How Adam Silver’s response helped women and people of color.
Adam Silver is a white man. He is one of, if not, the most powerful man in the NBA depending on who you ask. During a time when he was a newbie at the helm of a powerful sports organization, he was faced with how to address one of the most explosive subjects in America: racism.
When faced with the Donald Sterling issue, Mr. Silver addressed the issue of racism brilliantly and with the courage and conviction of a decent human being. He fully used his power as a white man who was the NBA commissioner with legal expertise and a moral compass to begin to make right what has been wrong for so many decades.
Mr. Silver didn’t say, “No, this will not happen.” He demonstrated what “NO” looked like. He banned Mr. Sterling for life – which happens to be a pretty long time depending on who you ask. My TCW colleague and blogger Carrie Williams raised an excellent point as to why he wasn’t dealt with before. I tend to think this audio forced the issue that was already there. Mr. Sterling was also fined $2.5 million dollars; which is nothing since he’s worth over a cool billion; it was more of a formality.
When you are dealing with wealthy people, not rich, as there is a big difference, fining them doesn’t affect them – EXCLUSION DOES.
In my opinion, the exclusion, even at 80 years old, hit home for Mr. Sterling though not in the same way it probably did with his peers. On the other hand he could care less about the fine. The message that Mr Silver was sending wasn’t to the Sterling but to the culture that Mr. Sterling referenced in the audio. Mr. Silver basically said, “You’re money no longer buys you access or makes you as powerful as you used to be.” Mouths drop at the press conference.
While Mr. Silver may not have eradicated racism and prejudice with a single blow, he definitely landed knock out punch. It’s up to us now to keep moving advancing equality in the workplace and within our communities to ensure racism gets counted out.
How does Mr. Silver’s response help women? Easy, he set precedence for others in similar positions to do what they know is right – sooner. It’s hard to be the first because we are unsure if we will survive the backlash. However, once it’s been done successfully replicating it becomes easier.
I suspect we will see more issues regarding racism and prejudice with women and people of color be addressed more and publicly. Ideally over time, there should be fewer matters to litigate and address and if needed, done so with less denial than before.
The fact that Mr. Silver is a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School is impressive. It indicates that he has been trained to use sound legal reasoning to support decisions that reflect fairness in law – at least one would hope. In full disclosure, I am an alumnus and tend to be a bit biased.
I hope that Mr. Silver continues to raise the bar for all of us and demonstrate through his actions how everyone can use their privilege to help fight racism, discrimination, and prejudice whenever it crosses our path. We all have power and a voice and should not be afraid to use it. Have you used your voice to stand up for justice? If so, do tell in the comments below!
With love and light…pleasant journeys.