lived large off the roar of the crowd, it’s obvious that those who live the largest are in the owner’s box.  With trolls like Sterling breathing in that rarefied air, the term “owner” comes with a special sting.