Don Sterling, Rahm Emanuel and Post Traumatic Master Disorder

Don Sterling, Rahm Emanuel and Post Traumatic Master Disorder
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I was in Atlanta when I first heard Don Sterling’s comments about his disdain for Blacks.  Maybe it was the fresh spring air, maybe it was the southern charm of the city, but nothing about it caught my attention.

Another day, another racist.  I casually thought before considering more important things like how much food I could eat in the next 48 hours.  If I can be completely honest, I am willing to admit that I am as desensitized to racism as I am to Black folks getting shot.

Yet, the magic of 24-hour news cycle is that even when you want to ignore something you can’t. Typically insignificant topics somehow begin to make small connections to your life.  And sure enough, with every iteration of the story that I heard I found myself becoming more and more disturbed.  It wasn't until I saw Don Sterling’s words plastered on a television screen that I understood the true root of my growing agitation.

"I support them and give them food, and clothes, and cars, and houses. Who gives it to them? Does someone else give it to them?"

This notion -- of a rich, White man giving others that which they are entitled -- is not only a fallacy but, dare I say, a mental dysfunction that does not get enough attention.  And though Donald Sterling appears to be the poster child for this dysfunction at the moment, no one would dare to assert that he is alone in his feelings that dehumanize minorities as peons to which he must oversee.

That is why it took his concubine and a social media app to bring his egregious prejudice to light.

That is why he still has not issued a public apology for his words.

That could be why he still owns a majority portion of the Los Angeles Clippers.

As much as Don Sterling’s words made my ass hurt, the source of his delirium wasn't lost on me.  His psychotic state of seeing himself as a gatekeeper of rightfully earned resources rang all too familiar to me and it is this misguided thinking that shouldn't be lost on any of us.

I live in a city where the basic right to a quality education is ciphered off only to those deemed worthy enough, by a Mayor who believes he has a right to stockpile city resources and to disseminate them in an unapologetically biased way.

I live in a town where the most equitable public program is its bike sharing system and where rather than holding criminals accountable for their crimes, the deaths of murder victims are quietly written off like bad corporate debt.

I live in a city where our leaders try to convince us that luxuries, like schools with an art teacher AND central air, are treats reserved for great behavior.

Like proverbial slaves basketball players orphans, too many of us allow this to happen, buying into the farce that tells us that we need to just be grateful for what we got.  Too many of us have brought into the dysfunctional thinking that allows those in power to repackage rights as generous gifts.

It’s a hell of a thing.

Much has been written about Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder, which gives a diagnoses to the potential affects that slavery may have on current day African Americans.  Like a mutation in our DNA code, it has been argued that many so-called cultural “dysfunctions” such as splintered families and intra-racial divisions are byproducts of our enslaved past.  Yet, as we are presented with another opportunity  to address the actuality of racism and racist thought in this country, the time has now come for us to consider how Post Traumatic Master Disorder (PTMD) could be affecting the minds of far too many who are in power.

(Yes, I made up this diagnosis.)

I imagine that Post Traumatic Master Disorder creates delusions of grandeur and deity in those afflicted by it – a dangerous prognosis when you are considered a leader.   Unfortunately, history feeds this ill mindset with the incorrect narrative that says that freedom and civil rights were gifts to be given to minorities when they were actually rights that ceased from being taken away.

It’s not until we are brave enough to address and dispel this great myth do we have a fighting chance of eradicating racist thought.  Any conversation that puts the ownness to fight racism only on those who are affected by it rather than acknowledging the depth of the ignorance of those who perpetrate it, just isn't worth the time.

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    Kay S

    Kay Smith is a Chicago-based freelance writer and blogger who focuses on race, politics and urban culture. Having worked on public policy at the state, regional, city and community level, her opinions have been featured in the Chicago SunTimes and a host of news websites (under very mysterious sounding pseudonyms). Follow her on Twitter @kaywillsmith or contact her at

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