The NAACP and Sterling: The Revolution Will Not Be Funded

leon-jenkinsLA Clippers owner (“owner” a term with chattel slavery attachments if ever there were one) Donald Sterling made his billions by excluding and refusing Black and Latino tenants and through exploiting Korean ones. “Owner” is appropriate in this context because he then used the fortunes he made from buying, selling and excluding homes for people of color in order to buy a National Basketball Association franchise, which he would use to buy and sell and profit off of the work of young Black men, whom he showed off to females while they were showering like stud showpieces. He actually likened it to a plantation system – in a favorable way. Sterling also sexually abused his female employees (of which his now-former girlfriend was one) in much the same way that a plantation owner sexually hounded those he “owned.” None of this was secret before. So why did the NAACP decide to reward this white racist, sexist billionaire not once but twice? What kind of relationship do the NAACP and Sterling have?

Frankly, it’s that word: ‘billionaire.’

The NAACP is a non-for-profit that relies on the *ahem* generosity of wealthy donors. Accordingly, there are only so many capitalists that so many non-for-profits can vie for.

But then, why is a chapter of the NAACP – the one closest to Sterling’s racist and sexist practices – willing to forgive him even after the NBA cut him out? Simply, the NBA cut him out because finding out that Sterling was a racist was hurting their business. Pro sports do not care about social justice unless it cuts into the bottom line, and it was apparent that Donald Sterling ordering his girlfriend to not take pictures with Magic Johnson was going to cost the NBA more money than it was worth. This is also why Major League Baseball still approves of the racist Atlanta Braves Tomahawk Chop and why Dan Snyder and the Washington R*dsk*ns are still in business with the National Football League. This is capitalist business, a model forged in the US on the bodies, death and work of Black, Brown and Asian people. It is built on the theft of Indigenous lands and subsequent slaughter of Indigenous people. Has much changed after all, progressives?

And where there is much money and a need to plug in holes, there will be lies and excuses. The rich aren’t like the rest of us, after all. Even to those who are supposed to represent the rest of us, like Leon Jenkins, president of the LA chapter of the NAACP:

God teaches us to forgive, 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.

In supporting Sterling through this, not only is Jenkins lying through his teeth (and establishing very convenient grace theology), he’s showing the sad reality of the Non Profit Industrial Complex: The revolution will not be funded. NFP’s rely on funds from capitalists – capitalists rely on White and Male Supremacy practices like land acquisition and familial heredity to establish and hold on to their capital. The NFP’s are supposed to right the wrongs of the world, but they are often at the whim of the very parties responsible for making such a mess in the first place. And those parties, as in the NAACP and Sterling, have very clear demarcations of whom and how to criticize.

This is not to say that we should remove ourselves from capitalism altogether – that is hardly possible unless you are ready to completely live off the grid. It’s to say that we progressives need to watch our backs and our wallets. We cannot trust capitalists (whether the Kochs or the Gates), non profits, or unions to speak for us or to always represent our best interests. We must organize and stay vigilant at the grassroots level.

Because it’s pretty obvious these parties care more about making budgets than about discarded tenants – despite what their mission statements say.


When he’s not riding both his city’s public transit system and evil mayor, Jasdye teaches at a community college and writes about the intersection of equality and faith - with an occasional focus on Chicago - at the Left Cheek blog and on the Left Cheek: the Blog Facebook page. Check out more from Jasdye in his archives as well!


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  • Bine646

    Im curious if the NBA will address players wearing “five percent nation chains” or others saying it should be an entirely a black league. For those that do not know “five percent nation” believes whites are the devil. Carmelo Anthony along with Jayz (brooklyn nets) wear them

    • 5%ers don’t believe that. But let’s pretend they do. Then what? So what? What harm do they cause?

      I know white supremacy is the devil. White people? No. But White Privilege that worries about what black people think rather than actual practices? Ridiculous.

      • Pipercat

        Moreover, this is a false equivalency and a poor attempt at a pivot. Contracts the size and scope of professional team ownership are going to have personal behavior and moral turpitude clauses. Wearing jewelry as an equivalent is indeed ridiculous. It should also be noted, that the 5% nation is a religious practice, so their fashion choices are protected under the Constitution.

      • Bine646

        which was founded in 1964…….so if Sterling followed a belief similar to this sect it would be protected under the constitution- interesting

      • Pipercat

        So what? Argumentative and irrelevant.

      • Bine646

        Well you need to educate yourself because one of the main tenants of this sect is “white people are ‘weak and wicked’ and that black men hold the power of God.” When asked if he believed this Jayz responded “yea sorta.” Jayz is affiliated with not only the POTUs and the Brooklyn Nets but also other major sport franchises as an agent. Is he banned? Carmelo Anthony plays for the NY Knicks- is he suspended?

        I also noticed you did not address Larry Johnson’s comment for an all black NBA- he’s a NY Knick executive….

      • Oh my! Oh no!! Oh dear lord it’s just like housing!!!! Somebody doesn’t trust white people!!! Oh God, why don’t they like me!!!!!!!

      • Bine646

        Are you letting your daughter respond for you? Pretty childish response there Jason

      • Hey, I’m not the one terrified of Black nationalists. Read a few books about White colonialism and White Supremacy and then get back to me when you can make a link between any 10%er and actual systemic harm they cause. Right now it just sounds like the Fears of a Black Planet. So, thanks for making me hungry for Public Enemy, I guess?

      • John Clark

        I know a good bit about the Ten Percenters: I once had a coworker whose dad was one, but I’ve not heard this term before. It was one of the splits in NOI after the murder of Malcolm X. So, 1965 and 66 is when these happened.

  • John Clark

    When I read mainstream media headlines, they made it look as if Ben Jealous and Donald Sterling were playing one on one games. I skimmed pieces that implied national or state support of this old white man. You actually have to read through your piece to realize this is all about one local NAACP chapter. Yes, the NAACP is a old and storied civil rights group with a large budget and at times has appeared without direction. But that is not how I see it today. Its leading on many progressive issues, including voting rights, LGBT issues, the death penalty & criminal justice, women’s issues, … Tonight, LA is doing its damage control. Over the years, many chapters have had to.

    • I do see that that is something I should have clarified earlier. Local chapters of the NAACP (and particularly in Northern cities) can be and have been just completely backwards and self-centered, but as a whole, we still very much need the NAACP. and its work.