Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

LZ: The hypocrisy of L.A. NAACP

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Wed April 30, 2014
The NBA's<a href='http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/29/us/clippers-sterling-scandal/index.html' target='_blank'> suspension and $2.5-million fine for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling</a> sent shockwaves through the sports world, but it's not the first time a league has cracked down on a team owner. The NBA's suspension and $2.5-million fine for Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling sent shockwaves through the sports world, but it's not the first time a league has cracked down on a team owner.
HIDE CAPTION
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
Team owners behaving badly
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ: It's hypocrisy for NAACP to join groups in calling out NBA's former tolerance of Sterling
  • Group's L.A. chapter accepted money from him, was set to honor him for second time
  • LZ: Abiding Sterling's racism isn't selling out, it's giving integrity away
  • LZ: NAACP can't point finger at NBA for tolerating Sterling; it must get own house in order

Editor's note: LZ Granderson is a CNN contributor, a senior writer for ESPN and lecturer at Northwestern University. Commentary by the former Hechinger Institute fellow has been recognized by the Online News Association, the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association. Follow him on Twitter @locs_n_laughs. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- The NAACP needs to sit down.

Though it's debatable how effective a punishment Donald Sterling's lifetime ban from the NBA will be -- considering that for the time being, he still owns and thus profits from the L.A. Clippers -- the one voice that should not be involved in this discussion is that of the NAACP. Not after news that the Los Angeles chapter was prepared to bestow upon the disgraced Sterling -- whose racist behavior has long been known -- a second lifetime achievement award next month. (The offer, not surprisingly, has been withdrawn.)

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

On Tuesday, after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver brought down punishment on Sterling, the NAACP added its voice to a joint statement with the National Urban League, the National Action Network and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation that said "Sterling's long-established pattern of bigotry and racist comments have not been a secret in the NBA ... yet until now, they have been tolerated and met with a gentle hand and a blind eye."

Say what?

Tax records accessed on CitizenAudit.org, according to an article in the Huffington Post, revealed that the NAACP's L.A. branch had been party to the sanitizing of Sterling's legacy. How? The group has received $45,000 from Sterling's foundations, which, given the real-estate mogul's net worth of nearly $2 billion, is peanuts.

The phrase "sell out" is one that gets tossed around, but for some reason, it doesn't quite cover the NAACP's L.A. chapter in this case.

The first time Sterling was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the group was in the midst of a lawsuit for housing discrimination based upon race. To decide to honor him with the award a second time, after he had paid millions to settle multiple discrimination suits, after learning that he allegedly said that "all the blacks in this building, they smell, they're not clean" and "Mexicans ... just sit around and smoke and drink all day ... so we have to get them out of here," is not selling out.

Selling out makes financial sense.

No, considering what $45,000 means to a man of Sterling's wealth, honoring him with awards is just giving integrity away. I understand that Sterling has donated to other black groups and established a scholarships for black students at UCLA. And while that's a positive, I also understand that such donations are tax-deductible and do not require him to actually be around black people. Something, according to the now-infamous recordings, he is not a big fan of. At least not at his games.

Ex-player: No room in sport for bigotry
NBA reacts to Sterling's lifetime ban
What happens to the Clippers now?

The NAACP's willful blind spot is particularly disturbing when you consider the growing wealth gap between blacks and whites in this country and that the biggest factors in that gap are fair housing and education. How could an organization supposedly dedicated to the economic advancement of blacks honor someone the Department of Justice said was working against its mission?

This curiosity is very similar to the New York chapter of the NAACP joining a lawsuit with the United Federation of Teachers in 2011 in an effort to squeeze out successful charter schools and protect failing traditional public schools. Thousands of parents, many of them minorities, protested.

As was the case with the L.A. chapter, money reportedly was a factor in the New York chapter's allegiance.

It's fine for the national organization to characterize questionable decision-making by local chapters as anomalies, but it's hard to view the goings-on in New York and Los Angeles, the two largest cities in the country, as just being local.

No, instead of worrying about joining in the censure of Sterling, the NAACP -- which is currently searching for a new executive director -- should worry about itself. When the NAACP held a funeral for the N-word in 2007, it felt as if the organization had buried its relevance beside it. It didn't help that the person helping lead the ceremony was former Detroit Mayor/felon Kwame Kilpatrick.

Yeah.

In light of the crippling socioeconomic impact that housing discrimination has had on minorities in general and Los Angeles in particular, for chapter President Leon Jenkins to say "God teaches us to forgive" in the same interview Monday in which he said "we are negotiating with him about giving more moneys to African-American students at UCLA," it sounds to me the NAACP needs to take that finger it's wagging at Silver and the NBA and point it back at themselves.

Silver's working to clean up his house, but the NAACP still looks dirty.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
The idea is difficult to stomach, but John Sutter writes that eating dog is morally equivalent to eating pig, another intelligent animal. If Americans oppose it, they should question their own eating habits as well.
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Bill van Esveld says under the laws of war, civilians who do not join in the fight are always to be protected. An International Criminal Court could rule on whether Israeli airstrikes and Hamas rocketing are war crimes.
updated 8:05 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
LZ Granderson says Ronald Reagan went horseback riding and took a vacation after the Korean Air Crash of 1983. So why does the GOP keep airbrushing history to bash Obama?
updated 9:38 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Aaron Miller says Kerry needs the cooperation of Hamas, Israel, Egypt and others if he is to succeed in his peacemaking efforts
updated 8:51 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Errol Louis says the tragic death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD has its roots in the "broken windows" police strategy from the crime-ridden '80s.
updated 10:08 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Gordon Brown says the kidnapped Nigerian girls have been in captivity for 100 days, but the world has not forgotten them.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Texas Gov. Rick Perry is right to immediately send 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to the border children crisis.
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Ukraine's president says the downing of MH17 was a terrorist act, but Richard Barrett says it would be considered terrorism only if it was intentional
updated 4:15 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Robert McIntyre says the loophole that lets firms avoid taxes should be closed
updated 11:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Jeronimo Saldana and Malik Burnett say Gov. Perry's plan to send National Guard to the border won't solve the escalating immigration problem.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Sally Kohn: The world's fish and waters are polluted and under threat. Be very careful what fish you eat
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Les Abend says threat information that pilots respond to is only as good as the intelligence from air traffic controllers. And none of it is a match for a radar-guided missile
updated 8:35 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Frida Ghitis: Anger over MH17 is growing against pro-Russia separatists. It's time for the Dutch government to lead, she writes
updated 8:27 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Julian Zelizer says President Obama called inequality the "defining challenge" of our time but hasn't followed through.
updated 7:57 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Gene Seymour says the 'Rockford Files' actor worked the persona of the principled coward, charming audiences on big and small screen for generations
updated 10:17 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Daniel Treisman says that when the Russian leader tied his fate to the Ukraine separatists, he set the stage for his current risky predicament
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Andrew Kuchins says urgent diplomacy -- not sanctions -- is needed to de-escalate the conflict in Ukraine that helped lead to the downing of an airliner there.
updated 9:50 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Jim Hall and Peter Goelz say there should be an immediate and thorough investigation into what happened to MH17.
updated 11:07 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Pilot Bill Palmer says main defense commercial jets have against missiles is to avoid flying over conflict areas.
updated 1:55 PM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Valerie Jarrett says that working women should not be discriminated against because they are pregnant.
updated 3:53 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
David Wheeler says the next time you get a difficult customer representative, think about recording the call.
updated 3:33 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich says the more dangerous the world becomes the more Obama hides in a fantasy world.
updated 6:11 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Michael Desch: It's hard to see why anyone, including Russia and its local allies, would have intentionally targeted the Malaysian Airlines flight
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must remember our visceral horror at the news of children killed in an airstrike on a Gaza beach next time our politicians talk of war
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Sally Kohn says now the House GOP wants to sue Obama for not implementing a law fast enough, a law they voted down 50 times, all reason has left the room.
updated 8:14 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A street sign for Wall Street
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, John McCain and others want to scale back the "too big to fail" banks that put us at risk of another financial collapse.
updated 4:16 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Newt Gingrich writes an open letter to Robert McDonald, the nominee to head the Veterans Administration.
updated 12:01 PM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Paul Begala says Dick Cheney has caused an inordinate amount of damage yet continues in a relentless effort to revise the history of his failures.
updated 10:04 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Kids who takes cell phones to bed are not sleeping, says Mel Robbins. Make them park their phones with the parents at night.
updated 1:29 PM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Buzz Aldrin looked at planet Earth as he stood on talcum-like lunar dust 45 years ago. He thinks the next frontier should be Mars.
updated 2:04 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Mark Zeller never thought my Afghan translator would save his life by killing two Taliban fighters who were about to kill him. The Taliban retaliated by placing him on the top of its kill list.
updated 11:18 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
Jeff Yang says an all-white cast of Asian characters in cartoonish costumes is racially offensive.
updated 9:24 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Gary Ginsberg says the late John F. Kennedy Jr.'s reaction to an event in 1995 summed up his character
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Wed July 16, 2014
Meg Urry says most falling space debris lands on the planet harmlessly and with no witnesses.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT