PRessure on the NAACP

Nyala Stagger

Nyala Stagger

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?

2 thoughts on “PRessure on the NAACP

  1. kimberlymuoio

    I think a lot of times money is the main focus even in such intimate and serious situations as an honor from the NAACP. Sterling has a horrible record of not being the more “race friendly” person. Unfortunately, in society today if you have money it seems to cover up the type of person you are. In my opinion, he should have never received any awards in the first place. Donating money to an organization is very generous, but what you don’t agree or support what the organization is standing for than what is the point? I support the NAACP in now not presenting him with the planned award.

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  2. Shayla Ridore

    Personally, I am also confused why they would have given this man an award for his contributions despite previous racist comments as well. I believe accepting his donations and actually awarding him with something are two quite different aspects of the issue and perhaps neither should have been done. At this point I am glad they are not going to give him the new award they planed to, but as for the old award, some sort of note needs to be made on the records of who has won the award that he was perhaps not the most deserving. Like for example how they mark people in the baseball hall of fame who were found to be on steroids; acknowledge that they won it, but make it clear that it was perhaps not warranted.

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