Debra Lee Issues Statement on Donald Sterling

BET Networks' CEO sent out a company-wide memo on the controversy.

Posted: 04/28/2014 08:23 PM EDT

The Chairman and CEO of BET Networks, Debra L. Lee, has issued a memo to employees regarding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's recent racist comments.

Sterling was caught on tape making a series of comments to his alleged girlfriend, V. Stiviano, asking her not to take photos with Black people or bring them to Clippers games. The explosive audio was leaked by TMZ on Saturday and has caused a firestorm within the NBA and the public at large.

Read Lee's email to BET employees:

"At BET Networks, we stay focused on What’s Hot, What’s Next and What Matters in our community."

"The unfortunate and ignorant comments allegedly made by LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling and rancher Cliven Bundy that have recently surfaced matter."

"They matter because they have struck a painful chord—in our past and present history—of humiliating and demeaning language being hurdled at not only an entire race, but in the Sterling case, world-class athletes and a beloved icon in sports and philanthropy."

"They matter because they remind us of how important it is to have the widest range of diversity at the table."

"They matter because they remind us that as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights movement, the march is not over. Clearly, we do not live in a post-racial society."

"We should have zero tolerance for such abhorrent and stunningly uneducated opinions. However, BET Networks—the largest media brand globally for African Americans—understands that this is also a monumental opportunity to illuminate the fact that today, we have the power of our own media to amplify our voices to not only call out ignorance, but to elevate the image of African Americans who are putting their full weight on bending the arc more swiftly towards justice and equality."

"I am so proud of my friend Magic Johnson and I stand beside him and all of the players, coaches and staff. I can only hope that all Americans and especially the fans, from all backgrounds, will do the same."

"We are proud to be an unrelenting platform for African American excellence, creativity and accomplishment. In the end, I believe that the senseless opinions of a dwindling few are no match for the power of the multitudes of African Americans—and all Americans—we display every day, all day."

"Each day, we demonstrate our unequivocal love for Black culture, and it is my hope that Adam Silver and the NBA take the appropriate actions swiftly. But it is my greater hope that the ugly, narrow views of one man do not distract us from the greatness of the LA Clippers team and all of the African American players in the NBA—past and present—who through their skill and genius advanced their teams, and their sport, to unimaginable heights."

From Our Partners