Everybody has something to say! Opinions are flaring as bright as the highest flame. There are stories writing themselves and there's nothing we can do about it. We're listening to conversations that were meant to be private, and losing our rights little by little. Judgment is passing judgment. An individual is tried not in a court of law, but in the trial of life. So, where does it all end?
Have you ever really stopped to consider the things you talk about in the privacy of your own home? Would you ever believe that your deepest darkest secrets would spring forth like a new born infant being welcomed into the world? If words are written on a blank page, does the author intend for others to read his thoughts? Hmm, that would depend. How does a person go about releasing his soul without allowing others to partake in his journey?
The fact of the matter is, you may have the best intentions to keep things to yourself, or if you become so filled, you decide to release your secrets to a friend or confidante, only to find out that person betrayed your confidences and sold them to the highest bidder willing to make a mockery of what you stand for.
Yep, you guessed it, I'm speaking about what everyone has been talking about--the Donald Sterling fiasco. When I first learned about his comments regarding my people, I must admit it enraged me to no end. Immediately I began thinking, "here we go again," but then I thought what has really changed? Racism is at an all-time high, not that there was ever a low point. I suppose as long as people roam this earth, racism will never die. What I do know is racism isn't something we're born with, it's a learned practice.
We all come from different backgrounds. What we're taught gravely impacts the person we will become. If you're around hatred day in and day out, nine times out of ten, that's exactly what you will be and pass on to your children, and they will pass it on to their children and so on and so forth. I was right there with the rest of the outraged world who thought what Mr. Sterling said was downright cruel, ignorant and mean. Not to mention the fact that the very people he was talking about, he employs several African-American men on his professional basketball team, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for them having to work for a man that shallow and awful.
But the more this story unfolded, the more my perception and opinion changed. The NBA banned him from being a part of his team in which HE owns. They fined him $2.5 million dollars, the amount the NBA's constitution allows, and they also stated that Sterling should sell his team.
That's when some bells started to alarm for me. Wait a minute, let me get this straight. Here this man was speaking with his side piece in a private conversation on the phone. A conversation he had no knowledge was being recorded. Sure, he said some rather ugly things, but the key is he was of the mindset that what he was saying to a confidante was purely between he and her. I've read the news articles, just like many of you. I listened to the sports talk radio stations, the same as many of you, and I was all aboard the train ready to roll over this racist man, until I really thought about how this all came about.
I'm a huge advocate of freedom of speech. I've written many blog posts about it in the past and I still feel the same way. Although what this man said was hurtful, he had every right to say it, and more importantly, he had every right to say what he said to his supposed confidante without worrying about it being repeated, let alone, recorded for the court of the world to hear, try and execute.
Who the hell are WE to tell Mr. Sterling he must sell his team? Racist or not, it's his damn team in which he paid for regardless how he made his money. I've heard about him being a slum lord and how he's treated minorities in the past, much the same way he still feels to this day, but that doesn't change the facts of this case. He was speaking from his soul, releasing what he was filled with to a person he thought he could trust. Was it his intention for the jury of the world to hear his ugly words? Of course not, but his words were given to us, and we had to deal with the evidence presented.
This is when I changed my opinion on the decision the NBA made. Especially, after I learned they knew for years how this man felt about minorities and had been accused of being a racist long before his words were brought forth to us. The NBA had to act because the story was snowballing so out of control, the avalanche was surely going to effect the NBA's bottom line, and at the end of the day, isn't it always about the money?! Here they had been knowing for years what kind of man Mr. Sterling was and, up to that point, had done absolutely nothing, but, by golly gee, he made the mistake of speaking his truths, and the story went viral. The NBA couldn't risk not taking action, could they? So in actuality, they had to act because otherwise, how would that look, right?!
So, think about it, people. Think of all the conversations you've had in the privacy of your own home. Are you seriously going to suggest to the jury of the world that you've never ever said things that would appear horrible to others? Are you seriously suggesting that you keep it very clean in the words you speak, privately? Now, think about those things you've said when you thought no one else would hear. If you talked negatively about your job or a coworker, your boss, etc., and the very thing you said gets told to them, should you lose your job? Should you be forced to sell your home because you always appeared to be a good neighbor, but now your neighbors know how you really feel about them? Put yourself in Sterling's shoes. Not a very comfortable fit, now is it?
Bottom line, we all have said things we shouldn't have said. We all feel a certain type of way about people (inside and outside of your very own race), but does that mean others get to tell you to sell your home, car or anything that you own? Should your job fire you because they feel your words sound racist and they don't want a person like that to represent them?
What Donald Sterling said was mean. His words were as racist as the sky is blue and the grass is green, but I can't be a true advocate of freedom of speech if I agreed with the NBA's decision. What Sterling said was wrong, in this juror's opinion, but he had every damn right to say it. He has the right to feel the way he does against my people. He has the right to continue to own his team, and he should not be made to pay one cent. Why, you ask? It's very simple, he spoke words he truly believed in, in the privacy of his own home unbeknownst to him of being recorded. It was never his intention for us to hear what he said, which is why it's called privacy. When something is private or confidential, it is only intended for the person that an individual chooses to be privy. Anything outside of that immediately dismisses privacy and confidential.
This case goes to prove a point I've been spouting for years. If you write it, please know, as sure as I'm writing these words to you, whether you intend for others to read it or not, there is a distinct possibility your words could be viewed by others. If you speak words, whether to yourself or to someone you think you can trust, please know your words have the potential to be heard by others, if someone decides to leak your secrets.
You can have the best of intentions, but once you involve someone else, or even when you are writing it down, there is always the possibility your thoughts can be discovered. If you don't want someone to read something you've written, don't write it down. If you do not want someone to reveal something you've told them, do not speak it. I know it sounds harsh, but that's the only defense a defendant has to protect himself from what Sterling is going through.
If you sit and think about what I've said, for those of you who disagree, go back and re-read my words again. Perhaps some truths will begin to sink in!
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer
Words can be Lethal, Be Careful!