Beating your Kids is Worse than being a Racist

Last week the world came to an end. No, Vladimir Putin’s tanks didn’t roll into Ukraine; instead, audio of octogenarian Clippers owner Donald Sterling making derogatory comments about minorities surfaced. This isn’t a first for Donald Sterling. Previously, he settled lawsuits alleging that he discriminated against Blacks and Latinos at his rental properties. The content of the tapes served as the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back, and the NBA decided he had to go.

Still,I think it’s useful to keep things in perspective. Far more serious than what he said on the tape, or what he allegedly said about Black and Latino tenants, are the allegations of child abuse. On Thursday, The New York Daily News published allegations that Donald Sterling brutally abused his late son Scott Sterling. The allegations come from family friends Phillip Scheid and Cheryl Bogart, (despite different last names Scheid and Bogart are half siblings of each other).The siblings recall Scott Sterling bearing the marks of frequent beatings with a leather belt; beatings delivered by Donald Sterling. The pair also recalls the younger Sterling hiding at their house from their abusive father, and on one occasion Donald Sterling dragging his son away by his hair.

Without delving too far into the particulars of his marriage, it seems likely that he undoubtedly caused far more pain and discomfort for his family than he ever did to any black person. He openly cheated on his wife, (in fairness, Rochelle Sterling may have given him tacit permission), and beat his son. By comparison, his racist beliefs did not prevent him from firing a white coach so he could hire a black coach, and pay the new coach millions of dollars a year. In over thirty years of team ownership, Sterling has likely paid multiple billions of dollars in salary to black athletes.

It’s easy to understand why African Americans would be outraged over Sterling’s remarks, and why Lebron James and Magic Johnson would want him gone. But these men need to keep things in perspective, multi-millionaire athletes were not Sterling’s greatest victims, his family was. Our society seems to lavish extravagant sympathy on people as members of groups, while showing remarkably little sympathy to people as individuals. The exclusive focus on allegations of racism, at the expense of attention to allegations of child abuse, reveals our societies’ misplaced priorities.