The Donald Sterling affair is an excellent example of how race gets dealt with in the US.
Sterling is the owner of the LA Clippers, a basketball team in the NBA with a black coach and mostly black players, who was recently recorded saying he doesn't want his mistress - or someone he wanted to be his mistress - hanging out with black people. He was fined and banned from the NBA in a rather surprising turn of events, and its likely he'll lose the team. Prior to the recording being made public Sterling was famous for (a) maintaining a very public image as a sugar daddy and (b) making his money as a slum lord in downtown LA, who was convicted of discriminating against Hispanic and African-American renters after another, earlier recording detailed his antediluvian attitudes.
You may have heard about it; it was in all the papers.
But now Sterling has been interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN and Sterling's wife has weighed in. She thinks the Clippers should stay in the family - perhaps her argument is something along the lines of "sure I've been married to a racist philanderer for decades, but that doesn't mean I have those opinions." He also apparently has some form of cancer, and declaimed his comments about black people, saying only that he was trying to get his future former mistress (whom his wife is suing) into bed, apparently by trying to ensure she didn't hang around with black people.
And so the sentimental second-chance machine cranks into action. Magic Johnson is asked whether Sterling's somewhat-apology-and-possible-impending-cancer means we should forgive the old white guy his admitted lust-induced moment of weakness. Also why should we punish the wife of a man who's been a racist philanderer for forty years, given she's the strong matriarch of a, uh, very wealthy family run by a racist philanderer? Can you stand in the way of a strong rich white woman? Isn't that sexism?
Because if Magic thinks Sterling can be forgiven, then I guess all the other black people in America should too. After all, Sterling was only referring to Magic in his rant to Stiviano because he was afraid she'd think Magic was more attractive than him, so it wasn't like he was demonstrating racism against all black people, just Magic's blackness. On Howard Stern this morning they played a tape of one of Sterling's former employees, the former General Manager of the Clippers, relating how Sterling treated the Clippers locker room as a plantation; he's contrite though, now that he's discovered being an evil billionaire or multimillionaire doesn't inoculate you from charges of racism.
So now the question in front of us is: Why do black people want to be mean to a contrite former racist who may or may not have cancer, and his cheated-on wife of 40 years? Can't the white racist catch a break in modern America? Hasn't he suffered enough, being tried in the court of public opinion like that?
I would suggest the answer is No, no he hasn't suffered enough being tried in the court of public opinion.