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Clippers controversy reignites conversation on racism

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- The NBA has banned LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life after his racist remarks were made public. It's a topic reigniting a nationwide conversation about race.

And it's a conversation that's taking many shapes. Some are defending Sterling saying it was a private conversation between him and his girlfriend and he has the right to the freedom of speech.

A local consultant on race relations, Patrick Johnson, says the unfortunate part about the freedom of speech is when it's abused.

Johnson says that's what happened when Sterling told his girlfriend he didn't want her associating with black people in public.

Johnson says the comments are disturbing, but it's creating a conversation this country needs to have.

He says because of Sterling's power and position- his words are like writing on the wall. But, he says there are signs of racism that go unnoticed every day and that it's an issue still deeply embedded in society.

"Certainly we've made progress in these United States but for people, for African Americans, for Latinos and for other groups, we still see how those doors of opportunity don't swing open as they do for our white counterparts. So I think this is yet another opportunity for America, for individuals to get closer to this topic. Too often people might think 'I'm not racist so I don't need to have this conversation and I don't think that's the best attitude, the best approach to have. Whether you are racist or not this is everybody's conversation," said Johnson.

Johnson also says working to reduce racism will reduce the symptoms of racism which include violence and unemployment.

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