An Open Letter To Donald Sterling From A Multiracial Mom

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Mr. Sterling,

I have four children that are all sports fans. My oldest daughter is a Los Angeles Lakers fan. My other three are Los Angeles Clippers fans. We are a house divided by the
sports teams we love and follow.

But this week, we were united in sadness. While watching television, the kids and I
heard the racially charged audiotapes that your multiracial girlfriend,
V.Stiviano, made of you rambling on about black people and other minorities.

How could we not? It
was on every media outlet. More stories came out, alleging that this wasn’t your first time exhibiting racism. We heard that you had been sued for housing discrimination for your actions against minorities.  That folks had been tolerating your bigotry for years.

The more they heard, the more
questions my kids had. They represent different age groups (adolescence, teenage
and adult) and each one offered a different perspective. However, all of their questions had to do with racism.

Mr. Sterling, my children and
I are the minorities you spoke about and have hurt. I am a multiracial mom (I am
mixed Black and Mexican), my husband is Korean and our children are beautiful
mixes.

We work daily at raising our children to be mini global citizens in this
wonderfully diverse world. We explore other communities, go to museums, read
culturally diverse children’s books, attend cultural festivals, and try new
ethnic foods. But this week, they were faced with the ugliness of prejudice and
bigotry.

This event is a teachable
moment and I encouraged them to talk to me and ask questions.
As
parents, we may not have control over what our children see and hear. We do
have control over what we say and model for our children. We need to work
through our own discomfort with tough issues like racism, and give our children
the tools to talk about it. We can’t shelter them from all the ugliness but we
can help our children cope. We know that avoiding the problem isn’t the right solution.

Here’s what they wanted to
talk about:

As a sports guy, my teenage
son wanted to know how, in this day and age, we are still experiencing racism
in sports. He talked about how courageous people like Jackie Robinson broke the
color barrier in baseball. He knew that baseball was segregated until well into
the 1940s and that there were separate teams for black and white players.

He
shook his head and said, “but this is not the ‘40s.” He couldn’t understand how a
club owner like yourself could speak so horribly while having talented black
and minority players on your team like Blake Griffin, Chris Paul
and Jamal Crawford (his favorites). Not to mention the fans in the stands that pay big money to watch
our sports teams… we come in all colors, shapes and sizes.

According to Pew Research, “From 2000 to
2010, the population growth in the United States was driven almost exclusively
by racial and ethnic minorities. Overall, racial and ethnic minorities
accounted for 91.7% of the nation’s population growth over the past 10 years.”

You see, Mr. Sterling, with
these numbers, we are not going anywhere. We are proud (insert ethnicity here) Americans.
We all aren’t the “lazy, smelly” minorities that you refer to us as and refuse to rent to. We are hard-working folks that make contributions to society every day.

My adult daughter, the
Lakers’ fan, focused her questions on the woman you dated. She asked about the remarks you
made to Stiviano, a multiracial (Black and Mexican) woman. She was confused
about how you could talk about blacks and minorities to the woman who is of the same ethnicity. You said she was not like “them” and spoke as if she shouldn’t
be offended by what you were saying because she is half black.

Your multiracial
girlfriend tried to explain to you that while you were talking about black
people, you were indeed talking about her as well. Sir, being multiracial doesn’t mean we take any less offense to those remarks. We don’t
get half mad or a quarter sad. We get wholly offended.

I
explained to my daughter that although our population continues to diversify
and the multiracial population continues to increase, we still have to continue
educating others. Despite the changing face of today’s American family, we need
to continue to fight stereotypes and bigotry.  Sure, it may not be the 1960’s when it was illegal to marry interracially but there is still work to be done.

Loving Day, one of the biggest multiracial celebrations in the U.S., is coming up in June. This day celebrates the important Supreme Court case of
Loving v. Virginia, which centered on the story of a real
couple, Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving of Caroline County, Virginia. They
fell in love and decided to get married. Unfortunately, getting married was not
as simple in 1958 as it is today. Mildred was black and Richard was white.
There were laws that forbade people of different races to marry each other.
This landmark case successfully helped strike down anti-miscegenation laws.

Believe me, I don’t always
have the answers when difficult situations arise. But I do know there are
resources that out there that can help, such as Multiracial
Americans of Southern California (MASC
),
a nonprofit organization that seeks to broaden self and public understanding of
our interracial, multiracial, and cross-cultural society by facilitating
interethnic dialogue. MASC creates activities and designs programs to serve the
community and increase awareness and understanding amongst the public about
multiracial/multiethnic issues. They shared that the multiracial population has
been increasing since 2000 when individuals were able to check off more than
one box. In that year, 6.8% did just that. By 2010, the number grew to 9
million.

Even media and businesses have taken notice.  Ad campaigns are taking on the subject diversity
in the U.S. National Geographic reported on
the changing face
of America’s families. Cheerios, Swiffer, Honey Maid Snacks and Coca-Cola are
just a few companies that are recognizing the “New Us”. Cheerios featured
biracial cutie and Mixed Up Clothing model, Grace. They have fully stood by its decision
to feature a multiracial family in the ad. Huffington Post quoted Camille
Gibson, vice president of marketing for Cheerios, saying that the company “felt like we were reflecting an American family.”

(A family like ours)

You offended a lot of people,
Mr.Sterling. Not just minorities. Our multiracial President said: “I don’t
think I have to interpret those statements for you – they kind of speak for
themselves,” he said “…When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance,
you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk.”

That’s not quite what
happened here. The more you talked, the more
I needed to talk to my children. My little ones wanted to know what they could do.
I told them to continue to enjoy learning about other cultures and sharing
about theirs. I told them to continue to celebrate diversity and hope that
others are willing to learn about them in order to accept one another.

Yes, this
is a long-term goal. In the short-term, they were watching closely to see how the NBA
dealt with you. They were also rooting for their Clippers to move forward in the playoffs, because they are proud to be Clippers fans and they know your views don’t reflect the spirit of their team. We are one, and we stand together and even your hateful words can’t break us apart.

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