PHOENIX - A racist rant attributed to NBA Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling is spurring outrage across the nation and here in the Valley.
ASU professor Matthew Whitaker said he’s angered by the comments, but not surprised.
As someone who teaches race relations, he's well aware racism still exists.
But he sees a positive side to this. He believes instances like this bring the opportunity to make things better.
Whitaker has earned a PhD and is the director for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University.
But that hasn't made him immune to racism.
“I've gotten all kinds of hate mail. I've had nooses slipped under my door,” Whitaker said.
He says the alleged comments by the owner of the Clippers might be a wakeup call for some.
“We're often told, 'Oh, you're just exaggerating. Oh, you're just oversensitive. Why don't you just get over it. Barack Obama's president. We're in a post-racial society. Stop complaining,’” Whitaker said.
Whitaker says racism still exists, even if it's not expressed in the open.
He says Sterling’s comments are the perfect example.
“We know that many people who are holding these views are hiding in plain sight. They're in the corporate world, they're in the education world,” he said.
Whitaker comes from a diverse family and now has one of his own.
He says that built his view of the world.
“We have Christians, Catholics, Muslims in my family,” he said.
But he says being color blind isn't the answer.
“We need to move past colorblindness to an age of color consciousness, meaning we see and acknowledge differences, but we don't ascribe negativity to it, inferiority to it,” he said.
So Whitaker fights to educate others, hoping that will be the tool that conquers hate and bigotry.
“You just keep fighting, you just keep doing what you do. And you don't allow terrorists, which is what these people are... they're cowards and terrorists... to dictate your behavior,” he said.
As for the controversy surrounding the LA Clippers, Whitaker wants top NBA officials to take action against the team owner.
He says that would prove their slogan “NBA cares" really means something.