So Mark Cuban has always been one of the most honest men in the public eye, so his comments regarding race weren’t really that surprising. Everyone is making a big deal about what he said, but realistically he said absolutely nothing wrong. He isn’t Donald Sterling 2.0. The NBA is not made up of a bunch of white racist millionaires who like to watch basketball court side. The timing of Cuban’s statements could’ve been better, with the Sterling controversy still ongoing, Cuban picked a time of heightened sensitivity toward racism to speak his mind. However, what he said was not wrong.
The statements he made in the interview all stem from discussion about Sterling and how the soon-to-be ex-Clippers owner is still living in the stone ages with comments he’s made on the leaked audio tape where he asks his ex-girlfriend V. Stiviano if she’d stop bringing black men to her games, and stop publicizing that she’s associated with black men. Sterling continued his rant on CNN with Anderson Cooper, saying things like all Magic Johnson has done is gotten aids, and that Jews always give back once they’ve become successful but blacks do not, and other embarrassing, cringe-worthy remarks that only tarnished his reputation even more and crossed the line of potential forgiveness by miles.
Cuban continues in his video saying that if he saw a black kid in a hoody walking on his side of the street at night, he’d cross the road and if on that side he saw a white, bald man with tattoos all over his face he’d cross back to the other side. Now I ask you a question? If you were walking at night and saw one of those two things would you not cross the road as well? If yes that certainly doesn’t make you a racist. Everybody is subject to impure thoughts, they travel through our minds every day and we know we shouldn’t be thinking them but we do. You get yelled at by your boss and in your head all you can imagine is slamming his head in with the office computer. Your father in law can’t give you a break and tries time and time again to embarrass you in front of the family. You probably think about throwing him off a cliff before you go to bed that night. Impure, violent, or unethical thoughts pass through our brains every single day but that doesn’t make us murderers or psychos. The simple fact is we can’t control our thoughts. It doesn’t even have to be malicious thoughts. I’m sure everybody has experienced sitting in class and thinking of some funny thing you saw on TV the night before and laughing uncontrollably through class while the teacher and the rest of the kids stare at you. It happens! Thoughts come and go and you can’t control some of them. However, those thoughts don’t define anybody unless of course you actually happen to kill your boss…
Anyhow, what Cuban is saying is purely theoretical and he’s being honest that its something that goes through his mind. I would challenge you to find someone who hasn’t had that thought at one time or another. It’s sad that that is the stereotype of something we should be scared of when walking on the street but it’s true. It’s the sad and unfortunate truth that people do stereotype, people do have prejudice and even if they’re not aware of it, or truly are not racist or hold any sort of offensive beliefs toward a minority or group of people, the thoughts are subconscious. If I was walking down the street at night and I saw a black guy wearing a hood walking close by me, I’d cross the street. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe because I’ve seen things like that happen on TV. Maybe because that’s the stereotype of someone we see on the news. But I am absolutely, in no way, shape or form racist. I don’t think whites are better than blacks. I don’t think blacks are a less superior race or that there is anything at all wrong with blacks. However, I would cross the street. The same goes for the bald, white guy with tattoos everywhere. He’s white, I’m white, but I’d still cross the street. I’d be scared, it’d probably be mis-targeted fear but I wouldn’t feel safe walking with that guy on the street at night. He could be the most friendly person in the world – a puppy shelter volunteer, a worker for a non-profit organization, a single guy, lives with his mom, who the hell knows, but it doesn’t matter because we as people see something we are programmed to not like and we react. It doesn’t mean we’re racist but in the back of our minds, in the deepest depths of our thoughts we hold judgements about certain people based on the way they look.
The reason this is getting so much negative attention is because we live in a society that is extremely sensitive to any sort of racist or sexist or homophobic remarks, which is wonderful. I’m happy that society is really changing and we are all becoming equal, and that nobody is being discriminated against based on gender, sexual interest or race. That’s not to say there isn’t racism in the world, because there is but those who express racism are now becoming a minority. Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, offensive and irrational ideologies like racism and homophobia will not be abolished in a day and they are a process, and right now we are in the midst of the process of ridding society of these ideas.
However, this sensitivity can also be a negative. People jump on anybody who says anything true anymore about these sorts of things like Mark Cuban did recently. In his case they are misinterpreting honesty for racism. If we look at things Cuban said about Sterling we’ll find a man who is flat out honest. In regards to Sterling’s comments he said: What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent. There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with, and I don’t want to be associated with people who have that position.” It’s clear that he’s not a racist, and that he’s against everything Sterling said, so what is the fuss about?
Well, people have become so ultra sensitive that a trigger goes off when anything is said and even if its intentions are not racist or the remarks are not coming from a violent place they are still criticized. Mark Cuban said nothing wrong. He addressed subconscious thoughts that he has and I’m sure everybody else has as well, but we are quick to put a shield up to defend ourselves from our subconscious thoughts because we know they’re wrong so we fight them and we say that comments like Mark’s aren’t ok, when really, if we just take a step back and understand where he’s coming from, they are. We have become more tolerant in society of different people, but less tolerant of different views on racism and other discriminative beliefs. Mark wasn’t targeting any specific people. In his statement he approaches things from both ends of the spectrum. In his completely theoretical situation, he would cross the street regardless of ethnicity. It’s more the image and the stereotype of a certain person that he’s afraid of. If he’s crossing from a black person in a hoody and crossing from a bald, white man with tattoos everywhere then how can we possibly say he’s racist. He’s not saying he holds any judgement toward a race of people. He’s simply talking about the prejudice people have toward a certain appearance.
This isn’t the first time his honesty regarding the Sterling controversy has garnered him criticism. He said, “If it’s about racism and we’re ready to kick people out of the league, OK? Then what about homophobia? What about somebody who doesn’t like a particular religion? What about somebody who’s anti-Semitic? What about a xenophobe?” This is absolutely true. If we’re going to kick people out of the NBA for being racist, how about kicking everybody out who is sexist, homophobic, anti a certain religion? Why don’t we create a place where everybody has the same thoughts as everyone else and there is no discrimination for anybody? Well, another unfortunate truth is that that is impossible. Everybody has certain thoughts and prejudice and to expel anybody for thinking or having views that are offensive would be taking away their right to freedom of speech. He was criticized for this because it was seen as justifying Sterling’s actions, when really he’s just taking a step back and impartially observing and commenting what he thinks. In both situations, people get annoyed by someone who is on neither side but is simply being honest and analyzing both. He gets criticized for thinking about what’s going on and talking about it rather than running to the bandwagon and screaming to get Sterling kicked out. He’s not saying he doesn’t think Sterling should be kicked out but he is weighing the options shall we say.
*** I am in no way justifying Sterling’s remarks. He is an exception – an extenuating circumstance where his comments went overboard, were directed at a specific group of people and carried over into aids and even went after Magic Johnson a well respected member of the NBA.
Cuban and Sterling’s remarks have to be differentiated because they are in two different realms. Sterling is clearly saying to his girlfriend, do not bring blacks to my games. I do not want blacks there. He is targeting blacks in general, he is saying, in a real-life situation that he has a prejudice toward blacks. That is racism. That is clear racism, he continued when he said Jews give back but blacks don’t, in that situation he’s elevating Jews above blacks – discriminating even more. Cuban is not being racist in his remarks. He’s not saying I don’t like walking next to blacks on the street. He’s saying if I was walking at night and I saw a black man in a hoody, I would be scared. Is that reasonable? Yes. Is it really a pure thought? No. But like I addressed earlier, it’s the reality that everybody has thoughts like these and to condemn someone for being honest and speaking his mind when his comments come from a safe place and don’t hold any malicious intentions is wrong. Where would we be as a country if we didn’t have the liberty to speak freely? It’s our right as people, and telling the truth, which we as a society have sometimes been quick to criticize even though we know deep down it’s probably true should be valued.
The only reason I could see to criticize Cuban for his remarks would be the uncanny similarity to the Travyon Martin case back in 2012 where Martin was shot by George Zimmerman. Obviously that was and is a sensitive topic especially considering how recent the case really was and how controversial it is. Otherwise, Cuban was in the right with everything he said. It’s great that we as a society have developed a big heart and a small tolerance for racism but sometimes the truth is the truth, whether we like what we’re thinking or not.