[guest post by Dana]
By now, most of us are exhausted from the never-ending circus that is Donald Sterling, his crazy girlfriend/”archivist”/”silly rabbit” and the whole sordid mess. And yet, Mark Cuban, entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks, entered the fray during an interview where he discussed his personal views on bigotry.
In this day and age, this country has really come a long way [toward] putting any type of bigotry behind us, regardless of who it’s toward,” Cuban told the magazine. “We’ve come a long way and with that progress comes a price. We’re a lot more vigilant and we’re a lot less tolerant of different views, and it’s not necessarily easy for everybody to adapt or evolve.”
“If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street,” he said. “And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face — white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere — I’m walking back to the other side of the street.”
“I know that I’m not perfect,” he adds. “While we all have our prejudices and bigotries, we have to learn that it’s an issue that we have to control, that it’s part of my responsibility as an entrepreneur to try to solve it, not just to kick the problem down the road.”
Cuban said everyone has prejudices “in one way or the other.”
The Los Angeles Times took offense at Cuban’s comments and scolded Cuban for trying to “justify” his remarks in a way that they believe essentially defended the actions of Sterling. So, how did Cuban justify his remarks?
“So in my business, I try not to be hypocritical,” he said. “I know that I’m not perfect. I know that I live in a glass house and it’s not appropriate for me to throw stones.”
The LAT continued to huff and puff,
Judging from his comments, that glass house needs to be shattered.
By acknowledging a fear of a “black kid in a hoodie,’’ Cuban is admitting he is scared of many of his own players and fans, as the hoodie is a common piece of wardrobe for young people of all races. He’s also buying into the sort of fears that led to the 2012 Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, an incident that sparked national outrage. In fact, players from the Miami Heat even wore hoodies one day in protest of the fatal shooting of the black teenager.
Just because Cuban says he is trying “not to be hypocritical” does not mean that he can be excused for his ignorance. Simply because he praises this country’s fight against bigotry doesn’t give him a pass to sound like a bigot.
Mark Cuban is not Donald Sterling. He doesn’t have Sterling’s racist past. He is considered one of the league’s smartest and most passionate owners.
But after making those comments, Cuban appears to be lot closer to Sterling than anyone ever imagined, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver needs to deal with the dangers of that proximity.
It should be noted that another public person essentially said the same thing.
There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved…. After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating. — Jesse Jackson*
After the interview, Cuban tweeted an apology, yet stood by his comments.
P/1: In hindsight I should have used different examples. I didn’t consider the Trayvon Martin family, and I apologize to them for that. P/2: beyond apologizing to the Martin family, I stand by the words and substance of the interview.
*This morning I listened to Bill Handel on KFI who told listeners that during an interview he conducted with Jesse Jackson, Jackson made the same statements as referenced above.