To no one’s surprise, the award that the NAACP was all set to bestow on Donald Sterling — the second in about half a decade — was not about anything he had said or done or any reflection of his character. It was about the massive transfers of cold, hard cash. The NAACP’s Roslyn Brock admits as much in USA Today.
Our NAACP chapter in L.A. is not blameless. Because of Sterling’s large donations to local charities, including the NAACP, they overlooked his worse than checkered history on race issues and gave him a lifetime achievement award in 2009 — andwere 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. We are developing guidelines for our units to help them in their award selection process. We must not be seduced by mere financial support.
As a past recipient of an NAACP Community Awareness Award myself (Greenville, TX 1992-93), here’s a suggestion. The NAACP should establish a rule that it will not bestow any awards on any donors at all. That would remove the ulterior motivation from someone like Sterling to donate, and would start restoring some of the NAACP’s long lost credibility. Rather than reward the rich and the famous, who get enough privilege anway, it should look for unsung heroes who have little but do much to help their communities.