Sunday, November 2, 2014

Harrison boys soccer tops Fishers in overtime

By Clyde Hughes, Printed in the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Oct. 16, 2014

Link: http://www.jconline.com/story/sports/high-school/2014/10/16/harrison-boys-soccer-tops-fishers-overtime/17394995/


It happened nearly within a blink of an eye. One moment it looked like the Fishers Tigers were banging away at a goal chance, then the next it was the Harrison Raiders on their way to the regional final after a thrilling overtime victory at Kokomo High School Thursday night.

The Raiders’ Cole Boyer tallied the winning goal when he parked a long free kick by Christian Stiverson into the upper left corner of the goal just out of reach of Fishers goalie Trey Beatty with 4:58 left in the second overtime, giving Harrison the stunning 1-0 victory over No. 10-ranked Fishers (10-3-4).

The Tigers handed Harrison (17-1-2) its lone loss, 3-0, earlier in the season.

“I was happy for me but more for my teammates,” Boyer said. “I was happy that we were able to come back and beat the team that beat us, because we didn’t have a good showing the first time we played team. I was just at the right place at the right time.”

Harrison moves on to take on the host Kokomo Wildkats (14-6), which it beat 2-0 earlier in the season. Kokomo scored all of its goals in the second half to whip Jay County 5-0 in the first regional semifinal.

After the Raiders withstood a furious offensive assault by Fishers in the second half and overtime, it appeared the contest would come down to penalty kicks until referees stopped play with Harrison driving down the field because of an injured Tigers player at roughly the five-minute mark.

The injury break, which appeared to break the Raiders’ momentum, actually gave Harrison a chance to plan what proved to be its game-winning strategy at midfield.

“Jeremy Dewell and I talked it over and we decided that I would take the kick and float it over the penalty kick spot,” Stiverson said. “Dewell told me Cole was right there to run into it and he’s one of the fastest players on the team, if not the fastest. When he made it, I just went crazy. I was so happy.”

Up until that point, it was Fishers that dominated the second half and looked like it would be the team that would score the crucial first goal, as the Tigers had four shots on goal compared to Harrison’s one in the second half and four more in the two overtimes to the Raiders’ one.

But Harrison’s defense, led by goalie Kyle Bugay, turned the Tigers away time and time again, keeping the game scoreless on the muddy, slow-playing field at Kokomo.

“I think our boys were taken aback by the conditions of the field, but they haven’t been to regionals before and I felt they were on cruise control in the first half,” said Fishers coach Robbie Pels.

“We had our chances in the second half, but we didn’t finish. All the credit goes to Harrison. They really came out and played hard from the very beginning and it really showed. Bryan (Clouse) is an excellent coach and he really had his players ready for the game.”

Clouse said he knew after going getting just four shots on goal against Fishers in the first contest that the Raiders would need to make the most of their scoring opportunities in this game.

“I knew we could play a lot better than what we did the first time we played them,” Clouse said. “The great thing is that I don’t think we’ve hit our ceiling yet. (Fishers) kind of held on there in the second half, but I was confident that if we got an opportunity that we could net one, and Cole did a nice job of getting it in.”

Jones, Gill, Martin qualify for golf state finals


BATTLE GROUND — Maconaquah's Brandi Jones said she was about as surprised as anyone to find herself the topic of conversation at the Lafayette Jeff girls golf regional tournament Saturday at the Battle Ground G.C.


The sophomore saved her best golf the season for the regional tournament, shooting a 79 and qualifying for the IHSAA state golf tournament next week at the Prairie View Golf Course in Carmel along with Western sophomore Minka Gill and Northwestern senior Ashton Martin.


The fact that Gill and Martin advanced to the finals was probably not a surprise after both shot a 75 to tie for the medalist honors last weekend at Western Sectional at the Chippendale Golf Club.


But Jones, who shot an 87 in the sectional but advanced to the regional as an individual even though her team placed eighth last Saturday, shot a 38 over the first nine holes, putting here one shot off Lafayette Central Catholic's Morgan Brown as one of tournament's early leaders.


She shot a 41 on the back nine, which allowed her to tie Martin with a 79 overall to move on to the state tournament. It was a career best for Jones, who said she never shot better than an 80.


"I thought it was an honor just to make it to regionals so I didn't want to come here and disappoint anyone," Jones said. "To be honest, my goal was under 100 because it was reachable. I've never been under 80 before, so I guess that was a good place to do it."


Jones admitted that making the state tournament has caused her to rethink some of her goals and priorities as she entered the biggest stage high school girl's golf next week.


"It would be a huge honor and great experience to play with some of those girls," Jones said. "I'm very proud. I hit a bunch a great shots and know I can do it. It's a real motivator to know that I really can play well."


For Martin, the Northwestern senior, reaching the state tournament was the result of a long cat-and-mouse game that finally came to an end.


"I've been trying to get this for four years and I'm finally going [to state]," said Martin, who led her Purple Tigers into the regional competition Saturday. "I was sitting inside and haven't been paying attention when my name was called."


Martin said she knew the regional competition was tough. The tournament featured five state-ranked teams — No. 7 Lake Central, No. 12 Chesterton, No. 14 Lafayette Jeff, No. 17 Valparaiso and No. 19 Crown Point.


"I was really nervous about [Saturday] because I know a lot of college coaches wanted to see me at state," Martin said. "Now that I know that I'm going, it's really exciting. I wish my team could be there, but I know they will be there behind me."


Northwestern finished seventh with a 352 while Western was sixth with a 350.


Gill led the Panthers with a 78, one shot ahead of Martin, to advance to the state tournament as well. She said the momentum of playing well at sectionals helped her in continuing her good play into regional competition.


"I really played my game and stuck in there," Gill said. "I struggled on some holes but still saved them with some pretty decent scores on the holes. I did my best to focus. I think my game is starting to click pretty well. I just feel blessed to be playing good golf right now. Last week gave me a lot more confidence."


Western golf coach Seven Hoppes said he will depend on sophomores like Gill to lead the Panthers back to regionals next year and give them a good shot of reaching the state tournament as a team.


"We played a lot of good golf [Saturday]," Hoppes said. "It's such an advantage for my young team to play all of these state-ranked teams. We've got three kids coming back off this team and some younger kids coming in. We expect to be there next year. These young kids are going to be motivated and our goal will be to get to the state finals. That's always our goal."


Kokomo's Lucy Mavrick shot a 102 and Taylor's Daysi Jarvis shot a 104.


Lake Central won the team title with a score of 325, followed by Valparaiso's 330 and Crown Point's 336. Lafayette Jeff's Samantha Hatter was the medalist, shooting a 71.

Jeff’s Hatter medalist; Bronchos miss state cut



By Clyde Hughes, Printed in the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Sept. 27, 2014

LINK: http://www.jconline.com/story/sports/high-school/2014/09/27/jeffs-hatter-medalist-bronchos-miss-state-cut/16362363/

 
BATTLE GROUND – Those were not tears of joy coming from Samantha Hatter’s face as she walked past some of the state’s best high school golfers to accept Lafayette Jeff Regional medalist honors Saturday evening.

The Lafayette Jeff senior’s 71 earned her a state finals berth for the second time in three years.
Hatter’s tears were for her teammates. She had learned moments earlier that No. 14 Jeff was edged for the third and final team qualifying spot for the state tournament by No. 19 Crown Point, 336-339.

Seventh-ranked Lake Central won the hotly contested regional with a 325, followed by No. 17 Valparaiso’s 330. The score really stung considering the Bronchos missed a state berth by one stroke a year ago.

“It’s good to go back to state, but it would be so much better with my teammates,” Hatter said. “It’s so heartbreaking. We all tried our hardest, but at the end of the day it wasn’t enough. That’s the sad truth.”

The truth is there was not much more Hatter could have done to help her team. Her 71 was already two strokes better than runner-up Tiffany Curtis of Crown Point.

“The one thing I did differently was a matter of confidence and staying positive the whole time and kept telling myself the same thing over and over again,” Hatter said. “I tried not thinking about what’s ahead of me but staying in the moment and that helped a bunch. I didn’t think about anything else until I came of the course.”

Central Catholic junior Morgan Brown, the sectional and City/County champion, placed third overall with a 75 and advanced to the state tournament for the third consecutive year. Brown was one of the early finishers and found herself caught in the waiting game while other golfers finished their rounds.

“I felt I couldn’t drop many birdie putts out there,” Brown said. “My main goal was to finish here and move on to state, and it’s a whole new round there.”

Brown said her strategy of concentrating on her game and not getting caught up in what other golfers are doing did not change in regional despite the level of competition being the best it has been all season.

“There’s definitely a lot of good girls here, but that doesn’t usually affect my play,” Brown said. “I think there’s a little bit more (pressure) than in sectionals, but I don’t think it’s enough to make or break a round. You just have to handle it and play your own game.”

Brown’s 37 was among the leaders at the turn and her 75 was the top score most of the day until Hatter and Curtis, who were among the last golfers to finish their rounds, posted their results.

McCutcheon, making its first regional appearance under coach Avery Boaz, finished 10th with a score of 370. Twin Lakes was 12th (378), Rensselaer 15th (405) and Benton Central 16th (407).
 
“It was a good experience and sad the season is over,” McCutcheon senior Aspen Rogers said. “It was a lot of hard work to get here, but I’m glad we made it. I hope all five of us seniors left a legacy for the other golfers at McCutcheon.”

Guest column: Could Lafayette become Ferguson? Yes



By Clyde Hughes, Lafayette Journal & Courier, Printed Aug. 31, 2014


Dewayne Moffitt, president of the Lafayette Human Relations Commission, said he believed what has happened in Ferguson, Missouri, could never happen in Lafayette — until he went to Ferguson about a week ago.

Moffitt, the student success coordinator at Tecumseh Middle School and former executive director at Hanna Community Center, said he saw how the crowd protesting the shooting death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown changed from calm and supportive to unruly and defiant in a matter of an hour.

He also saw how little it took for a small group of people, cloaked around peaceful protesters, could provoke law enforcement officers and turn a rally into a tear-gas throwing, Molotov cocktail-tossing spectacle that captured the attention of the nation and the world.

"If you would have asked me that question before I drove down there, I would have said there's no way that could happen here," said Moffitt, who said he made the trip on his own accord to see for himself what was happening and to learn from the experience.

"Now I'm not so sure. … There are some people here with their own agendas that would try to take advantage of a situation like this and require action from law enforcement. I still would like to think it's very unlikely, but there are some who have an agenda to create chaos."

Looting and violence have gotten in the way of some real — albeit unfortunately all-too-familiar — issues, regardless the perceptions of African-American men and blacks in general. Actually, these issues seem to feel like well-traveled territory.

Unrealistic fear of African-American youths walking in the neighborhood? Yes, covered that with Trayvon Martin. Excessive force to subdue African-American suspects? We just saw that in New York in July with Eric Garner. How about simply fearing African-American youths in general in connection to just everyday life? Covered that with Florida teen Jordan Davis in 2012.

The New Republic recently reported on a 2002 University of Colorado study that found in a shooting simulation that white undergraduates shot unarmed blacks (1.43 per 20 trials) at a higher rate compared to whites (1.23).

Results of a similar study published in Psychological Sciences in 2005 found that in simulation, Florida State University police officers also were more likely to mistakenly shoot unarmed African-American suspects than whites.

Granted, some would question how this relates to real-life situations, but the consistency of the findings are disturbing and worrisome.

But there are much broader and important issues at play here. These deaths were all in the making long before they happened, simmering on the stove of misunderstanding, miscommunication and distrust.

We see them boil over in protest and riots, but every one of these incidents has built over time because we — individually, collectively and as a community — refuse to acknowledge and understand the different worlds we continue to live in. These misunderstandings, miscommunication and distrust cross racial, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation backgrounds.

Actually asking someone to step outside their comfort zone into one of these worlds? Forget about it. Yet that ignorance creates a new Ferguson waiting to happen on a daily basis.

We can give Officer Darren Wilson life in prison and send him to hard labor in Siberia, but it will not solve a single problem of the Ferguson protesters. That's not suggesting Wilson should not be held accountable for Brown's shooting, if that is where the evidence leads.

But if you want to address the real problem of Ferguson, or Sanford, Florida, or New York City or Jacksonville, building an opportunity to bridge to gaps — in some cases gulfs — of experiences are critical.

The Diversity Roundtable Conversation Circles are taking a step in that direction by providing an outlet for sharing diverse experiences. They will begin again Sept. 22. The circles, which include people from all walks of life, are an effort in reaching across some of those barriers.

I know, you're asking the question: "Can talking stop a police officer's bullet from killing an unarmed teen?" No, it can't. What I am suggesting is that it's a first step in keeping that bullet from being fired. Let's not let Lafayette become another Ferguson.

Clyde Hughes is a member of the Greater Lafayette Commerce's Diversity Roundtable.

What you can do

The Greater Lafayette Diversity Roundtable will hold a callout for its Conversation Circles series at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Tippecanoe County Public Library, 627 South St. For more information, contact Greater Lafayette Commerce at 765-742-4044.

Guest column: A prayer for Pride Lafayette



By Clyde Hughes, Printed Lafayette Journal & Courier, Aug. 21, 2014

LINK: http://www.jconline.com/story/opinion/readers/2014/08/21/guest-column-prayer-pride-lafayette/14407869/

Ashley Smith did not exactly think she needed strangers to pray for her the day before Pride Lafayette’s OutFest celebration downtown in early August, but she realized it was the only way she could get a group of protesters to leave her and fellow Pride members alone at the time.

The protest and backlash come as part of the job, unfortunately, for Pride Lafayette, the organization that has become the voice of the LGBT community and its allies in Greater Lafayette. Smith has learned to take it all in stride.

“They were trying to mess with us while we were setting up,” Smith said about the increase in the number of protesters at OutFest this year. “I had to stand in the middle of them while they prayed for me. It was wonderful. I have a thick skin.”

Despite the protesters, Pride Lafayette has continued to find increased acceptance. The Greater Lafayette Commerce’s Diversity Roundtable selected the organization for one of its DRT Diversity Leader Awards. The awards will be given at the Greater Lafayette Commerce’s annual dinner Sept. 17 at Purdue University.

Pride Lafayette will be honored with Old National Bank and the Wabash Center, along with an individual award winner.

“I think (the award) shows great strides for Pride Lafayette and the community as a whole, seeing that the Chamber is recognizing how much we’ve done for the community and all the hard work we’ve put in,” Smith said. “We’ve put ourselves out there, and we think it’s wonderful that they’ve decided to recognize us.”

It’s still not easy for Pride Lafayette members to stand out, even after seven OutFest celebrations, numerous events and their public, enthusiastic support for same-sex marriage in Indiana this year.

“To be honest, (Pride Lafayette) had to create a position for me because normally the media person is supposed to be the president of the organization, but we’ve had so many folks who don’t feel comfortable putting their face out there,” Smith said, explaining the hesitance of some members.

“I just happen to be very thick-skinned. I believe in standing up for what’s right. When we put ourselves out there, sometimes we get backlash and sometimes we don’t.”

In fact, everyone in Greater Lafayette should be grateful to have someone like Smith and Pride Lafayette in the community. When we talk about accomplishing the goal of making Greater Lafayette a great place for all people, it’s groups such as Pride Lafayette that will make the community live up to that promise.

Smith said Pride has been grateful for the support it has received from the community, including Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis. If we really want to make Greater Lafayette a welcoming place for everyone, though, we not only want, but need, Pride Lafayette. Hasn’t it been part of this country’s history to have such individuals and groups around to make us live up to the freedoms and rights that have been promised to us in the Constitution?

Those freedoms and rights have not come easy for many minorities in this country, but we all benefit when we all can celebrate the same justice, progress and liberty.

Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote in his letter from the Birmingham jail: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

We should all feel a little less threatened, and not more, because of Pride Lafayette.

Hughes is a member of the Greater Lafayette Commerce’s Diversity Roundtable.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Paul George finds groove to help Pacers survive Game 5

Link:http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/29/4144247/paul-george-finds-groove-to-help.html

Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014

On the score sheet, Paul George's 37 points and Roy Hibbert's 13 rebounds sticks out prominently, but Lance Stephenson’s play as the proverbial fly in the ointment of the Miami Heat on Wednesday night might have been just as big in helping the Indiana Pacers survive in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Pacers 93-90 victory in final seconds kept the Pacers alive. Stephenson, who had taken a beating in the press and then on the court in Game 4, decided to keep his comments and antics to the basketball floor.

His play was credited for LeBron James picking up his fifth foul as the Pacers guard seemed to pull out all of his bag of tricks, even trying to sneak in on a conversation between Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and other Miami player on the sidelines.

“I just wanted to hear what he had to say,” Stephenson said sheepishly with a big smile on his face after the game. “Just wanted to hear about what they were about to do on offense. They were trying to run the pick-and-roll and I heard it. I was just trying to figure out what he was talking about.”

There was another incident the television cameras picked up of Stephenson blowing into James’ ear between a play. When asked what he was trying to do at that moment, C.J. Watson, whose locker is next to Stephenson’s, laughed out loud as the guard searched for an answer.

“We’re just playing basketball,” Stephenson said with a laugh. “We're just having fun.”
But there was a method to Stephenson’s madness in irritating James and other Heat players and the proof came in the razor-thin margin of victory.

“I was happy he got his fifth foul and we got the win tonight,” Stephenson said. “He was very aggressive [and] we forced some fouls on him. It definitely messed up their offense and it forced other players on their team to step up. We just locked in on defense and tried to make it hard for them.”

Pacers coach Frank Vogel said he was happy with anything his players could do to slow down James.

“[Stephenson] just competed,” Vogel said. “Nobody can stop or slow down LeBron. LeBron got out of rhythm because of foul trouble. Just all of our guys, we just competed, as tough as we could, no matter who we are on. [Miami’s] shot-making was ridiculous and we were still able to prevail. So I’m very proud of our guys.”

With Stephenson doing the dirty work, it allowed George, Hibbert, David West and the rest of the Pacers to come back from a nine-point halftime deficit.

George, who had been somewhat effective all series, found his groove when Indiana needed it the most in the second half. He scored 10 points in a 33-point third quarter that erased a nine-point halftime deficit to give the Pacers a 64-57 lead going into the fourth quarter.

“I thought they had multiple opportunities to go up but we made some key plays with our hands and got some key rebounds when we needed,” said West, who scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Then when the Heat got close in the fourth quarter, George’s three-point shot with 46.7 seconds left helped give the Pacers the breathing room they needed to sustain the victory.

Hibbert collected his second double-double of the series with 10 points along with his 13 rebounds.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/29/4144247/paul-george-finds-groove-to-help.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, May 19, 2014

Indiana Pacers use aggressive team effort to trump Miami Heat in Game 1

LINK: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/19/4123858/indiana-pacers-use-aggressive.html
Posted to Miami Herald on Sunday, May 18, 2014

By Clyde Hughes, Special to the Miami Herald

Indiana Pacers players have said they worked all season to get the best record in the Eastern Conference for the sole purpose to have home court advantage if they had to play the Miami Heat again in the postseason.

The effort proved to be a wise strategy Sunday afternoon as the Pacers led from start to finish in beating the two-time NBA champion Heat 107-96 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to take a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Aggressiveness seemed to be the key word in the Pacers locker room after the game, with virtually every Indiana player uttering the word from one sentence to another as their key to victory.

“We just came out aggressive from the start and [George] Hill put the pressure on those guys early,” said Indiana center Roy Hibbert, who scored 19 points and pulled down 13 rebounds in the victory.
“David West and I tried to do a good job finishing in the paint and making smart plays. We went inside-out and outside-in. We trusted each other tonight.”

Going into the game, Indiana was 3-4 at home in the playoffs against Atlanta and Washington, losing the openers in both contests.

The Pacers shook off the lackadaisical first-game performance of the previous two series to play one of their best games this postseason.

The Pacers’ balance scoring effort seemed to be a huge spark, with all five Indiana starters scoring double figures by the 7:00 mark of the third quarter as they shot 51.5 percent from the field in the game.

“I was just trying to be aggressive and make high-percentage shots,” said guard Lance Stephenson, who connected on 8 of 12 of his shots to finish with 17 points, behind Paul George’s 24, along with David West and Hibbert’s 19 each.

Hill made his first three three-point shots of the game to fire-up the loud Indiana fan base and give the Pacers an early 20-10 lead before settling for a 30-24 advantage by the end of the period.

“We were focused today,” Hill said. “They’re the champs and we have to go through them to accomplish our goals and we have to give them respect. But we’re good in this locker room also and it’s going to be a good battle game to game.”

Stephenson scored 10 points in the second quarter to help the Pacers rebuild their lead to double-digits.

During one point in the quarter, the University of Cincinnati product scored six points and rocketed a perfect pass to C.J. Watson (11 points) down low for another basket within a two-minute stretch, which allowed Indiana to maintain a six-point lead, 43-37.

His layup with 55 seconds left before halftime was the scored that elevated Indiana’s advantage to 55-45 at halftime.

The Pacers’ willingness to share allowed them to shoot nearly 60 percent from the field in the first 24 minutes.

In the third quarter, Hibbert — Miami’s tormentor from last year’s playoffs — West and Paul George combined for 25 points while the Pacers stretched their edge to 19 points twice, the latest at 81-62 late in the period.

West said, though, that the Game 1 victory will mean little for the Pacers if they drop Game 2 on Tuesday night.

“I thought we handled everything they threw at us tonight,” West said.
“Listen, we know those guys and they know us. We have to handle the details which are taking care of the basketball, handling their traps on the baseline and not getting into retreat mode.
“Our front five have dealt with them for the past three years. We know we have to consistently play at a certain level to beat a very good basketball team.”

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/05/19/4123858/indiana-pacers-use-aggressive.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, May 16, 2014

Diane Humetewa Confirmed as First Female Native American Federal Judge

LINK: http://www.newsmax.com/thewire/diane-humetewa-native-american-federal-judge/2014/05/15/id/571552/

Posted on Newsmax May 15:

Diane Humetewa made history this week as the first female Native American federal judge after the U.S. Senate confirmed her appointment Wednesday.

Humetewa, a member of the Hopi Tribe, was approved by the Senate in a 96-0 vote, The Associated Press reported. She now fills one of the six current vacancies in the District Court of Arizona. A former attorney general for the state of Arizona from 2007 to 2009, she was serving as a special advisor at Arizona State University before her confirmation.

Humetewa's appointment was a victory for Native American activists who had long pushed for American Indian representation in federal court, particularly in places like Arizona, which has a high Native American population, according to the Indian Country Today Media Network.

"Let's hope Diane's confirmation is just the start of a slew of Native American federal judges," Chris Stearns, who previously served as a counsel to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, told news network. "There is still a massive lack of representation of Indian judges in the federal courts."

As a special advisor at Arizona State, Humetewa helped university president Michael Crow with Native American affairs and acted as an aide in the university's Office of General Counsel, according to the school's website.

She also served as a professor of practice at Arizona State's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. There, Humetewa worked to establish relationships with the American Indian tribal governments and prospective and current Native American students, according to the university.

"[The National Congress of American Indians] greatly appreciates the efforts of the president and Senate in achieving this historic confirmation," the NCAI said in a statement. "There are many qualified, talented people like Diane Humetewa in Indian country who are able and willing to serve. We eagerly anticipate many more nominations of Native people to the federal bench and other offices."

"Judge Humetewa has dedicated time to serving the interests of Native peoples. She has been the appellate court judge for the Hopi Tribe, counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and special advisor to the president on American Indian Affairs at Arizona State University," the NCAI statement continued.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Guest column: Let's talk about Donald Sterling and race



LINK: http://www.jconline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/05/01/guest-column-talk-donald-sterling-race/8561353/

Posted on: Thursday, May 1.


It seems like we are talking a lot about race lately. Whether it is a U.S. Supreme Court decision, a showdown in an open prairie in Nevada with Cliven Bundy or the NBA playoffs, race has been the top topic of discussion.

While much of this talk has come in reaction to one event or another and not proactively, it’s a conversation that must continue. Unfortunately, that likely will not happen.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s decision to ban billionaire Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling from the league for life seems to have caught the attention of the entire nation. Sterling was secretly taped by his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, making racially charged comments about her being photographed and bringing African-Americans to Clippers games.

I don’t want to get off the subject, but am I the only person who sees a problem with a long-time married man parading his girlfriend who’s old enough to be his granddaughter at Clippers games? That’s another story.

There were a lot of pats on the back Tuesday when Silver made his announcement, which included a $2.5 million fine and asking other NBA owners to force a sale of Sterling’s team. In one respect, there should be. A person with Sterling’s position and influence should have been wary, knowing that if those comments were ever made public, they would have been highly damaging to his ownership.

But Sterling’s past history of settling discrimination complaints in his real estate business should have long been a red flag. Sterling’s comments seem confusing when you square it with the fact that he hired Doc Rivers, a highly successful African-American coach, away from the Boston Celtics to coach his team this season. That, and the fact that most of players are black. That is until you hear the tape and his comments about how he “gives them” their careers.

Even the Los Angeles branch of the NAACP was prepared to give him its lifetime achievement award before the incident.

Racism comes in many forms and cannot be disguised by spotty acts of generosity. It was the point Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was trying to make in her dissent April 22 in the court’s 6-2 decision to uphold a voter-approved change to the Michigan Constitution that prevents public colleges from using race as a factor in admissions.

Justices ruled that while the case did not consider the constitutionality of affirmative action, the state’s initiative was consistent with the Constitution’s equal protection clause. Sotomayor wrote the court was na├»ve to think that the initiative provided equal protection for minorities.

“In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination,” Sotomayor wrote. “This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable. As members of the judiciary tasked with intervening to carry out the guarantee of equal protection, we ought not sit back and wish away, rather than confront, the racial inequality that exists in our society.”

So much of racial prejudice and discrimination happens silently and behind closed doors. The Donald Sterlings of the world know that if those views become public — as they did last week — the reaction could intense and irreversible. If it wasn’t for the tape, who would have ever believed Stiviano, even with Sterling’s past history?
 
What’s the best way to root out this entrenched racism that stubbornly lurks around the corner of many buildings and dark alleys? It starts with talking about it. It continues with efforts to bring people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds together and to stop being so skittish about the subject. If we miss yet another chance to bring race to the forefront, we’ll simply sit around the wait for the next Donald Sterling to pop out of the closet.