It seems the words of Clippers owner Donald Sterling have served to offer a unifying moment of clarity in a city that has served for decades as an incubator for race relations.
As The Times wrote Tuesday, the story has become "the tale of one city and two men": Sterling and former-Laker-turned-entrepreneur Magic Johnson.
Join us for a live video discussion at noon PDT Thursday about what the Sterling case demonstrates about race in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times reporter Kurt Streeter will host the discussion featuring Times columnists Steve Lopez and Robin Abcarian, with professors/authors Todd Boyd and Jody Armour joining the conversation.
It was two weeks ago that recordings surfaced of the Clippers owner telling his 31-year-old companion, V. Stiviano, that though she could spend time with African Americans, she should not allow herself to be photographed with them. The NBA responded by slapping him with a lifetime ban and a $2.5-million fine.
When Sterling finally broke his silence to defend himself earlier this week, the collective jaw of the city landed on the floor with a unified, collective thud, as Times reporters wrote Tuesday. That response has been seen, by many, as progress.
"We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go," said Mia Mitchell, an African American attorney who lives in Inglewood and works in an office next door to Sterling Plaza, the Beverly Hills building that houses Sterling's offices.
Mitchell was a student in South Los Angeles when the 1992 riots broke out near her home at Normandie and Florence avenues. She said she has vivid memories of seeing flames outside her kitchen window and missing classes because school was closed.