President Barack Obama responded Sunday to racist comments on an audio recording of a man believed to be Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, while holding a press conference in Malaysia with Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That’s what happened here,” Obama said.
The president described the comments as “incredibly offensive racist statements,” according to Fox News.
“That’s still there, the vestiges of discrimination. We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often,” the president added, saying this is an example of how “the United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation.”
“[T]he United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation.”
Sterling, who has owned the basketball franchise for nearly three decades, is under investigation by the NBA for alleged comments where he repeatedly asks his girlfriend why she associates with minorities and instructs her “not to bring (black people) to my games.”
“It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” Sterling allegedly says in a recorded conversation with his girlfriend V. Stiviano, who is both black and Mexican.
“You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want,” the man believed to be Sterling adds. “The little I ask you is not to promote it on that … and not to bring them to my games.”
The audio was first posted by celebrity-gossip website TMZ on Friday and has provoked a fierce reaction.
Earvin Magic Johnson tweeted that he will “never go to a Clippers game as long as Donald Sterling is the owner” and NBA spokesman Mike Bass said the remarks heard on the recording are both “disturbing and offensive.”
Follow Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) on Twitter