On Tuesday, April 29th, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was banned for life and fined $2.5 million dollars for comments he made concerning a picture of his girlfriend and Magic Johnson. Apparently the suspension and fine were needed to help “make things right” according to Andrew Silver, the new commissioner of the National Basketball Association.
Over that last 11 years via Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free! presentations – presentations where I ask, “Why do intelligent people STILL choose to categorize themselves into poorly defined “racial” groups – I have talked with various groups around the country about the continued manipulation of information by American mass media outlets and marketing agencies. My position has always been that the only reason any of this talk about racists and racism, etc. continues to dominate headlines is because certain people and organizations make more money with stories of hints of racism, than stories without racism angles. Even though there is nothing scientific, religious, or legal that supports the idea that people are divided into these “racial” groups, we still have to get subjected to nationwide blitzes of stories that only help cause further division.
This will be a little long, but as we go along, try to remember that because we have so many outlets for information today, ALL media companies are always looking for content – especially content that people will react to – for their articles, features, etc. Advertisers pay a lot of money to have their products & services shown on the channels that produce the greatest amount of return for their media purchases. Marketing 101.
In my opinion, the NBA and pretty much all major sports, have become less about the actual playing of the sport, and more about the selling of the sport and making the games more attractive to casual viewers, thereby making the product more attractive to potential advertisers. To be even more specific, they are looking to attract more advertisers in the consumer packed goods or consumer services sector. This is also Marketing 101 and not “wrong” or anything, just good business the way the game is played today. (Just watch any game and what commercials do you see? There are really only 3 types of commercials that come on during a sporting event: 1) Company A is trying to sell you something to eat. 2) Company B is trying to get you to sign up for their service. 3) NBA public service announcements where they tell you how great and involved the NBA is in your community. The NBA is your friend!)
Another topic I talk about in my OAP presentations is coalition building. Basically, I like to point out to my audiences that people have always made agreements and coalitions with other people throughout history. All people – and corporations for that matter – only make agreements and coalitions with other companies and people because they both hope to profit from the alliance.
Stopping short of calling it some sort of an alliance because I certainly don’t know all the details, I’m suggesting that the NBA, Donald Sterling, TV stations, Marketing Agencies, NAACP and other organizations, all have an angle on making more money and/or better positioning themselves as leaders in the ‘”bringing people together” movement, while not really solving or bringing adequate resources to help reduce any social conditions whatsoever. Yes, we get a lot of marketing campaigns and press conference announcements out of these type of stories, but very little actual results.
So, in my opinion, the Donald Sterling’s “racist” comments story line dominating EVERYTHING on TV, is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Everyone makes more money by keeping racism in the news. First, by dividing people into arbitrary and completely unsupportable “racial” categories – which has run it’s course for now – then by creating false scenarios whereby organizations or products “magically” bring those same arbitrary and poorly defined “groups” back together again.
Now, let’s look at the components of the story and add just a little internet background research on the organizations and people involved:
1) Donald Sterling has purchased thousands of apartments primarily in Los Angeles over the past several decades. He also owns properties in Orange County, San Diego and Las Vegas and advertises heavily in the L.A. Times. Sterling bought the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team in 1981 for $12 million; Forbes now values the team at $430 million. Mr. Sterling’s net worth is estimated at $1.9 Billion. (http://www.forbes.com/profile/donald-sterling) (He is also a lawyer)
2) Adam Silver, is an American lawyer and the commissioner of the National Basketball Association. He has held this post since February 1, 2014.On October 25, 2012, he was endorsed by David Stern to be the next NBA Commissioner when Stern announced that he would step down as of February 1, 2014. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Silver)
So already we have two lawyers involved in this big drama. two people who completely understand the value of words and their meanings and potential consequences, etc. (A little odd to me, but let’s continue.)
3) Once a struggling also-ran to other professional sports, the National Basketball Association is now a global money machine, thanks in large part to Stern’s leadership on labor relations, drug testing, team expansion and other issues. NBA revenues, which were $118 million for the 1982-83 season, hit $4.6 billion for the league’s 30 teams last year. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2014/01/22/as-stern-says-goodbye-knicks-lakers-set-records-as-nbas-most-valuable-teams)
4) U.S. agency revenue — covering all forms of marketing communications, including advertising, media, digital, marketing services, health care and public relations — totaled $35.6 billion in 2012. (http://adage.com/article/agency-news/digital-media-drive-u-s-agency-revenue/241114)
Total retail sales reached $1.1 trillion in 2012: $568 billion at grocery stores and $530 billion at food service and drinking establishments. (http://www.pwc.com/us/en/press-releases/2013/consumer-packaged-goods-companies.jhtml)
Secretly Recorded Telephone Call
Admittedly, I haven’t followed this story minute by minute, nor do I plan on it, but I have heard segments of information while flipping through channels. To help round out my knowledge of what was said, I clicked on this link: Transcripts of the tape: http://deadspin.com/exclusive-the-extended-donald-sterling-tape-1568291249
So it appears that the secretly recorded telephone conversation is between Donald Sterling & his then girlfriend. (I also read where there they are now broken up and there has been some litigation between them.)
So that no one tries to misconstrue my comments so they appear to be in support of what Donald Sterling said, from what I read, his comments are poorly supported and he could do with some classes on world history. I didn’t really pick up on anything as being mean, just misinformed. But in my opinion, a lot of people have that problem!
I’m not really hearing anything that appears to be criminal, or said with malicious intent, or where it has damaged anyone’s property but his own. He didn’t say he was making these comments on behalf of the LA Clipper organization. I’m not even sure any laws were broken. (Except possibly the illegal recording of a telephone call! California operates under the “two-party” consent law. (http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/california-recording-law) A guy talking to his girlfriend about what he thinks in a secretly recorded conversation is pretty much a non-story…that is until the media gets a hold of it.
A media that NEEDS these stories so they can interject what they think and what they feel into the story so they can appear to be relevant to consumers AND attract more marketing dollars! I would also add an NBA that also NEEDS these kind of stories so they can appear to be relevant and on top of handling any cases of racism, or even cases of perceived racism for the American consumer. (Note: They use the word American when they are trying to show how united and one we all are. However, they use the arbitrary and undefined “racial” categories when they are trying to show how “diverse” they are. EX Eric Spolestra is the first Asian-American head coach in the NBA. (He was born in Evanston, IL)
So, this earth shattering story is released to the media on Saturday, and by Tuesday it has been played and replayed so much that Donald Sterling – a lawyer and the owner of the LA Clippers – is banned for life from the NBA and has to pay a $2.5 million dollar fine! All without the NBA owners even having a meeting! (4 days! That’s a pretty quick arraignment, trial and sentencing! How come people who have broken real laws and killed real people can’t get that kind of justice?) (Quick calculation shows that the fine is 0.013157% of Sterling’s estimated net worth)
Again, I’m not saying anyone was in agreement with anyone else, just showing they stand to profit or get better positioning from blasting this story all over the news. Although, it is kind of convenient that EVERY station chose to run with it and it’s tidy that they can come to some resolution in 4 days. (If race & racism issues are this easy to handle, the NBA should get out of the basketball business entirely and focus on other issues.)
The NAACP, which was set to honor Donald Sterling as it’s Man of The Year, was so upset, even before proving that he is the guy on the tape, that they canceled his dinner. (But, they haven’t said yet when or if they plan on giving back any of his “racist” tainted money.)
In my limited involvement with the story I have heard a lot of celebrities and talking heads come out to denounce what Donald Sterling allegedly said in the tapes. And again, don’t get it twisted I am not in support of what he said. Any rational person would not be in agreement with the comments attributed to him. And that is EXACTLY where the NBA and the TV stations and the marketing types want you to be! Against race and racism, even though if you know anything about marketing or have spent anytime in an ad agency you will certainly know how just about everything that is bought and sold in this country is broken up into “racial” categories! Don’t believe it? Try talking to a marketing company about selling your new product. The very first question will be “What is the demographic info for your projected market?” BET is a “Black” channel for distribution of thoughts, ideas, and images to that audience. Univision is a “Hispanic” channel for distribution of thoughts, ideas, and images to that audience. Logo is a “Gay” channel for distribution of thoughts, ideas, and images to that audience, and on and on.
What has been accomplished?
Of course this is only my opinion, but in six months to a year from now you will be able to clearly see what the purpose of this non-story dominating the news headlines was all about. Adam Silver will have been established as the new powerful commissioner of the NBA. He will have also accomplished the main goal of why he was hired for the position in the first place, and that is to grow the revenues of the NBA. (I guess the NBA also gets to keep or decide what happens to the $2.5 million dollars as well!) Donald Sterling will still be a billionaire, probably even more so, after the sale of the Clippers to an ownership group made up of people, hand-picked by the NBA, that represents every still outdated and arbitrarily defined “racial” group. The every day marginal fan will love the NBA and buy the apparel even more so because they will feel that “our friend” the good ole NBA has done so much by correcting a “wrong” in our still evil society. The market will be flooded with more “diversity” programs that will seek to build communication bridges across great “racial” divides. And people will still go to bed hungry in the poorer neighborhoods around the country. So, nothing structurally will have changed, but everyone will feel better about themselves, until the next story is thrust upon us!
Michael James Brown is the writer /producer of ‘Other Awareness Project – 95% Guilt & Anger Free!‘ A now 11 year project that looks at why intelligent people – using current information – still call themselves arbitrary and poorly defined “racial” categories. Categories that are not supported by science, religion, or any legal systems. Categories that a person’s ancestors NEVER called themselves! Are we solving any problems – real or perceived – by continuing this dialogue along these lines? Previous career titles include: Marketing Operations Manager, Creative Services Manager, Director of Operations. In his spare time, Michael rides his motorcycle around to real cities, having real conversations with real people. He is already aware that the OAP presentations and topics do not fit the expected mold and therefore he will never be invited to speak on any national media shows! 🙂 (http://www.otherawarenessproject.com) (http://facebook.com/otherawarenessproject)
Over the last 7 years I have received many emails from the more than 250,000 people who have visited the Other Awareness Project website. (http://www.otherawarenessproject.com) I have responded to every letter. Between my two groups on facebook there are more than 1200 “fans” of the project. Some people become fans or understand the project right away, others take as long as 2-3 months. Below is an example of the typical exchange of emails that it takes to get people to focus on the questions I’m asking, rather than continue to regurgitate all the wrong information or wrong deeds that anyone has done in the past. I’m still waiting for his response.
Comment to otherawarenessproject.com July 9, 2010 9:31:08 PM
Comments: Hey, am I missing something? I’m reading that there’s no such thing as race, but at the same time someone’s saying they’re “biracial“, etc. And the lengthy discussion of the Mexica, isn’t that all about race? Or is that discussion not being condoned here? And the discussion of reparations to African Americans, is that being denounced, since it’s about a race? Last, I recently saw one of the forensic file shows on tv, and they found out from the DNA that the killer was white, blond hair, blue eyed, which proved to be true. Isn’t this a racial thing?
Let me mention I’m all for getting the government out of our lives, I think that’s what this country is all about, but are we throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Please accept my apology in advance if there’s a simple answer to all this.
MJB response #1 July 26, 2010 8:21:14 PM
Thanks for your comments! Sorry for the delay in responding, have been busy scheduling events, etc. I noticed you are in Orange, CA and I’m going to be showing footage and discussing the Other Awareness Project at The MUZEO Museum on August, 8th at 3PM
There is a much simpler answer to all of this ongoing “racial” talk. Real quickly, when people call themselves “bi-racial“, I’m asking what are they still basing that on? I’m not sure what you call yourself when asked what “race” you are, but my project looks at how do you still justify your choice with current information? Some people mention incorrect stuff from the Bible, some people mention old scientific stuff that has been proven false many years ago, other people mention old laws or what people used to think.
My project is about self-identification. If you have friends from other “races”, have been through a couple of diversity programs, why are you still calling yourself any of these arbitrary and completely made up “racial” names? Here is a hint, look at your driver’s license. How come your “racial” information doesn’t appear on there?
Overall, I’m asking people to reevaluate why they still use these names to try and solve problems, and is it working. But, more importantly than talking about what everyone has done wrong, do we need these names/categories to solve problems going forward. If you haven’t done so already, please download my complete media kit and hopefully I’ll see you in Anaheim on August 8th!
Download Complete Media Kit (with letters from Barack Obama, Vernon Jordan, Clarence Thomas and others):
Paul’s response #1 July 27, 2010 1:05:55 PM PDT
Good to hear from you. I saw you the year before last in Long Beach.
I was still curious though, because you and I had a bit of discussion on the dna idea, that there was no biological basis for race (hopefully I’m remembering right) but again, on a recent crime documentary, they determined from dna all about the guy, so wouldn’t it at least be fair to say that there is actually a biological basis to race?
And, I was very curious about a handful of links on your site, in which people elaborated A LOT about race this and that, naming specific ones and what “they” need to do, what they did, etc, so I’m confused about your stance on that (are you endorsing those or critiquing them….?)
I mentioned the Bible thing I saw online, because I was intrigued that it seemed to describe what you were saying. In any case it did not say God created races but that people morph naturally given their environment, something like that. (I’d still wonder if it wouldn’t make sense though, that enough morphs create a “race”) Also saw an extremely interesting documentary from a guy who researched what he deduces is the path of humankind, starting somewhere like north africa, migrating all over, and says the europeans became that way over time, others migrated way east, and then through the americas, so the native americans are “cousins” of the asians. You may have heard all this before, but I find it interesting. It helps to realize or see this kind of thing and see all the commonality.
Dare I inject a touchy thought–the left is way too focused on race and it drives me crazy.
Hope to hear your feedback…..
MJB response #2 July 27, 2010 5:21:13 PM PDT
I’ll go in order:
#1) From many current scientific viewpoints there isn’t any basis for people self-identifying themselves into any of the commonly accepted “racial groups.” Period. I can’t argue about the documentary on a TV show, but like a lot of CSI stuff that stuff is made up. Not accurate science. But, if YOU think there is ANY basis for putting people into various “racial groups” what would it be?
Since my project is about self-identification, I like to be very specific. When you, Paul, are given the option of choosing a “race” which one do you select? In your answer, I would like for you to explain why you selected the choice you chose. Then I would like for you to think of 10 other people who you think or feel might be in your same “racial category” and tell me what you all have in common, that a member of any one of the other arbitrary and undefined groups can’t also have.
#2) It isn’t up to me say because they are asking you to identify yourself, but I don’t endorse people calling themselves “bi-racial.” There is no such thing! If you think there is what is your rational? What other race are you combined with?
#3) You should explore the concept of how scientists use the word “race”, and how they apply it to every other animal on the planet. A lot of scientists and scientific organizations concur that the human race hasn’t been on the earth long enough to have split into separate races. Scientifically, the word race can be interchanged with the word sub-species. In my research I have found that one of the most basic rules of whether something is of the same race or not, is if you can naturally mate a male and female and produce offspring. Humans certainly can! Quick example: A horse and donkey are artificially mated together to create a mule. If you try and mate that mule with another mule what do you get? Nothing, the mule is sterile. Why? Because the horse and donkey are separate races. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mule
#4) Here is just one timeline of civilization: http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0001198.html
#5) Here is a DNA migration map that shows how Homo Sapien Sapien spread across the planet. We are ALL virtual COUSINS of each other! The differences you see are due to diet and environment. Today, in my opinion, they are further accentuated and exploited as “differences” by politics, media and marketing.
Conclusion: I assume you mean political left when you say left, but in my opinion, EVERYONE who continues to answer a question about their race with anything other than human is wrong. No matter where anyone is on the planet 99% of their genes are common with everyone else. If you want to make it continental, we are all AFRICANS! The whole reason why it persists has nothing to do with the Bible or science or law. In my opinion, the perception that everyone is dealing with “racism” on this grand scale, exists because it has been determined that people can make more money with it, than without it.
With my project, I’m trying to discover the people who can interact and solve problems WITHOUT going through these arbitrary and undefined hoops and actually spend our time SOLVING real problems.
Paul response #2 July 28, 2010 11:11:15 AM PDT
Thanks for your thoughts, I do appreciate the chance to dialogue.
Let me clarify–I don’t necessarily hold to the idea of bi-racial–I was asking because I see it in a handful of places with your interviewees or online comments, and mainly wondered if you agreed with it, and I appreciate that you’re being consistent and DON’T agree with it. But….it’s almost funny how the same people are agreeing with the idea of no race and at the same time claiming they’re bi-racial. I don’t mean funny in a sarcastic way, just to clarify.
Now, CSI is a drama and I would never trust it for facts. The other few programs are serious documentary, it shows the actual crime dept. involved and interviews actual forensic scientists doing their thing, so I wouldn’t see this as inaccurate science unless we can know otherwise. (and then, do I distrust everything on Discovery, The History Channel, PBS?) It’s not like a movie documentary for example, which normally has an agenda. In the case I mentioned they figured from the dna that it was a blond haired white skinned male, and the guy saw this on the local tv and turned himself in before they found him (partly since it was a very small town and he figured it was just a matter of time)….so my only point is that SOMETHING about this dna shows physical characteristics–this is the only thing I wanted to mention here, just to be fair with the facts. If this is due to diet and environment….whatever it is, there’s something. That’s all. This fact doesn’t mean conclusions or ramifications about self identifying.
Now, your question about asking 10 people about a category, I really think it would be easy–I think they would come up with basic stuff about our ancestry and its whereabouts, and if that’s all, THAT’S OKAY, isn’t it? This doesn’t have to imply anything more, but do we need to do away with it…..?? If it’s literally–“hey, my people came from ______ and we tend to have ______as a characteristic, and we typically do ________ ” (as an ethnicity), then is that inherently problematic? It’s a different issue if we say..”we’re this ______ and obviously our people did this and this, so we’re better or smarter” but the latter doesn’t invalidate the former, does it?
I certainly agree that humans’ dna is distinct, while evolutionists have tried to establish that it’s similar to all the animals.
Now…..if everyone in a society wants to self identify, would there need to be an exact science to do that? Certainly we use “ethnicity” with no exact science, and I don’t believe it’s inherently problematic, and without question–don’t people all over the planet have issue upon issue over “their” ethnic ways…..? Maybe it’s more of an issue of human nature, not necessarily official, legal, scientific categories…..? I really suggest that’s the issue…..
What I was asking about on your site is/are the links–the Mexica I think it was, for example. Total discussion of this race and that race, so I was just curious if you had an issue with that being on your site. It seemed like it was going against your whole premise, though I realize there may be other reasons why you have it there (but I’m curious then).
The more I hear the more it seems like there’s no way possible for people to not self identify. We have eyesight, we look different, and people will identify by class, geography, education, religion, intelligence, body weight, age. If we eliminated half of those….do we have “unity”? Even if we can officially and every other way establish that there’s one human race…..we wouldn’t eliminate the ism’s of humanity, would we? I think the problem is really human nature….
Hope you welcome the dialogue….I’m not wanting to be an annoyance…!!
MJB response #3 July 28, 2010 12:51:34 PM PDT
Not an annoyance but respectfully I’m sure you are aware that while I enjoy the conversation, I simply don’t have the time right now to interact with everyone on a one to one basis. Because I get these sort of comments all the time, that’s why I have the group presentations. You should come out to the event on August 8th.
In my opinion, you are trying to “dialogue” about a lot of things that I don’t see where there is anything to dialogue about. Rather than talk about ALL OF THE POSSIBLE sources of INCORRECT INFORMATION that people CONTINUE to use and make reference to draw incorrect conclusions on race etc., I’m looking for you to provide YOUR answers to the questions I asked. In my answer to you I sent links to articles that you can research if you want to, in return, I would like the same.
If you want me to answer about some crime documentary, send me a link and I’ll look it over. Can’t answer abstract observations about an unnamed documentary. If you are saying they found some guy through his DNA and from that DNA they determined that the guy was “white”, I would like to hear their explanation on how they scientifically attached the word “white” to DNA results.
The Mexica link is there because that group is talking about how being called Latino or Hispanic has nothing to do with being called Mexican, or Puerto Rican, etc. The people of Central America aren’t the ones who first started calling people from the region Hispanic, etc.
I’m also going to suggest that it is NOT human nature for people to solely interact or fight with, or marry, or bear children with people who only look like them. You may want to look up the definition of the term coalitional behavior.
By the way, I’m not trying to convince you or anyone else of anything. I’m letting people know that maybe some of the information they are using to continue to answer these type of questions might be a little out of date. When I started the project 7 years ago, I started with the premise that everyone I would speak to was/is smarter than I am. That’s why I spent a couple of years talking to scientists and lawyers, and politicians, and religious professionals BEFORE I started talking with people who draw their conclusions on what they think or feel solely on the basis of information presented to them on TV. I respect your intelligence as well, but I would still like to hear your answers and supporting rational to the questions I asked.
So, when asked the question about your “race,” or “ethnicity,” which choice, of the 7-8 choices possible, do you choose and why? I’ll wait upon your answer, then we can dialogue a bit.
Michael James Brown
Other Awareness Project
One of my favorite quotes:
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.
Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527)
In my opinion, what the author is saying is that it’s simply not enough to have a good idea. You have to get out and show people how the new idea works, and even then they won’t be quick to adopt or use the idea because of what other people might think about them.
The hard part of the Other Awareness Project isn’t gathering the information; you can find all the “answers” on Wikipedia or other sources. In my opinion, the perception of racism is mostly still around because people of all colors can make more money with it than without it. The hard part of this project is showing marketing people, media companies and consumer brands that there is a market for a show/project that isn’t based on race at all.
The Other Awareness Project is about self-identification and is directed towards community involved, solutions oriented people. That’s it!
Here is some information from the Direct Marketing Association concerning response rates for various types of advertising. The average response rate for the 1,122 industry-specific campaigns that the DMA studied was 2.61%.
Within sectors, nonprofit fundraisers enjoy the most success with direct response, getting rates of 5.35%. Close behind are retail stores (with 3.36%) and establishments selling services to businesses (3.34%).
Manufacturing delivers 3.17%; personal and repair services 3.07%; and travel 2.98%. The two sectors at the bottom of the list — computer/electronic products and packaged goods — still get better than 2% response.
Throughout 2009, with a budget of $0 dollars, using only a 10-minute video clip, I added approximately 1300 Facebook friends. Most were extended an offer to join the Other Awareness Project group. 280 people did.
280 of 1300 = 21.54%
On December 14, 2009, I created a page for the Other Awareness Project. The page is more easily accessible to people not in my group of friends and has a greater ability to measure analytical information, run ads, etc. From 12/14/09 to 1/14/10, 252 people became fans of the project page.
252 of 1428 = 17.65%
I joined Facebook to connect with old friends, but also to be a more arbitrary confirmation of the data that I get from the traffic on my regular site (otherawarenessproject.com.) I think it is clear that a response rate of 17.65%, with a very limited budget, shows that the direction of the project connects with a substantial number of people, across all current demographics.
In my opinion, the only thing this project is missing is the support of a major brand, regional sponsors, media outlet, etc., to help get the message out to a wider audience.
Michael James Brown