Alva James-Johnson: Deeds done in the dark come to light

ajjohnson@ledger-enquirer.comMay 1, 2014 

Alva James-Johnson

So, we all know who Donald Sterling is by now. He's the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers and, apparently, a philanderer who thought he was living before the Emancipation Proclamation.

How do we know this? Because of his own words, taped and now played ad nauseam in the media. What he allegedly uttered in private is now linked to his public persona, and there's no getting around it.

We've been here before with Paula Deen, Mitt Romney, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson, Anthony Weiner and countless others who said or did something in private that eventually sparked a media firestorm. Once the gaffes or misdeeds surface, public figures scramble for cover or apologize profusely. But, by then, it's too late, character flaws exposed.

Sterling's alleged statements were particularly shocking.

In the audio recording, he allegedly chastised his girlfriend for hanging out with minorities and told her not to bring them to games. He expressed specific disgust for her association with former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Magic Johnson. And when she challenged such twisted views, Sterling reminded her of all the things he does for the black players, like giving them clothes, food, cars and houses.

It's mind-boggling that he could be so blatantly racist considering his team is predominantly black. But old habits die hard, and racism is apparently alive and well in America.

On Tuesday, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from NBA games for life and slapped him with a $2.5 million fine, which, he says, will be donated to organizations dedicated to anti-discrimination and tolerance.

There's much debate about whether Sterling should receive such severe punishment. His words weren't meant for the general public, some argue, and he has a right to privacy.

I see their point. But I'm also familiar with the Bible verse that says, "He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart."

The verse, obviously, refers to God. But he's not the only one watching. Today, we're so surrounded by security cameras, social media, smart phones, iPads and other taping devices. We never know who's recording what we do and say.

Maybe it's time that we make character a priority again, aligning our private lives with what we do in public.

Sterling, obviously, had a history of racist behavior. But his precipitous fall from invincible owner to NBA outcast should be a reminder: What we do matters -- even in the dark.

Alva James-Johnson, reporter, ajjohnson@ledger-enquirer.com.

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