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Pay to Play Along: the Shameful Saga of the NAACP and Donald Sterling
The rejoicing —of the handpicked by corporate— leaders of the African-American community over the $2.5 million fine handed down by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to Clipper owner Donald Sterling and his indefinite ban is part of a larger problem.
People with more money than Sterling banned him and fined him, so they can continue to make money on the NBA.
That $2.5 million dollars is blood money. It is red beads.
It is a larger version of why an organization such as the NAACP ended up in bed with a person like Sterling in the first place.
How did we get here?
The best and the brightest of African-American community have never had the privilege to be destroyed by madness; they have always been starved. The Civil Rights Act failed to fulfill the economic requirement and the void was ready to be filled by “New Blacks” who would do the work of their masters and get paid well to preempt the inevitable accusations of racial prejudice.
“Almost every game, there is a section where there are young people. He has also, in the years we looked at, contributed to a lot of minority charities, including the NAACP,” said Leon Jenkins, president of the L.A chapter of the NAACP in an April 28 article in the Los Angeles Daily News discussing Sterling.
Redevelopment began in the 1960s. It coincided with the Civil Rights Movement. Areas that were targeted for redevelopment were areas of “blight,” but many of the areas weren’t blighted. Areas like Inglewood a suburban city near Los Angeles in the 1960s wasn’t an area of blight, but it was an area that was quickly changing from white to black.
The Demonstration Cities Act of 1966 (called the Models Cities Program) inspired redevelopment.
Redevelopment was the beginning of the government handing off its responsibilities to its citizens to developers and corporate. This single act fundamentally changed how the government, activism and politics would work in the U.S.
“Private Initiative and Enterprise: The Program calls for encouragement of private initiative and enterprise of all kinds— the initiative and enterprise of individual homeowners, contractors, and builders to improve housing and environmental conditions; the involvement of business leaders and financial interests in carrying out the program, and the creation of an environment in which private enterprise can prosper in meeting the needs of the residents,” Demonstration Cities and Metropolitan Development Act of 1966.
Though the Model Cities Program ended in 1974 it provided a perfect model on how to make poverty profitable for corporations and developers.
Designating an area for redevelopment meant that the community no longer had the freedom to do with their community as they wished.
Redevelopment took money from an area’s school district as well as its county, state and city services. Propositions like 13 in California and 2 ½ in Massachusetts weren’t the only thing that killed schools. Redevelopment took away funding from areas designated as the “inner city” all over the US.
What redevelopment essentially did was take tax dollars that used to go to the upkeep of cities and school districts and placed it in the hands of developers.
Donald Sterling made his money as a real estate developer.
The developers were supposed to build nice things.
Nothing nice ever got built in African-American communities.
Redevelopment made the Civil Rights Movement toothless. It took away funds to run African-American communities and made poverty a money making endeavour —not for the poor, but for those “helping” the poor.
With city and county services being cut to give tax breaks (and tax credits) to corporate America and wealthy developers, those controlling the government realized they needed a stop gap. If the number of social workers are cut and funding for the schools is taken away there needs to be a cheap way to replace those people and services.
If government owned housing projects are closed down those also need to be replaced.
The rightwing always felt that government needed to be smaller and they made it smaller.
This is where nonprofits began to come into play. Nonprofits are fine to supplement supports already in place, but in the African-American community they are now the foundation of the community.
Foundation funded nonprofits are an underfunded clever way to outsource government services and defund them.
And who is going to say anything bad about a nonprofit that is just helping the kids and the underserved? Like who is going to say anything bad about the NBA now? They fined Sterling and banned him, so nothing else needs to be done, right?
Section 8 vouchers point are to privatize housing for the poor. Developers have learned how to profit from poverty. Developers have also realized that they can combine with a nonprofit (or church) and get the money to build low-income properties almost entirely paid for— by the community.
For example in Inglewood, California there is a project that was approved in 2011 called the Chandler Partners Regent Square development. It is a $42 million project funded with $13.9 million in housing set-aside funds, $4 million in HUD HOME, $20 million in tax exempt bonds and tax credit equity. That means the Chandler Partners built a private project with public money with no requirement after the project is done that it remain affordable or even a discussion prior to its approval if the surrounding community even wanted the project.
Foundation funded nonprofits have taken the place of working professionals. Instead of a nurse to give healthcare advice there is a poorly paid health community organizer. Foundation funded nonprofits have made jobs that at one point provided a somewhat comfortable middle class existence to professionals with agency and converted them to barely above minimum wage jobs with no health benefits and no retirement and no agency for those employed —to help people.
The poor are hired to help the poor, and they are paid poorly to do so.
And the corporate bought pseudo-liberal media has eaten it up.
“Isn’t it great that this nonprofit funded by billionaires through their foundations are paying people 8 bucks an hour? What a great opportunity for the urban community?! What a great opportunity for the urban children?!”
Foundation funded nonprofits have taken the politics out of communities. Your community giving a hundred dollars here or there won’t shut you up, but a foundation dropping you $10,000 here and $50,000 there just might shut you up.
Most nonprofits can not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of their activities. Most nonprofits cannot participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.
This is why organizations such as Community Coalition in Los Angeles are a poor substitute and are even harmful when they pretend to be a 1960 styles Civil Rights group. It is not. It can not be. JPMorgan Chase funds it and it would lose its nonprofit status and its funding if it ever stood up against real change.
If Dr. King had been an executive director of a nonprofit Black people would still be sitting at the back of the bus.
Foundation funded nonprofits are the cover to slowly release the U.S. government from its social contract with the people of the U.S. The most popular nonprofits are more often than not tools for rightwing market-driven individuals who own the “charitable” foundations that fund them.
Charity instead of real institutional change, because change would mean the leaders of industry would be making $10 million instead of $20 million.
Nonprofits are not a replacement for government and public supports. Nonprofits are not a replacement for activism.
The government’s job is to provide a strong social support for its people.
Activists jobs are to make change not to hang out at bars networking with the wealthy.
Nonprofits are a poor replacement for institutional change. Huge and established nonprofits like the NAACP and the Urban League have moved from fighting for the people to calming down the people. Donald Sterling, a known racist in Los Angeles, gets a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP’s L.A. chapter in 2009 after being sued for actively racially discriminating against tenants in an apartment building that he owned.
The Urban League is currently paid to do community outreach for the Los Angeles public transit agency the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA.) LACMTA has the distinction of having the most deadly rail line —the Blue Line —in the United States. The Blue Line goes through the heart of old African-American Los Angeles. Instead of fixing the public transit in the African-American community, LACMTA gives the Urban League a contract to have events in Baldwin Hills (a wealthy African-American neighborhood far away from the Blue Line) touting how great of a job LACMTA is doing for “the community.”
The quicker we can get rid of corporate foundation funded nonprofits that uphold poverty, inequality and racism, the quicker we can get to work creating businesses in our communities that pay people real wages and demand that the U.S. does its job the way the government does its job in the rest of developed world.
The U.S. government’s job is not to defend the market; its job is to defend its people.
And people who proclaim to the be the leaders of the African-American community need to remember that their job is not to defend and forgive people who insult, exploit and oppress us; their job is to defend us against economic oppression and racial violence.
NAACP works for corporate America, so there is really no need for them to get a penny of that $2.5 million. They no longer should be allowed to be the alter of where racists burn their sorry candles, because it’s pretty clear to me that the NAACP now stands for the National Association for the Advancement of Corporate People.