NOTE FROM JEFF MOROSOFF: Each semester, my public relations students in Hofstra University’s Honors College are required to contribute posts to my blog. The following guest post was written by sophomore Nyala Stagger:
Last weekend, the world of professional basketball was rocked by the release of a recorded conversation allegedly between Clippers owner Donald Sterling and his girlfriend, known as V. Stiviano. As discussed in Professor Morosoff’s article, “No Room for PRejudice,” the NBA was pressured to issue a punishment to Sterling, not only in the name of civil rights, but also to maintain their public image.
What has now risen to prominence in the media regarding this situation is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), particularly its Los Angeles branch, for having previously given Sterling an award for his financial contributions to the organization and for intending to give him an award the same week that his recording was released. Since then, the president of the Los Angeles branch has left his position. But many people in the black community still want to know why is it a man who has a known history of racist comments would even be allowed to, nonetheless honored for, contributing to the NAACP.
In a public statement, NAACP Board of Directors chairwoman Roslyn Brock stated, “Because of Sterling’s large donations to local charities, including the NAACP, [the L.A. branch] overlooked his worse than checkered history on race issues and gave him a lifetime achievement award in 2009 — and were about to honor him with a humanitarian award before his racist recording surfaced. The National NAACP and all of our affiliates must be more discerning in our awarding of honors, which should be for true achievements in advancing racial equality.” She continues, “While the NAACP is grateful for corporate and philanthropic donations in addition to membership dues, we have always reserved the right to criticize the actions of our donors when we disagree with them — and to dissociate ourselves from them totally when they express the kind of egregious racism that Donald Sterling has.”
As an African American and a member of a college chapter of the NAACP, it angers me that no one thought to disregard Sterling’s monetary contributions and look at his actions. There has now been a lot of public backlash at the NAACP from celebrities and members alike. The directors and branch affiliates not only need to improve the organization’s image with the public, but also with its own members who are now questioning how many times a known racist has been honored for their financial contributions while continuing to belittle the race that they are “helping.”
What are your thoughts? If you were a director within the NAACP what would you do? How would you handle this situation as a PR professional?