My unsettling intake of information

The “alleged” racist comments of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling which came to light over the weekend were grossly unsettling, to say the least.

Even more unsettling is the long trail of racist actions, not just words or thoughts, this man has been a part of in recent decades.

But perhaps the most unsettling aspect of this situation for me personally is the fact that despite stories of Sterling’s actions circulating in the past, I completely ignored this until TMZ produced a just-sketchy-sounding-enough-to-be- interesting audio file delivered by a seemingly scandalous girlfriend/mistress.

That’s the packaging it took for me to finally click the link and read the story.

But that’s kind of the world I live in. I’m bombarded with the flashy, the sexy, and the exciting so often, anything less appealing often struggles to find it’s way onto my radar.

Of course the easy thing to do here would be to throw the media under the bus here and say, “Oh, they just didn’t cover it enough.”

But that’s dumb. In a lot of ways the media is like your high school cafeteria, if you ain’t eating it, they ain’t serving it.

At the time very few of us were ordering up the tales of Sterling’s racism, so few dishes of that information were prepared. As the consumers, that’s on us.

Despite this, guys like ESPN’s Bomani Jones were still serving this dish, hoping some of us might finally pay attention to its worthwhile nature. In 2006 he wrote this piece for ESPN Page 2 urging folks to pay attention.

Again, I did not.

But then Saturday night came and with it a TMZ report featuring all of the above-mentioned elements, which made it just too sexy to not click.

So I did and I began to learn about this man, the things he’d done and the things I’d ignored.

What does it say about me that it took that type of packaging for me to finally pay attention to this situation?

What does it say about me that headlines of “discrimination” or “racism,” but absent the words “audio” or “girlfriend” didn’t draw my interest enough for me to take 10 minutes and learn about what was going on?

I mean, as one of Jesus’ people, shouldn’t that be the exact type of social injustice that sparks a fire under me? Shouldn’t those stories be the ones I’m spending time diving into the details of?

Too often it seems they are not. Too often it seems I am instead clicking to learn all kinds of other super important thing, like which X-Men character I would be or where the actors from my favorite ’90s TV are today.

I’m not saying reading that stuff is all bad, I mean who doesn’t want to know what Kimmy Gibbler’s up to today? (Still besties with D.J. Tanner according to the Huffington Post.)

But if we’re not careful, I think these nuggets of “fast food” media will make us lazy and content with just soaking up whatever link is getting the most Retweets instead of going out and hunting more nourishing and important information.

My lazy approach to engaging with serious topics, combined with my quick clicking of the flashy and easily digestible ones, is likely why I’m years late to learning about Sterling.

And as much as this situation as showed me about him, it’s showed me just as much about myself.

I need to pay more attention to what people like Sterling are doing, but even more attention to what I’m doing.









About travman44

I work as a reporter for a newspaper in southwest Virginia. I play as a writer specializing in deep thoughts on shallow, and occasionally not so shallow, subjects. I'm also a former history teacher, bible college alum, and lover of the NBA and kids' breakfast cereals. It's a delicate blend. -- @TravisKWilliams on Twitter
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