Among the penalties handed down to the disgraced owner of the LA Clippers Basketball franchise, Donald Sterling, was the order that he must sell the team.

Greg Cary

Greg Cary

Sports writer

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Sterling was also fined $2.5 million. He is expected to reap at least $500 million from the sale – do the sums.

Oprah Winfrey and a consortium of business figures have already expressed interest.  It’s an odd sort of justice.

Sterling is in this position because of a taped conversation with his then mistress in which he asked her not to be seen in public with “blacks”.

Given that 75% of his team and the NBL are African-American, it was not only a racist comment but one of profound hypocrisy.

But, then, slavery survived and prospered as long as it did on the back of the “plantation mentality” which saw slave owners ( even Presidents) rationalise their position on the grounds that the slaves were better off working for them than fending for themselves.

This conveniently overlooked the fact that slaves, by definition, had no choice in the matter. Freedom comes with no price tag.

The real story here is not so much one man’s racism, but the universal condemnation of it.

It was a reflection of how far we have travelled from the turbulent waters of the civil rights protests of the 60′s and 70′s.

Of course there are still incidents of racism and bigotry – there and here – but it’s no longer the norm.

Those who are its occasional targets need to understand that, as they must, the goodwill of the vast majority.