The recent alleged remarks made by Donald Sterling, if true, are reprehensible and unacceptable in our society. We have made great strides forward to silence hateful words, but we obviously still have far to travel and much to learn. Our world continues to be plagued by discriminatory language, harmful judgments and damaging stereotypes against individuals and groups based on race, color, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, age and disability.
It is extremely hurtful to most of us in society to see individuals mistreated, disrespected or devalued. People are people, and there is no place in our world for intolerance and poisonous racial attitudes.
The NBA needs to demonstrate it will not tolerate such sentiments by anyone involved in its league. Donald Sterling will likely undergo serious pressure to give up his ownership interest of the Los Angeles Clippers. The NBA, however, must not stop there, as it must take more seriously its role in society as an example to its fans.
Accordingly, it must work diligently to involve its franchise owners, front office personnel, players and its fans in training, education and awareness programs that address the harmful effects of discriminatory language and sentiments, address the origins of such damaging attitudes, and provide solutions and training so that the poisonous sentiments are replaced with the embrace of diversity and tolerance. The NBA must also use more resources to establish its venues as places where negative sentiments are not acceptable.
Organizations such as the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and others have certain obligations and responsibilities to society. These organizations, their many franchises, and their many superstars are admired, respected and emulated by millions, especially children, who are impressionable and still learning right from wrong. The fans must see these extremely powerful organizations and individuals as protectors of human dignity, values, morals and decency. These leagues have to demonstrate that they embrace cultural and racial diversity and that they teach and promote human dignity and mutual respect for all people.
I invite the NBA, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the rest of the franchises within the NBA, to create Discrimination Free Zones throughout the league. The Discrimination Free Zone Foundation pledges to work diligently to assist the league, the teams and their athletes, in implementing important policies and systems and in the promotion of the critical message as they demonstrate to the public their commitment to human dignity, respect and tolerance for all people.
I founded The Discrimination Free Zone Foundation, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit aimed at eliminating derogatory language and the harm those words cause, precisely because I could no longer witness situations similar to the present circumstances involving Mr. Sterling without doing everything I can to make a difference and inspire change.
The foundation focuses on schools, companies and community groups to promote the use of language free of slurs and negative stereotypes, by recruiting and engaging supporters and advocates to create Discrimination Free Zones.
Zones are easy to create, and can be formed by individuals, corporations or groups marking a safe and discrimination free space -- whether on their person or their surroundings. Discrimination Free Zones are identified with branded wristbands, shirts, hats, stickers, posters, and other items that are available to be purchased via donations.
Before wearing or displaying any of these items, supporters pledge not to use discriminatory language based on race, color, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, age or disability. Individuals wearing or displaying the Discrimination Free Zone items are clearly but tactfully informing others that they’ll be offended by discriminatory comments and will not participate in conversations containing such damaging remarks.
Companies, individuals and groups can show their commitment to ending discriminatory language by using the hashtag, #dfreezone, and posting pictures of their zones to websites and social media platforms. Through the Discrimination Free Zone website, social media, educational and community outreach programs, the Foundation aims to shed light on the practice of prejudgment and end discriminatory language against individuals and groups based on race, color, gender, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, age or disability.
We must do everything we can to ensure that our world is rid of these negative attitudes toward any members of society. We need to strive toward a society that sees only one race -- the human race -- and is color blind concerning the color of anyone's skin. Our mission as a society needs to be to silence discriminatory language and, instead, to foster an environment that consists of unity, equality and acceptance for everyone.