May 15, 2014 — Have you heard? Bigoted L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s latest target is people living with HIV, and HIV community leaders and media makers alike are not taking the bait.
Sterling has recently been raked over the media coals and stripped of his NBA standing because of hateful, racist remarks. On Monday night during an interview on Anderson Cooper 360, he attempted to make amends — in other words, distract audiences from his long history of racially biased attitudes and actions — by insulting Magic Johnson, and all people living with HIV, by saying Johnson should be “ashamed” for having become HIV positive, and that people like him should “go into the background.”
The incident has certainly made Sterling look like more of a “doddering old coot,” as Josh Barro put it on MSNBC — but like his racist epithets, he is not alone in his ignorant, misinformed, bigoted beliefs about people living with HIV.
However, Sterling’s ugly remarks have given members of the HIV community and even makers of mainstream media a very public opportunity to condemn his words as “an ugly, retrograde sentiment,” and to remind those who may not know it that “negative attitudes about HIV are literally killing people.”
Donald Sterling has done more to get HIV stigma addressed in the media than anyone in recent years. #ThankYouDonaldSterling. If you catch some good coverage of his comments correcting HIV stigma, myths and misperceptions, tweet it @uspwn with the hashtag: #SterlingSmackdown
Read some more thoughtful media responses to Sterling’s foolishness:
- The AIDS-Shaming of Magic Johnson, by Charles M. Blow (The New YorK Times)
- HIV Stigma ‘Literally Killing People,’ by Josh Barro (Video) (MSNBC’s “The Cycle”)
- What Donald Sterling Gets Wrong About Magic Johnson, HIV and History, by Alyssa Rosenberg (The Washington Post)
- Shame Belongs to Donald Sterling, Not Magic Johnson, by Nancy Armour and Jeff Zillgitt (Video) (USA Today Sports)
- Donald Sterling Says He Isn’t A Racist. Is Anyone? by Gene Demby (National Public Radio)