Meet the Press   |  April 27, 2014

MTP Roundtable: The Race Debate

The Meet the Press roundtable discusses racist comments allegedly made by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

best selling book, "big tent: o egumbel on ea rlier in the program. here is what he said a minute ago.

>> we historically, whether it's donald sterling or cliven blundy or trayvon martin, we look at a tip of the iceberg and we ignore the mass underneath it.

>> what is the mass underneath this latest flash point of race here with donald sterling ?

>> look, i think what bryant is talking about is the fact that, you know, even when you're talking about affirmative action , other issues, there's still a lot of racism in america . we look at these instances and get repelled but there are voices out there, and it's a harder issue than it was in the past because people are expressing private thoughts. but a donald sterling actually has the power to affect people's lives because his housing discrimination case in which he was actually accused and had to pay money because he was discriminating against african- americans . i think the issue is racism is harder in some ways because people are communicating thoughts that are hard to -- you know, african- americans , asian- americans , latinos feel sometimes that they're not getting the jobs that they would have gotten otherwise, but people aren't saying, you know, saying it out loud.

>> it's important to remember that his voice has not been var veri verified. i this the investigation has to establish that key thing and we'll wait, rich lowry , for the nba to do this. i have a feel it will move forward one way or another pretty fast here. do you see it that way? some of my reaction is it's such outlier behavior. i'm not saying i'm surprised there's racism in america but it immediately strikes people as, my gosh, that's so beyond the pale .

>> well, i think it's an important point. he should get whatever due process is due an nba owner, but when you're on owner of an nba team and you're denounced by the president of the united states and lebron james , i don't know which of those is more important but it's a sign you're in big trouble . i don't think racism is harder than it was when we had laws in the south that would forbid people from staying zwroo --

>> it's harder to litigate. it's not worse today.

>> right. we've made enormous progress. you're never going to have a society where people don't believe or say stupid, hateful, and noxious things but there is a generational element to this. the younger you are the less likely you are to hear this kind of sentiments.

>> there's also affirmative action mallory. the supreme court weighed in saying the states have the option to forbid, to prohibit affirmative action if they want to go to the ballot box and do that and in her dissent justice sotomayor wrote this. race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, that cannot be wished away. race matters to a young man's view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. race matters to a young woman 's sense of self when she states her hometown and then is pressed, no, where are you really from regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country.

>> david, this was a 6-2 decision, so let's look at the six as o opposed to the two. what you're really looking at is the court finally saying, we're going to not make law from on high. we're going to leave the law to the states and let the states make some decisions. affirmative action , we can argue about good or bad, but we've let the states bring it to their people and make the decisions. affirmative action some people would say is tying one person's hand behind their back to give someone else an opportunity to work with both hands. the states can now speak and do what they think is right. i think that this was a good decision. i think it's a good decision for america and i think for once the court -- once in this particular instance the court isn't making law from on high.

>> refere

>> jeffrey?

>> one of the shock that is we have when cliven bundy or sterling, these things come out, is that we all thought in 2008 we had achieved something unique and new for the united states , a black president . there was -- you have to remember back, there was joyous disbelief on the part of some people and some horrified disbelief on the part of some others. it was a real watershed moment but the election of one man to one office twice doesn't actually change underlying structural problems. attitude problems, cultural problems and real economic structural problems. i think each time one of these incidents arises, we sort of say, but, wait, we're a country with a black president yet it still happens.